By Tim Ellsworth
Todd E. Brady, vice president for university ministries at Union, said the program will meet the needs of both Union University students who are preparing for ministry and New Mexico churches by providing learning and service opportunities.
“There’s a need for workers there. There’s a need for opportunities here,” Brady said. “Students will have an opportunity to be involved in God’s avenue through which He advances the gospel – the local church. This is a church-based mentorship program for a student to walk alongside a pastor and be involved in the church.”
The GO West Pastoral Mentorship Program will begin this summer. Brady and Joseph Bunce, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, are hoping for three Union students to be placed in New Mexico churches this year.
“This partnership will afford the Union University mentorship participants an opportunity to both learn and serve on a vast and wonderful mission field, beside gifted ministry leaders,” Bunce said. “The best way to learn ministry is to do ministry. We are anticipating this partnership to be life changing for the participants.”
New Mexico is a mission field with a shortage of pastors, Brady said, and looks different than the church context in West Tennessee. The entire state of New Mexico has 336 Baptist churches. West Tennessee alone has more than twice that many.
Of the 2 million people in New Mexico, Brady said 1.8 million are lost. “It’s certainly not in the Bible Belt,” he said.
Students who participate in the program will have opportunities for preaching, teaching, evangelism and visitation, Brady said, in addition to the opportunity of being mentored in a different culture.
Andy Mayfield, a 2018 Union graduate who worked in Union’s Office of University Ministries, said the New Mexico program aligns with the values of that office.
“We say we want to send people to the ends of the earth, but I think that also includes our country,” Mayfield said. B&R