The eight New Testament professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) not only teach on the Kingdom of God but are also living testimonies to advancing that Kingdom through missions.
The department is a foundational part of SEBTS’ focus on every classroom being a Great Commission classroom. The stories of three of the New Testament professors are featured below.
David Black, a Greek professor for over 35 years who currently teaches at SEBTS, participates in extensive missionary work in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to minister to the persecuted church. Black is known for writing about missions and using his vacation time to serve on missions trip. His wife, Becky, recently passed away but her legacy of service with her husband continues today with the planning of a ministry training center in Burji, Ethiopia in her honor.
“The greatest thing any local church could do for itself, for its people, and for the world is to publicly state its intention to place the Great Commission first in everything it does,” Black said. “All of us are called upon to pass along the Good News. How can we possibly do anything less?”
SEBTS professors are focused on discipling their students as they seek to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. David Beck stated, “If missions is disciple making, then I am still discipling in the classroom. As a New Testament faculty, we are all committed to being a Great Commission faculty. Being a Great Commission seminary is more than just a slogan for us; it’s an identity.”
Beck shared that his father was an American Baptist and Great Commission pastor. His father’s heart for missions was birthed during WW2 when he served in the U.S. Air Force. “He was part of a small group of young solders in India who were greatly influenced by the time they spent with Dr. and Mrs. Howard, missionaries in the Bengal Orissa region,” Beck said. “This gave him a lifelong missions focus both personally and as a pastor, which he passed on to me.”
Professors consistently focus on local missions as well as international outreach efforts. Ben Merkle served with the International Mission Board (IMB) in Malaysia for seven years and Indonesia for six months and uses illustrations from his experience in class. He has also participated in mission trips to Mexico, the Netherlands and the U.S. “Typically I begin a class with praying not only for our situation here but for missions,” he said.
“It is very natural for missions to come out in the content of the courses,” Merkle said. “For example, when teaching in 1 Corinthians, the issue of meat sacrifices to idols is addressed. I have gone into places where eating meat is a real issue.”
In 2013, SEBTS took eight mission trips, in the U.S. and beyond. “One is naturally thinking when is my next mission trip?” Merkle said. This mission mindset is central to these professors in fulfilling the Great Commission.
In the coming weeks, additional professors will be highlighted, stay tuned!
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.