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Dockery cites famous missionaries as examples of cross-cultural gospel engagement

Union President David S. Dockery speaks in chapel Dec. 5. (Photo by Zac Calvert)
Union President David S. Dockery speaks in chapel Dec. 5. (Photo by Zac Calvert)

JACKSON, Tenn.Dec. 6, 2012 – Missionaries like Lottie Moon, William Carey, George Leile and Adoniram Judson are models that Union University students should follow in reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, Union President David S. Dockery said Dec. 5.

Dockery, speaking in the final chapel service of the fall semester, provided biographical information of the four missionaries as he addressed the 2012 Pew Research Study on religion in the United States. The study indicated a declining influence of evangelicals and a rapidly growing number of Americans with no religious affiliation at all.

“The social and religious realities which once seemed clear to us are increasingly complex -- meaning the task before us will not be easy,” Dockery said. “It’s a God-sized task.”

In a sense, Dockery said the world has been turned upside down, with African and Asian nations providing more fertile ground for the gospel than the United States and Europe.

“It may well be that as you leave this place, you will need to look for new open doors for the gospel, for things that you might think are available be become closed for you along the way,” Dockery said.

The growing urbanization of the world is one significant change for which a new generation of Christians should be prepared, the Union president said. He cited statistics showing that by 2030, 80 percent of the world’s population would live in urban centers.

“Most of Baptist work that was started in the 18th century -- that started institutions like Union University and so many that we could name -- find themselves in contexts very different from where the rest of the world is living today,” Dockery said. “So we have to see ourselves as a place of preparation, a sending place so that we can be prepared for the world that is out there.”

Preparation for living a Christian life in the world today involves being cross-cultural, Dockery said, and developing new intercultural sensitivities that can be beneficial in establishing relationships with people. That preparation must also be grounded “in a renewed fidelity to Christ and to his kingdom,” he added, citing Moon, Judson, Carey and Leile as examples of Christians who were committed to both.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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