After spending years leading an evangelical student movement in Mongolia through International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), Tom Lin currently serves as InterVarsity’s >> vice president and director of the Urbana Student Missions Conference >>. Tom also serves as the Lausanne Movement’s >> international deputy director for North America and vice chairperson of the Board of Wycliffe Bible Translators. He holds an MA from Fuller Theological Seminary.
What is your main focus in ministry and why you are passionate about it?
STUDENTS, esp. mobilizing students toward global mission. University students are strategic because we are seeing increasing numbers of Christian students leave their faith (70-80% according to most research) and greater numbers of non-believing students open to the gospel and spiritual conversations than ever before. I’m also passionate about it because students are tomorrow’s world-changers, and as we invest in the next generation, we are preparing them to lead and impact local communities, societies, and churches. When we catalyze a student generation toward God’s mission, the effects are enormous!
Tell a story of how you shared your faith in Christ and saw God woo an individual/s one step closer to himself.
I was with a non-believing friend doing beach evangelism one day. He joined me in having spiritual conversations with some folks on the beach. After sharing my faith with a particular young man who made a decision for Christ on the spot, my own friend was in awe and decided to give his life to Christ just seconds later!
What is your favorite quote/scripture?
Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32
How can people learn more about you and your ministry?
Visit the Urbana website >>
Visit the Intervarsity website >>
Visit my personal website >>
ABOUT THE WORLD
What is the biggest issue the Church in your part of the world faces today and why?
There’s too many. Let me share two. One of the biggest issues is the marginalization and persecution of the Christian faith in the media and public square in North America, from the government and workplaces to universities and schools. It’s extremely difficult to identify as a Christian and still hold a job as a university faculty member. Increasingly, Christian student groups are being kicked out of schools because of their beliefs. Yet it’s these places and institutions which significantly shape our culture and the future of our society.
Another huge issue is the growing diversity in the Evangelical Church. As we know, the North American Church is rapidly changing in its ethnic and gender make-up as well its denominational make-up. This, along with a new generation of leaders in the Church, is significantly impacting the way we engage in mission and the way we think about evangelization. The North American Church will need to embrace these future realities, or it will see greater fragmentation and ineffectiveness in mission.
What is the biggest issue the Global Church is facing today and why?
There are at least four:
- The need for the Church to engage urbanization and “youth bulges” around the world, as over half the global population is under 25 years old. This dynamic is connected to the growing injustice we see—human trafficking, children-at-risk, oppression, and violent conflicts, etc.
- The issue of migration is growing exponentially, as 3% of the global population lives in countries where they were not born, and the ethnic and religious make-up of nations rapidly changes.
- The rapid expansion of Islam in Europe and throughout the world needs to be given attention, and the Church needs to be in greater dialogue and engagement with Muslims.
- The recent Pew Forum survey of global evangelical leaders concluded that secularism and consumerism is the Global Church’s #1 and #2 challenges.
What is your hope for the Global Church in the next ten years?
My hope for the Global Church is mainly that God would work through this next generation—those who are currently youth and young students today. This generation is the best positioned generation in the area of global engagement and collaboration, as they’ve traveled the world more than any previous generation and are socially networked across the world before they even turn 18!
They are bent toward collaboration, as they see themselves as global citizens more than individuals. They are also extremely gifted entrepreneurs and want to accelerate change through technology and innovation. I’m hopeful that this next generation will successfully tackle many challenges that I could only dream of!