BC Brings Mission Field to Students
Bluefield College is well known for its student mission trips abroad. But, when students aren’t able to travel overseas to experience missions firsthand, the school simply brings the mission field to them through its Missionary-in-Residence Program.
June 7, 2012
Missionary Henry Clary teaches a Christian studies course as part of his 10-month furlough on the campus of Bluefield College.
Designed to “bridge the gap between those currently giving their lives to mission work and those who aspire to work alongside them,” BC’s Missionary-in-Residence (MIR) Program provides a much-needed, well-deserved furlough for missionaries from the International Mission Board (IMB), while at the same time increasing the understanding among the campus community of the need to be involved in mission work.
“We bring the mission experience to every aspect of our campus life so that students don’t have to travel abroad to learn about mission work,” said Campus Minister David Taylor. “It also helps our students realize how fortunate and how blessed they are, compared to other parts of the world."
In fact, IMB missionaries Henry and Tasha Clary just completed a full academic year on the BC campus, sharing their experiences as missionaries in Uruguay for three years and in Costa Rica for one year. During their 10 months on furlough in Bluefield, the Clarys did their best to impress upon the minds of students that mission work is “a calling to share Christ with people in another culture” and “a journey that teaches you to lean on the Holy Spirit.”
“We are called to be servants of the Lord in a foreign land -- we do whatever,” said Henry. “Missionaries must be flexible, meaning completely at the will of the Lord. You need more than plan A and B; you need plan C, D, and E.”
The Clarys also shared with the BC community that while they fully expected to witness, serve, teach and help the people of Uruguay, they discovered early on that God was using the people of Uruguay to teach them a few lessons in grace and humility.
“I learned how weak and frail we can be,” said Tasha. “I also learned to rely on the Lord and to become more merciful and forgiving toward other people in my response.”
Henry’s initial call to Uruguay was as a church planter, which means starting small house churches. This, he said, enabled him to “get into Uruguayan culture and language” and “get to know the people on an intimate level through worship and Bible study.”
He led two house groups, teaching and discipling, before transitioning out of church planting into cell ministry with a Baptist church in the upper to middle class section of town -- the hardest to reach, according to Henry. Now, his work also involves serving as a seminary connector, linking pastors and teachers in the United States to seminaries in Uruguay and Argentina all for the purpose of helping the seminaries “become strong evangelical and theological places where people want to go for training.”
With a teacher certification, Tasha teaches and volunteers at a bilingual private school in Uruguay. She also leads youth Bible studies for a local village church. In all they do, the Clarys said they have learned to appreciate the slower rhythm of life in Uruguay, one in which “the present is way more important than the future.”
In addition to sharing with the BC family the lessons learned from serving in Uruguay, the Clarys hosted mission fellowship gatherings, taught Christian studies classes, and led Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) sessions. During their encounters with BC students, the Clarys said they learned much about the students’ passion to serve.
“Many students at Bluefield College have a heart for missions,” said Tasha. “They have all these questions, and are hungry for answers and information.”
With their furlough ended and their time with BC complete, the Clarys and their children Hugh (17), Mark (11), and Elise (10), will return to Uruguay in June. They will be located in Montevideo, Uruguay, where Henry will be advocating and teaching for two seminaries. Though they both are eager to return to the mission field, they said they have enjoyed and will miss Bluefield.
“We really liked the environment here,” said Henry. “It was neat and homey, like a small town. Since not all the students were believers, we could be ourselves -- missionaries.”