SNU Celebrates a Milestone – 30 Years of Commission Unto Mexico!
In 1989, SNU’s then-President Dr. Loren P. Gresham, and then-Theology Professor Dr. Roger Hahn had a deep desire to see Southern Nazarene University students experience a mission trip during their time on campus. That vision became Commission Unto Mexico. Now, thirty years later, it’s known as COM2MX and it’s still a life-changing missions experience.
Dr. Hahn organized and led the first group of 160 participants who served in Mexico City, beginning a legacy. With Missions Professor, Dr. Howard Culbertson, taking up the mantle after Hahn, the work and witness trips to Mexico grew to include participants from local churches across the South Central Region and states beyond. During the twenty-five years Culbertson served as director, district missions leaders and local churches began actively encouraging participation, and many churches established scholarships for their SNU students, members and family groups. It truly became a Work and Witness trip for all ages. Following Dr. Culbertson’s retirement, Professor Eileen Ruger arrived at SNU to serve on faculty and lead COM2MX.
Over the decades there have been many cities in Mexico that have benefited from the work and resources the COM2MX teams have provided. This year’s destination was the beautiful city of Guadalajara, where seventy-five team members from six states partnered with four local churches to impact the city with free medical care, youth events and VBS for children, as well as much-needed construction being completed at several facilities. Mexican physicians and health care workers staffed the clinics with SNU’s medical team members assisting, and NYI leaders and teens from local churches worked hand-in-hand with COM2MX teams to hold outreach events in local parks and gathering places.
Professor Ruger reflected on the 30th Anniversary trip, saying, “As we worked with our Mexican brothers and sisters in Christ, we were constantly amazed at their devotion to the Lord and willingness to allow our group to be part of their ministries, even for a few days. We were energized to be bold for the sake of Gospel!”
An important part of the journey was the partnership of COM2MX with Nazarene Border Initiative, led by SNU alums Roberto and Rhesa Rodriguez. Based in El Paso, Texas, the Rodriguez’ worked closely with Superintendent of Distrito Occidente, Rev. Leonardo Peralta, and Mexico Field Strategy Coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Jorge Cordova, to make the trip not only ‘cross-cultural’ but truly ‘inter-cultural’ in mission.
A meaningful highlight took place at the opening service as all of the groups came together in worship. Mrs. Mary Johnson, widow of Nazarene missionary Rev. Jim Johnson, shared a remembrance of the dedication and spiritual impact of Rev. Johnson and Bethany, Oklahoma’s Dr. Fred Siems, who died in a tragic automobile accident at the close of the 1998 trip, while several other occupants were seriously injured. Their passion for the mission has inspired countless others in the years that have followed.
Ruger said, “I am grateful to all who invested their time and resources to be part of this trip.” She concluded, “We worked together – we collaborated and invested in each other – revealing the love of Christ in each of our hearts.”
Farewell to Naz Nite at Six Flags
A Message from President Newman
Greetings from Southern Nazarene University!
My purpose in writing today is to make you aware of a major change that impacts the calendar in the fall of this year. After consultation with the South Central Regional Nazarene Youth International Council, negotiations with Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc. personnel, and an evaluation of the financial implications and attendance trends, SNU has made the decision not to continue NazNite at Six Flags.
For 40 years this annual gathering has been a positive event and an opportunity for the largest gathering of Nazarenes of the South Central Region to enjoy a great time of fellowship and fun. We loved the ability to showcase SNU as a part of this night and to connect with prospective students and their families. The rides and funnel cakes were a bonus.
Here are the realities we face:
- Ticket and parking prices have continued to rise
- Attraction of amusement parks have continued to decline
- Our inability to meet the guaranteed number of tickets sold in a number of years
- Little influence on the date assigned by Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc. for NazNite
We want to be great stewards of all God has given us and this decision will allow us to be more strategic and efficient in creating opportunities to connect students with SNU. Plans are on the drawing board for some additional, more targeted events, that will provide mission and leadership development possibilities for high school students from across the region. Stay tuned for coming announcements.
Thanks for your continued support of SNU and our mission to make Christ-like disciples through higher education!