Missionary Shares Passion with Students
Lynn Yarbrough has a passion for missions. She has committed her life to mission work. In fact, she’s spent most of the last 20 years as a resident missionary in China, teaching English as a second language, helping grow a Christian church, and teaching Bible studies to the Chinese locals who have a hunger for more knowledge about God.
March 1, 2013
Lynn Yarbrough, a 20-year resident missionary to China, is spending the 2012-2013 academic year sharing her experiences with BC students.
Missionary Lynn Yarbrough teaches a class at Bluefield College about the benefits of mission work during her yearlong sabbatical at the school.
But this year, Yarbrough is taking time off. On furlough at Bluefield College for the 2012-2013 academic year, she’s enjoying some much-needed rest. And, while the sabbatical is meant to provide Yarbrough with a well deserved break from her duties abroad, she’s using the time to not only rejuvenate herself, but also to instill in BC students a similar passion for missions.
Often described as “a bridge between those currently giving their lives to mission work and those who aspire to work alongside them,” BC’s Missionary-in-Residence (MIR) program is designed for just that -- to provide a well-deserved sabbatical for missionaries from the International Mission Board (IMB), while at the same time exposing Bluefield College students to the rewards of mission duty.
“The purpose of the Missionary-in-Residence program is to provide a residence for missionaries on stateside assignment, but through their presence on campus influence students and local churches to consider the importance of worldwide missions,” said BC Campus Minister David Taylor. “This will not only aid those who are considering mission work, but also encourage students in every area of study to expand their vision of what mission emphasis they can accomplish through their particular vocations.”
On the BC campus since this past fall, living in the school’s missionary home -- a spacious four-bedroom house with an office, a large eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, sun room and den -- Yarbrough has been hosting small group sessions for study and to get to know the students better. She has taught classes on mission work and conducted other, less formal information sessions about the work she does. In addition, she has spoken to local church congregations about her experiences as a Christian missionary.
“Many people are surprised that there are so many Christians in China and that the churches are full and overflowing,” said Yarbrough. “My own Chinese church in Nanjing holds six worship services every weekend, two on Saturday and four on Sunday.”
Yarbrough actually made her first connection with Bluefield College in the spring of 2005 when as part of an exchange agreement with the Jiangsu Institute of Education Taylor and a group of BC students worked alongside her during a mission trip to China. Her visit to Bluefield this year is just a continuation of the efforts BC is making to expose its students to the mission field.
“Not all students are able to travel abroad to serve on mission like those students in 2005,” said Taylor. “Through theMissionary-in-Residence program, we’re able to bring the mission field to Bluefield and to our students at Bluefield College and as a result increase the understanding among the campus community of the need to be involved in mission work.”
In addition to her direct responsibilities with the International Mission Board, Yarbrough frequently enlists and hosts volunteers in China for short-term experiences in service. In fact, for the past 15 years, she has worked closely with the Virginia Baptist Mission Board to recruit and assist teams of volunteers for the Amity Foundation’s Summer English Program, a program of intense oral English practice for Chinese English teachers.
“As a result of her work enlisting and hosting volunteers,” said Taylor, “more than 300 people have had transformative experiences in China and have been ambassadors for Christ through their service of love for Chinese people.”
And, while visiting the Bluefield College campus, Yarbrough hopes, if not to enlist even more volunteers, to at least instill a greater passion and understanding of missions abroad. If nothing else, by the time she leaves in May 2013 she will have at a minimum made friendships that will last forever.
“Even though I’m leaving soon, I will always have a great sense of connectedness to Bluefield College,” Yarbrough said, “not only because of the continuing relationship between the college and the Jiangsu Institute of Education, but also because of all of the friends I have made during my time here.”