Established in 1923, SMU has made steady progress in fulfilling the Great Commission. Original membership of SMU was divided into two groups: active members, who planned to serve abroad, and associative members, who prayed for and gave to the cause of world missions. In the 1930s and 40s, deputation teams of about six union leaders traveled throughout greater Los Angeles carrying out SMU goals and activities. The SMU prayer bands originated in the 1920s and played a crucial role in the union’s effectiveness. Over the years countless groups of students have gathered to pray for the nations, missionaries and the lost worldwide.
In 1940 SMU had missionaries coming from all over the world to share with students. They also were having prayer bands and deputation teams.
In 1950 SMU had weekly Wednesday night meetings during which particular needs of the world would be presented. Ten prayer bands would meet to pray for specific countries and needs. Finally, each Monday through Friday morning SMU would hold a prayer meeting as well as having SMU Gospel Teams filtering out into churches on Sunday evenings. During this time SMU supported Biola graduates in foreign fields by dividing $6,000 among them.
In the 1960s, weekly meetings continued in SMU. The union also decided to undertake a new task each semester, funded by student offerings. One task involved getting a bus for the Navajo Gospel Mission in Oraibi, Arizona because the mission had been using a truck to transport the kids 140 miles away to the summer camp.
Over 200 Biola students helped with the Watts-Mead Program, which was sponsored by SMU and World Opportunities. Some other activities of SMU during the year including aiding Operation Jericho, Ministries of the Hindustan Bible Institute, Children’s Orphanage Home in Vietnam, and contributing to the printing of Christian books in Russian.
SMU prayer groups averaged 250 students as the 80's came along. SMU also sent 130 students to four programs, which included Fred C. Nells Correctional Facility, Mexican Outreach, Southern Los Angeles Churches and Community Outreach. Throughout the year 600 students got involved in SMU.
Throughout the 1990s SMU started to experience the effects of many changing global factors as they considered how to best equip missionaries for spreading the gospel. The goal of SMU during this time was to break the mold of traditional missions and strive to expand the ideals of mission. During this time SMU saw a shift from tribal ministry and personal limitations to urban ministry and governmental restrictions.
As we have crossed into the new millennium SMU has continued to grow. With 26 staff members, SMU has five departments running: Short-Term Missions, Missional Development, Executive Department, Missions Conference, Office Administration, and Marketing&Communications. Global Intercession Groups continue in their effort to intercede for the nations and students meet daily for focused prayer. Teams are being sent out every interterm and summer. Missions Conference transforms students every year, offering new insight into global Christianity and opportunities to engage the world.
As SMU continues to grow, new projects and ideas continue to form each year. Both Marketing & Communications (Marcom) and Missional Development (MD) have expanded into territory with Marcom adding videographers and a communications coordinator and MD developing Impact Teams. SMU continually strives to stand beside the student body at Biola University and empower them to reach the nations for Christ by going, sending, and praying.
SMU strives on to stand beside the student body at Biola University and empower them to reach the nations for Christ by going, sending, and praying.