Published on April 12, 2014 by Betsy Childs  
Douglas Birdsall

Theologian and global missions expert Doug Birdsall challenged Samford University students to be willing to follow God's calling anywhere during the annual World Christianity Focus April 7-11. The week-long emphasis was coordinated by Beeson Divinity School.

In a convocation address, Birdsall asked students "Where in the world would you not go, if God was truly calling you?" and "What would you simply refuse to do if God was truly calling you to do it?"

Using a passage from the New Testament book of Hebrews, he explained that once Christ-followers have "truly surrendered to God," the answer to the questions will be that they will "go anywhere and do anything that he leads them to do."

"I don't know how God has made you," Birdsall said. "Some of you God has made as explorers. You'll go to new places and do exciting things that have never been done before. Others of you will follow quickly and pioneer new things that they only thought about. Others of you will come in and help to build these new enterprises. Some of you will be those who will provide stability and strength. Think about how God has made you. What has he put into your hand? What are you stewarding for his purposes? God wants to use all of us in the work of the kingdom."

The week and Birdsall's messages were a success, according to David Parks, director of Samford's Global Center.

"Doug Birdsall challenged students to take their knowledge of God's Word and to let it encourage a knowledge of the world through disciplines  as simple as reading both Christianity Today and The Economist," Parks said. "He challenged them through stories of what God is doing through believers in other countries and to consider going to places where the needs are greatest."

Parks also noted that in a question-and-answer dialog with students, Birdsall quipped "Jesus called us to take up His cross and  carry it, not take a selfie with it."

In addition to Birdsall's lectures, current Beeson Divinity School student Bruce Persons spoke about missions among the deaf. The Southern Baptist International Mission Board has identified deaf peoples as one of nine primary global affinity groups.

The week also included Missiography, an exhibit of photography from about 30 members of the Samford community. At a meet-and-greet, photographers shared the stories behind their photos. The photos are on display in Samford's Harwell G. Davis Library for the next month.

Betsy Childs coordinates communications for Beeson Divinity School.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.