Written by Maggie Samples and Tiane Davis // Photo illustration by Macy Cox, Ben Evans // Photos provided by Shawn Daggett
Harding will host the Global Missions Experience (GME) Sept. 21-24 at Harding University at Tahkodah (HUT), an outdoor missions training village in Floral, Arkansas. At the GME, current and potential missionaries can hear from keynote speakers and find their place in God’s mission.
Harding hosted the first World Missions Workshop — which later became the GME — in 1961 and has continued hosting the event regularly. This year is the first year since 2017 that the GME will take place.
The event is predominantly student-led and organized, said senior Landon Gardner, one of four GME co-directors. The three other co-directors are professor of New Testament and missions Shawn Daggett and seniors Cynthia Turner and Hallie Davis.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to participate in an event that might give people a broadened perspective as to how their vocation — whether it’s Bible or missions or not — on how any profession can fulfill God’s mission,” Gardner said. “I am just someone who is serving on behalf of the student body by offering students the opportunity to broaden their perspective and see how their vocation can fit into God’s mission.”
Daggett said the aspect of student leadership is what makes the GME special.
“Since it only comes every several years, it is a rare opportunity to connect with students from other Christian universities and campus ministries and learn from missionaries from all over the world,” Daggett said.
The closing night includes a call to mission and worship. Daggett said this part of the weekend is emotional.
“Hundreds of missionaries currently serving can point to this event as the moment they made the decision to give their lives to God in missions,” Daggett said. “Nearly everyone who attends leaves with a commitment to see all of life as promoting God’s mission to the world. As a result, I know thousands will hear the gospel, people will be fed, served, ministered to and loved to the glory of God.”
Bible instructor and former missionary Gary Jackson said the GME is a platform for aspiring missionaries to learn from experienced missionaries and their stories.
“I love the way veteran missionaries get to rub shoulders with students in a setting conducive to the deepening of relationships,” Jackson said.
The event provides an opportunity for members of the Harding community to interact with other universities associated with Churches of Christ.
“The GME is the embodiment of the mission of Harding University,” Jackson said. “Not only does it stress the need for global evangelism, it brings together in a unique way all of our sister institutions.”
Davis said the leadership team has been working on the GME since the spring. They had to prepare speakers, murals and teachers.
“I did all the publicity and marketing and designing all the flyers and buttons and bookmarks that you’ve seen here on campus,” Davis said.
Davis said as a HUT intern, a lot of her time went toward prepping the HUT space.
The GME will include a marketplace experience as well as learning stations and classes.
“There are missionaries and professors and people who attended this conference as students who have now become missionaries and professors,” Davis said. “To them, this conference, and the people attending, it’s a chance to not only to get to learn and to make connections with other missionaries but just a chance really to explore what you want to do and how you want to serve God’s purpose and be of use in the missions community, whether that’s, you know, in your backyard or that’s overseas.”
The GME will have a day full of classes and speakers on Saturday with worship at 3 and 6 p.m. The event will end with a Saturday pledge night in which participants can step forward and pledge to go into the mission field.