Twenty years is a major milestone for any organization. Global Scholars Canada (GSC), which celebrated with a new name, is no exception. Formerly known as Christian Studies International, its primary mission is to recruit and support Christian professors to teach in universities overseas, providing students with an education rooted in a biblical worldview.
Global Scholars partners with Christian Reformed World Missions to employ and support “missional academics.” According to GSC executive director Harry Fernhout, that relationship with World Missions goes back about 20 years.
“[The partnership] emerged out of the situation of a particular couple, Adrian and Wendy Helleman. They had been [World Missions] missionaries in the Philippines. When the former Soviet Union opened up, they had an opportunity to teach at the University of Moscow. They approached CRWM to see if there was any opportunity to carry on a relationship with them to enable them to generate church support for their work,” Fernhout explained. “An agreement emerged between Global Scholars and CRWM whereby members of the CRC who are working with Global Scholars overseas can be designated as partner missionaries with CRWM. That means they can access the resources of CRWM in terms of seeking support among CRC churches.”
Currently, Global Scholars has about 75 professors in universities overseas. Fernhout said, “They are not missionaries in the traditional sense, but often they’re in situations where a traditional missionary wouldn’t be able to get in the door. They are able to get into universities where the next generation of leaders is being trained. In that sense, we think this is a pretty strategic ministry.”
Fernhout, who is a member of CrossPoint CRC in Brampton, Ont., is enthusiastic about both the history and the potential of GSC’s partnership with CRWM. “World Missions has a broad vision of missions that includes witness in higher education—and that’s what we do. So there’s a very natural partnership.”
Rev. Gary Bekker, director of Christian Reformed World Missions, agreed. “Global Scholars seeks to bring glory to God and impact the world by developing godly leaders for every sector of society through global higher education,” he said. “This purpose fits well with the Christian Reformed understanding that the gospel addresses all of life. Global Scholars’ specialized focus and cost-effective operation makes the organization a great partner for Christian Reformed World Missions in placing Christian Reformed people in higher education—a strategic location for gospel service in the 21st century.”