I hope you all have had smooth transition from our extremely long summer break back into the regular flow of classes, hanging out with friends, and all the work that is suddenly laid on our shoulders.
Let me take a second to introduce myself. My name is Jeremy Lupinacci, and I am a senior biblical studies major from Portland, Oregon. I have the humbling honor of serving as the president of SMU this year. I won’t be the person regularly writing on this blog, but I was asked to write this first post to describe the vision I have for this year in SMU.
First, I think it is important to share the mission of SMU as we are entering into the 95th year of our organization: We exist to motivate and mobilize students to align their lives towards the completion of the Great Commission.
All the work that SMU does, whether sending students on trips that range from Anaheim to Algeria, or putting on the largest annual missions conference in America, we work with the goal of creating disciples of all nations.
This means that the work we do on short-term trips has to support and strengthen the long-term missionaries who are serving other people for the long haul. This means that the work we do at Missions Conference has to first empower students to be disciples of Jesus, and second, mobilize them to create disciples of Jesus--our Rabbi, our Savior.
Second, I want to take time to share about the vision God laid on my heart for SMU this school year. My vision statement is Make Yourself at Home: Gathering to Scatter. I want to make SMU an organization that has a culture of hospitality as we seek to follow Jesus as his disciples to then be sent out wherever we go to be the lights of the world.
As we are all aware that Bible classes and chapels do not substitute for personal spirituality and growth in community and experiential understanding of scripture, we recognize that neither does working in or for a missions organization. Jesus rightfully has to be at the center of every single thing that we do, and He will be.
I heard an analogy this summer about cattle that greatly applied to our heart this year in SMU. Apparently, there are two ways to keep cattle in a certain area. Option one is to build a fence around the area to keep the cattle in. This creates a clearly defined “in” and “out” (insert joke about cows and in-and-out hamburgers). Option two, though, is to build a water well at the center of the area, making sure that it is the only well in the region. The cattle will naturally stay close to their only source of water.
This is the culture that we want to work towards fostering in SMU this year. When I first started getting involved in SMU a few years ago, the classic stereotype was that one had to fit a certain mold to get involved in the missions opportunities that SMU offers. We want to work towards changing that stereotype this year. We want to tear down the fences that created the “in or out” dynamics.
Systematic changes don’t happen with a snap of our fingers, but we will take steps towards creating a culture in SMU where we are so centered on Jesus to the point where it’s not about “working in SMU” but about leading others towards our Well, our source of Living Water. And we recognize that we aren’t the only group or ministry on campus that is also trying to do this. We are so blessed to be at a university where there are people all around us who are creatively challenging the norms when it comes to showing others the person of Jesus.
All of that said, I am so excited and expectant for how God is going to move in our hearts and through our lives this year. Let’s all embrace the profound calling of Jesus to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that He has commanded us. This is an intimidating calling, no doubt, but He who calls us to this Way is with us and will give us the strength to accomplish it.