Send Conference challenges students to live missionally


By Laura Coulter

What is the mission of God? What does it cost? And how does one live it out?

High school and college students as well as student pastors listened intently as speakers answered these questions during the student track breakout sessions at the 2013 Send North America Conference. Taking place July 29-30 in Plano, Texas, this year’s conference featured breakout and workshop sessions designed specifically to help students and student leaders discover and develop God’s call on their lives.

“The conference was designed for people and churches to take their next step in penetrating lostness in North America,” Chad Childress, team leader for the North American Mission Board’s mobilization development, explained. “The student track helped us begin that conversation and cast vision to students and student leaders about the great need and opportunities in North America.”

The track itself saw more than 350 registered to attend.

“I came because I wanted to decide if I wanted to go to the mission field,” said Erin Kerns, a high school student from Dallas who attended the student track. “This conference taught me a lot about what it would be like to actually live that life.”

Keanu Pritchett, a high school student from Pottsboro, Texas, said the speakers inspired him to be more assertive with the gospel among his classmates and to keep his Christian friends accountable to living for Christ.

“I need to live my life for Christ, but I also need to reach out to people,” Pritchett said. “I need to show them that they need to live their lives for Christ, too.”

Both Kerns and Pritchett said they were impacted by a breakout session with D.A. Horton. Horton is executive director of ReachLife Ministries, as well as an author, preacher and gospel rap artist with years of experience in urban ministry.

“I like how he talked about how we can distribute the gospel in different ways… to different cultures, in different places,” said Pritchett.

Horton stressed the importance of expressing God’s Word in a culturally relevant way that others could understand, while still recognizing that “it’s not the method that saves people—it’s our Messiah.”

“We translate (His Word) and God transforms (our hearts) because the Gospel transcends (all cultures),” Horton explained.

He also mentioned the influence of hip-hop on modern culture, especially with today’s youth. Horton served as emcee for the student late night concert on Monday evening, sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in Christian hip-hop, including Lecrae, Tedashii and Andy Mineo. The artists performed in front of a sold-out crowd of students, other conference attendees and fans from the general public, using the concert as an opportunity to share the motivation and cost for a life lived following Christ.

Fellow student track speaker Afshin Ziafat knows a great deal about this cost. Ziafat was raised as a Muslim and disowned by his father when he became a Christian preacher.

“I could’ve been a doctor and had my dad be proud of me, but I would’ve missed the life God had for me,” Ziafat shared.

He now pastors Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, teaches a weekly Bible study at Baylor University and trains future Iranian ministry leaders.

Alvin Reid, an author and professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, continued with the theme of mission in the final student breakout, reminding listeners not to confuse living within Christian subculture with truly following Christ.

“You are plenty old enough to live out the mission of God in the context of where you are right now,” Reid said.

He went on to name five keys to practically living a missional lifestyle: understanding gospel centrality, living the mission in families, extending the mission globally, developing a personal missional strategy and prayer.

The student track was just one of many offered to attendees at this year’s Send North America Conference. Each track was designed to help individuals interested in ministry or already serving as they live out God’s call on their lives.

See more on the Send North America Conference at Learn more about Generation Send at

Laura Coulter, from Richmond, Ky., served as a NAMB Generation Send student missionary in Atlanta this summer.


Published August 13, 2013