DR. OWEN GORDON
Dr. Gordon is President of Jamaica Bible College (JBC) and community college. He also is a senior leader in the UB denomination in the Jamaican Conference. He currently serves as a pastor in the Conference and as board member of the Board of Trustees for Huntington University and Vice Chair for the Caribbean Evangelical Association. Dr. Gordon became president of JBC and has led the institution with a holistic approach. He has opened up the institution to the community. What was a predominantly Bible College is now expanded to offering many other disciplines. He has led the institution in offering a major in religion and a minor in business. This is a commendable move since the pastors often have to administer over the business affairs a degree with this depth would become invaluable. These are a few of the ways in which Dr. Gordon is leading holistically. He has a strong desire to see young boys become responsible members of the church and the community. He has trained many young men who are currently pastors and serving in other lead roles in their communities. Personally both Dr. Gordon and his wife have had profound impact on my life. My early training in ministry was under the leadership of Dr. Gordon: that involves church planting and leadership. The following is an interview with Dr. Gordon.
Jenkins –How would you describe your work as it relates to integration of the church and the community in your local context?
Gordon- My work has direct bearing on the community. For most of my ministry life, I have sought to engage young people in personal and group bible studies. I have also specifically, sought to develop a ministry geared to boys. There are boys in our communities who are left behind: (They received their socialization on the streets). Parents tend to pay more attention to girls’ socialization, while the boys develop on their own. I have a weekly club and an annual residential camp for boys.
Jenkins –What does accomplishment look like?
Gordon- Accomplishment is to see attitudinal changes in the lives of these boys as they grow through the stages of teens, adolescence and adulthood. Ideally we would like to see them accept Christ as Savior and become mature disciples.
Jenkins –What are the driving forces behind your work for God in your context?
Gordon- The driving force is a passion to see lives transformed for the Kingdom of God. To get young boys to avoid the destructive pitfalls that is commonly displayed in their daily lives.
Jenkins –What are some of the challenges you have encountered in this process?
Gordon- Challenges include: lack of financial help, poor support from fathers, resistance from the boys themselves, and the slowness of seeing the desired change.
Jenkins –How would you define missions?
Gordon- Missions is the availing and utilization of resources, both human and material for the specific purpose of reaching persons for Christ towards the goal of seeing them become mature Disciples of Christ. A further emphasis of Missions is the empowering of individuals and communities to become involved in reaching out to others in similar ways that they have been ministered to.
Jenkins –Do you think missions and evangelism are one in the same or are they different?
Gordon- Missions is broader than evangelism. Whereas evangelism is one of the goals of missions, evangelism tends to be narrow in that it is the reaching of persons to become Disciples of Christ. Missions involve holistic development. It is reaching, but it also involves the development, training, equipping and the sending of those to reach others.
Jenkins –Do you consider what you do as missions and in what way?
Gordon- Yes, it is the attempt to evangelize, train and empower young men to become mature and responsible men, impacting their homes, families and society for the glory of God.
Jenkins –Has the role of missions changed in the 21st century?
Gordon- Not much has changed, but persons involved in missions have been forced to refine their methods as they seek to do the work of Missions. There has been the challenge to broaden and redefine methodology in the context of a more secular society.
Jenkins –How does the church’s structure and systems aid or hindered this process?
Gordon- Often times the church’s persistence in holding to forms and structures can have a negative impact on the work of missions. Many times the society’s concept of church is very narrow and the conclusion that the only thing the church is concerned about is “your soul salvation”. Churches have begun to realize that you need to reach the whole man, helping him to be able to fulfill his many and various roles in society in a more effective and dynamic way.
Jenkins –How do the spiritual virtues help you in your efforts: praying, reading the bible, fasting etc.?
Gordon- The spiritual virtues are means to an end. They by themselves are not an end. They provide avenues and windows for personal and corporate growth and development. I use these virtues to help in my own spiritual development and seek to teach these to others to enable them to practice these for themselves.
Jenkins –What two experiences (personal stories) you have had during your work in your context that you would look at as a movement of God?
Gordon- Several years ago when I started working with boys, it seemed very discouraging because of their slowness in accepting suggested changes. Today I see some of the same boys who have grown to become responsible young men. In the process they have become Christians, members of the local church and are doing very well in school.
There are two brothers that were a part of my group some years ago. Today they are both in the Jamaican Police force serving in different areas and are both doing very well for themselves. They are making their parents, their communities, their church and their country proud of their achievements. That is the long-range goal of working with boys, to see them become men of purpose, stable and strong.
Jenkins –How do you prepare to meet the demands of the task you have before you?
Gordon- I am prepared to wait on the Lord for his gracious provisions, for personnel and finances to carry on. If I can continue to plant the seed in the hearts and lives of some other leaders to carry on this vision and hopefully inspire some of the young men from this program to become leaders, then my effort would not be in vain.
Jenkins –What are the spiritual tools that have helped you along the way?
Gordon- Personal prayer, prayerful support of others, the reading of the Word of God, the encouragement of others in giving support in cash, kind and personal involvement are all tools that have helped me. The driving passion: if I can make a difference in the life of one boy, it would be worth the effort. Along with all of this is the driving force and strong reminder that I am where I am today because someone took the time to help me to be a better person. A Sunday school teacher invested her life and resources in helping me to be a man of God. She and her husband sent me to JBC as a student; today I serve as president.
Jenkins –What do you see as the largest barrier(s) to fulfilling the missional call?
Gordon- The largest barrier to the fulfilling of the missional call is the pull of materialism. Our society has allowed materialism to be the driving force behind everything that we do. The real enemy behind all of this is the “god of the world”. The Evil One does not want persons to accept the missional call of God.