By CHRIS MARTIN
A SEBTS alumna participated in the 2+2 program at Southeastern in which she spent two years studying on campus and actually three years working as a missionary in the Middle East. She shared a bit about how Southeastern was instrumental in equipping her for Great Commission work on the mission field. (For security reasons, her name will not be mentioned.)
Q: Tell us a little bit about your ministry.
A: I recently got back to the United States after spending three years serving overseas in the Middle East. Last month I took a position at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina serving as Pastor J.D. Greear’s assistant. He keeps me on my toes.
Q: Why Southeastern?
A: When I graduated from the University of Georgia I was planning on immediately going overseas. But at the time, my father was really sick with cancer. I knew it wasn’t the right time to leave for two years and that’s when I heard about the 2+2 program at Southeastern. Dr. Alvin Reid had come to speak at a college event, and it seemed like a perfect fit. I’m glad I was able to have that time with my father and still pursue future missions opportunities.
Q: What was your most influential moment at Southeastern?
A: My very first semester at Southeastern was pivotal for me, because my father passed away during that time. The people that came around me during that difficult time—both students and faculty—encouraged me tremendously and loved me as only the body of Christ could. I was able to walk through a season of grief and still prepare for missions largely because of that remarkable community of love.
Q: What challenges did you face as a missionary?
A: I had a ton of problems. I believe that it was a matter of spiritual warfare. Over and over again my health would simply fall apart and distract me from my ministry. Add to that the everyday challenge of being a single woman in a conservative Muslim culture, where I was viewed with suspicion—if I was viewed at all—and it made for a difficult time.
Q: What is the greatest joy that you have had as a missionary?
A: Discipling a new believer and seeing that faith grow is one of the most joyous experiences for anyone on the mission field. I was thrilled to watch new believers make the risky move to engage their family and their culture with their new faith. I always came away encouraged and challenged myself, because I could see how God had powerfully moved in that person. The joys of seeing God work on the field was a large part of what kept me there despite the adversity.
Q: What advice do you have for current and future missionaries?
A: Future missionaries, soak in this time of preparation. Learn about your people group, about their culture, about their language and about everything! Don’t neglect your own relationship with God, because that will come under fire early and often. Some of God’s greatest work is done when you feel like you’re waiting.
Q: What was your favorite class or professor at Southeastern?
A: My first Hebrew class with Dr. McDaniel was the first Bible class I had ever taken. He had us sing a hymn together at the beginning of our first class. I remember thinking, “How awesome is it that I get to study the Bible like this?”
Q: What is one book—other than the Bible—that everyone should read?
A: I was already well on the path to the mission field when I picked up John Piper’s “Let the Nations Be Glad!” Unlike a lot of other people I know, it wasn’t that book that pushed me to missions but I can’t think of a more passionate vision for missions out there.
Q: What has God been teaching you lately?
A: God has taught me a lot about what it means to trust in His unexpected plan. I’m working at a church now, and that’s not something I anticipated even just a few months ago. I’m learning what it means to serve the Kingdom in His timing and on His terms.
Q: Southeastern is known as a “Great Commission seminary.” How did Southeastern prepare you to be a Great Commission missionary?
A: Southeastern equipped me to recognize the world and to see the significance of each of the people I was going out to minister to. Southeastern was also great at preparing me for living in a completely different culture.
Q: What do you appreciate most about your Christian faith, especially after being on the mission field?
A: You don’t decide to be a Muslim in the Middle East. You just are one. Being a Christian there made me realize the value of having the freedom to choose Jesus, and not having a religion forced upon me. I can never get over the love of Christ that we experience, which is so unique when compared to the oppression that other faiths create.
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.