Q&A: SMU presidential candidate Bobbi Thompson

The junior communication studies major explains why she is running for president of the Student Missionary Union.

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Courtesy of Bobbi Thompson

Micah Kim, News Editor

WHY DO YOU FEEL EQUIPPED TO LEAD SMU?

Bobbi Thompson: “I think in so many ways I still feel unqualified and there’s so much I’m going to be asking for guidance and wisdom and need to learn as I go. 

“I have been involved in [Student Missionary Union] since my freshman year. I started off doing Missions Conference staff and then my sophomore year, I was a department coordinator for Missions Conference and then this past fall semester I led a local missions team with a friend and that was amazing.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK SMU’S ROLE IS? HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE IT?

Bobbi Thompson: “SMU’s role on campus―and not saying that it is this right now, I think in some ways it is―the goal of SMU is really more than anything a launching pad, shooting students out, not just in their time at Biola, into missions. But so when they are outside of Biola, [SMU can give] students the passion to do missions and hopefully to teach them how to do missions well. 

“And there [are] obviously ways things can grow and improve but that should be the role that SMU plays—a place where every demographic of student can come and join in unity over a passion to spread the love and the truth of the gospel and something that is a passion that is sort of planted in students far beyond Biola.”

WHERE DO YOU THINK SMU IS FALLING SHORT RIGHT NOW AND HOW CAN IT IMPROVE?

Bobbi Thompson: “I think something that this year’s team has done really well that I think needs to continue to grow and expand is sustainability in short-term missions, because honestly short-term missions are such a hard thing and unless it’s being done sustainably, I think they can be a lot more harmful than they are positive. 

“So developing relationships with international organizations so we’re not just going to places that would be a cool experience for us, because it really should never be about our experience and only about places where we can join people who are living there.”

“Another thing that has been heavy on my heart… There just has not been great integration in relationships with a lot of students of color and global students within SMU and I think there has been a lot of hurt and a lot of broken trust there… 

“I mean, if we’re fulfilling the Great Commission, it should be a place where everyone feels like they’re represented within SMU on staff, but also [that] they have a voice. If anything on campus, this should be a common denominator that unifies us, but it hasn’t been in the past and so that’s something huge.”

WHAT DEPARTMENTS DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO EXPAND OR STRENGTHEN WITHIN SMU?

Bobbi Thompson: “I think it would be really cool to have a position that is specifically for global student representation and coordination. It’s going to be so hard to have global students participate if there’s no one representing them. Honestly, there’s so much we could learn and there’s so much valuable stuff that we can learn from global students and their experiences and people they know and just teaching us how to do things better. 

“I’m really excited to see how local missions continue to grow and develop because that’s a lot newer. It’s only been around for five years and it’s grown a lot in that time, but I feel like we should probably be doing the most locally and helping where we are because we have so many tools and connections here.” 

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU LEARNED FROM THE PREVIOUS LEADERS OF SMU?

Bobbi Thompson: “I love answering this because honestly the reason―yes, there’s so much that needs to grow and can change within SMU―but the reason more than anything why I’ve been inspired to do it is because [of] how I’ve been led by people that are in SMU currently. 

“The directors I was under as a Missions Conference coordinator, Chris Middleton and Claire Pettit, the way they disciple our team and just made it feel like a family with people that maybe I would have never hung out with outside of it was so cool. Watching the leadership of Joe [Lee], the local missions director and serving under him, just—oh my gosh—I have so much respect for him and the way he takes care of his staff. 

“I think more than anything, I’ve been inspired by—and this is consistent between Missions Conference directors, [current SMU President] Carly [Micheal], Joe, Colton [Stoody], the global director right now—is a willingness and a communal desire to grow and to be okay with being uncomfortable, to get things to change. And that takes a lot of humility as a leader to do that and that has just inspired me so much.”

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