Asbury Seminary has a long history of emphasizing the importance of international outreach and global missions. The Seminary’s vision to train ministers from around the world goes all the way back to the Seminary’s founder, Henry Clay Morrison. Morrison had a lifelong passion for evangelism and missions, and a vision for sending the gospel to the whole world. This enthusiasm led Morrison to spend much of his twenty years in evangelistic ministry traveling the globe, including a world tour in 1909. He shared his passion with Asbury College students by encouraging them to consider international missionary work. Likewise, Morrison appealed to international students to come study in the U.S. with the hope that they would return to their home countries to become ministers to their own people. Morrison’s appeal was answered in 1927 when Asbury College welcomed its first international students, Wan-Yu Chang from China, and Kenichi Tsuchiay from Japan.
Morrison’s vision was shared by his successor, J.C. McPheeters. McPheeters fully embraced the Seminary’s motto, “The whole Bible for the whole world.” In 1946 McPheeters recommended that the Seminary create a school of missions and evangelism. By 1948 there were 13 international students from six countries studying at Asbury Seminary. That same year, in a graduating class of 68 students, 16 of them became missionaries for The Methodist Church. Within a decade of McPheeters’ decision to create a school for missions and evangelism, the Seminary enrollment included students from 12 nations. In response to the growing number of international students McPheeters said, “Asbury Theological Seminary is a world institution in the scope of her outreach unto the farthermost parts of the earth.”
To further prove the Seminary’s commitment to training international students, in 1949 McPheeters established the “Foreign Students Scholarship Fund” to connect American sponsors with students coming to Asbury Seminary from around the world. This scholarship program helped a number of students, including Samuel Kamaleson, who became one of the world’s great evangelists and vice president-at-large for World Vision International. Kamelason has spent decades truing pastors and leaders all over the globe, and is said to have spoken to more international pastors than any person in Christian history.
Today there are more than 44 countries represented at Asbury Seminary, and our alumni serve around the world in more than 66 countries. Asbury Seminary has become one of the most ecumenical and multinational seminaries in the world.