Motivating Missions Support

September 2, 2008

A1990 Baylor graduate, Shanna Harmon O'Donnell was an active member of the Baptist Student Union during her time on campus. She served as chair of Missions Emphasis Week in 1989, and went on three Baylor-sponsored mission trips while a student.

Her parents, Lynn and Jacqueline Harmon, were so moved by Shanna's stories about her experiences that they decided to do something to ensure that future Baylor students would have the same opportunities Shanna had. In 2004, the Harmons established a fund to permanently endow Missions Week at Baylor.

"I think this is one of the best investments we could make," Jacqueline Harmon says. "Missions Week is an opportunity to reach out into the campus community. There is an impact on the students and their decision to enter mission work."

Since 1983, the student-led Missions Week has offered Baylor students the chance to interact with missionaries from all over the world. About 25 missionaries come to Waco to host seminars, speak in classes and to student organizations, and meet with anyone interested in learning about how God is moving globally and how students and faculty can get involved.

The Harmons utilized a unique approach when deciding to endow Missions Week at Baylor, structuring their large lead gift as a challenge grant intended to motivate others to help fully fund Missions Week.

"The challenge grant is a way to reach the objective of permanently endowing Missions Week while emphasizing an increased activity in the fundraising," Lynn Harmon explains. "We're very appreciative of Baylor accepting the challenge."

Missions Week 2008 will run Oct. 12-16. The lead gift from the Harmons has allowed Baylor to increase the scope of Missions Week, increasing the event to include a fifth day and securing both nationally recognized speakers in missions education and scholarship and retired or furloughing missionaries to speak in classes, Chapel and at seminars.

The Harmons are hopeful that other Baylor alumni, friends and supporters will recognize the tremendous opportunity in Missions Week and contribute to the challenge fund. The challenge ends in 2009, so those interested in supporting Missions Week should contact the Baylor development office (254-710-2561) soon.

"I hope that people can see the wealth of potential in the students," Jacqueline Harmon said.