Four of the New Testament professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) answered an unexpected calling to teaching as a way to fulfill their role in the Great Commission.
Scott Kellum never had the view that he should stay at home. “The Lord had been working on me with the issue of teaching,” he said. “I wanted to be on the front lines, not in the background. I believe that we ought to deeply consider being on the mission field unless God tells us otherwise.” He has traveled to Romania, Vietnam and Uganda.
“As a scholar and professor, I have opportunities to impact translation and actually put translators on the field,” Kellum said. “I have more opportunity to impact missions as a seminary professor than as a missionary.”
Maurice Robinson is the longest serving professor in the SEBTS New Testament department with 23 years of teaching seminary students. He earned a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from SEBTS in the early 1970s. Robinson has traveled to Mexico, the Czech Republic, Trinidad and Puerto Rico to be a witness for Christ through teaching or missions.
At 18, Robinson became a believer after a college English teacher told the class that if they did not have any understanding of the Bible it would be impossible to understand American literature. He took her statement as a challenge and began to read the Scriptures and was “converted through the work of the Holy Spirit.”
“The Great Commission is not only evangelism but teaching people to observe all things commanded,” he said. “How do you know what things are commanded unless you have a very solid biblical founding in the New and Old Testament?” He urged others to “be faithful to your calling. You are called into a specific form in which you will fulfill the Great Commission.”
David Lanier became a Christian through the ministry of The Gideons International and initially thought he would become an overseas missionary; however, God called him to the seminary classroom. Lanier has participated in overseas missions to Sri Lanka, Israel, Mexico, Czech Republic and Russia, and has studied in Turkey and Greece.
Lanier continues to see his life as a mission field for Christ as he participates in Civil War reenactments and uses the opportunity to witness about his faith in Jesus. “I have a love for the Bible and history,” he said. Lanier also has shared the Gospel by participating in archeological excavation.
Chuck Quarles and his wife also intended to be lifelong missionaries. “My wife and I were appointed by the IMB as career missionaries in Bucharest, Romania. For three years I taught New Testament and Greek and partnered with local Romanian churches to do evangelism and church planting,” Quarles said. “We were not able to stay in Romania like we hoped. We had the intention of spending the rest of our ministry there.”
Quarles served as a pastor for 10 years before teaching fulltime. He took students in Kentucky to meet for Bible studies with residents disabled from black lung disease. In Turkey and Africa he encouraged the people to commit to following Christ alone and abandon following past religious practices. He also preached on the streets and did door-to-door evangelism in Kazakhstan.
A common thread among the hearts of the SEBTS New Testament faculty is to make the most of every opportunity to be a witness for Christ. “Now my main focus is to be faithful to share the Gospel at any opportunity the Lord presents,” Quarles said. “When teaching the New Testament or Greek exegesis, if missions and evangelism are not addressed, we have somehow missed the point.”
To view part one of this article, please click here.
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.