George Robinson, associate professor of missions and evangelism, led a team of 15 students and spouses to South Asia in May.
Five couples and five individuals from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) participated in the mission. Several of the students had already served in the region and were returning to continue working in the area.
The group divided into three teams of five working with local partners in a mountainous region of South Asia. They engaged in church planting strategies, sharing the gospel among unengaged and unreached Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu people groups. The team saw five people come to faith in Christ through outreach efforts.
Participants also conducted training sessions for indigenous pastors and lay leaders. These times of informal theological education focused on Old and New Testament surveys, Ecclesiology and Sanctity of Life training.
This region is known for sex trafficking, political instability and opposition to the Gospel.
Robinson planned the trip logistics and functioned in a shepherding role before and during the mission. Throughout the mission he led daily devotions, and encouraged participants and nationals to help them to be more fruitful in their ministries. Robinson, a graduate of the SEBTS 2+2 program in 2001, said, “Those years of equipping were formative in my vision for the nations.”
He taught the cohesive storyline of the meta-narrative of Scripture in local house churches that had requested informal theological education. He hosted a nightly “ask anything” session for pastors and lay-leaders where they could ask biblical and theological questions. Robinson would then direct them to the Scriptures as they talked through each issue.
Many of the local Christian men and women know their Bibles very well despite their lack of formal theological education. They asked the team difficult questions that could only come from spending time in the Word.
The trip challenged each of the SEBTS participants. “It seems that I always need to learn more about humility,” Robinson added. “I’m a fairly experienced person in missions which can be a blessing or a curse. The weakness of that is that I can do a lot of activity in my own strength. On this trip, like so many others, God was gracious enough to bring me to the end of myself and make me rely on Him.”
Robinson said one of his favorite memories from the mission was “Seeing the incredible team unity that the Lord formed between our SEBTS students, residential missionaries, and national workers.”
Making and reproducing disciples was at the heart of the trip. “We have some incredible students at SEBTS,” Robinson emphasized. “This team was amazing. I never heard a single complaint, and South Asia provides quite a platform for culture shock. I witnessed our students taking initiative to minister to one another’s needs and to consistently put others above themselves. I observed quite a number of our students intentionally sharing the gospel with people throughout the journey. It was a blessing to be a part of that.”
Matthew and Heather are both full-time workers in South Asia. Matthew has a Master of Divinity in International Church Planting and Heather has a diploma in Women's Studies with a missions emphasis from Southeastern.
The Hirts hosted the team and connected them with national partners to facilitate the training of church leaders. Heather uses henna tattoo story designs, a popular art form in the region to share the Gospel with people.
A few of the participants work locally with international students at North Carolina State University and the trip proved to be an extension of their ongoing local ministry efforts.
In Raleigh, Jerry Mathis lives in an apartment complex with international refugees to whom he intentionally reaches out. “I get so pumped when I get to talk to people about the Gospel,” he said.
Paige Westberg helped document the mission through photography. She became interested in the trip through Robinson’s class on Christian missions and wanted to get a taste of what it is like to serve full-time in another country.
In preparation, participants enjoyed team dinners and skype sessions with missionaries. “We’ve become fast friends,” Westberg said. “The Gospel unifies different backgrounds, and everyone was ready to serve.”
Westberg said that God taught her humility throughout the mission, as she had to realize that she was, “not the mover and the shaker. He is the One changing the world.”
To view photos from this trip, 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.