Luncheon highlights God’s grace to SBC, Southeastern Seminary

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The day after the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force motion passed at the Southern Baptist Convention, some of its biggest supporters came together to rejoice at the work of God in the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention.

On the heels of the passing of the motion, presidents Jerry Rankin, Johnny Hunt and Daniel Akin gathered together at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Alumni and Friends luncheon on June 24. The luncheon, which is held every year during the annual Southern Baptist Convention, is a chance for Southeastern alumni and supporters to hear about what God is doing at and through Southeastern.

Rankin, who is president of the International Mission Board, spoke first, giving thanks to Southeastern for her work in producing men and women who are sold out for the gospel message, many pledging to serve Christ with their lives as international missionaries. 

“I would just like to express my appreciation for the missions-focused seminary that Southeastern is,” Rankin said. “We are so grateful for your partnership and what you’re doing for missions. What a joy it is for the IMB to have a partnership with Southeastern, which is calling students to the global mission task.”

Speaking to the reality that because of a lack of funds, the IMB will have to suspend sending any new short-term missionaries through the International Service Corps or Masters programs, Rankin said they would not be suspending the 2+2 program. The program is a partnership between the IMB and a Southern Baptist seminary that allows students two years of full-time study on campus and two years of international missions service. “We’re not touching the 2+2 program – we’re keeping that going. We anticipate a radical increase in that program as the only option for short-term missions,” Rankin said.

“When I see students hit the ground overseas, already trying to plant a church, I can assume that student is a graduate of Southeastern Seminary. Thank you so much for this partnership.”

Hunt, alumnus of Southeastern, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the leading proponents of the Great Commission Resurgence movement among Southern Baptists, echoed his appreciation for Southeastern, as well as his joy at God’s grace in passing the motion the previous night.

Hunt said he was reminded of the Biblical Caleb, who held onto his dream God had given him for Hebron for 40 years.

“I desire to have a ministry and mission like Caleb,” Hunt said. “God has shown me that it’s not about having our way, it’s about having the way.” Although Caleb faced opposition in taking possession of Hebron, the land he believed God gave him, he said Caleb held onto his dream and kept fighting the fight for Hebron – the land of plenty.

“What he basically said is ‘I still have fight in me. I still want Hebron,’” Hunt said. “How difficult was it for Caleb to keep that dream alive for 40 years? He decided he would never allow the people to have his dream.

“What happens to every Southern Baptist pastor is they allow people to steal their dream. Don’t let anybody steal your dream. God gave it to you. Keep it sacred.  I want to encourage you to be a Caleb,” Hunt said.

Echoing his statements made at last year’s alumni luncheon, Hunt said to continue fighting for the dream of having all people hear the gospel message by continuing to give financially in support of Southeastern and in anticipation of being able to give generously to those in need at next year’s convention meeting in Orlando. “Let’s love big in this nation.”

The final speaker to address the gathered alumni was Akin, president of the seminary. As the author of the booklet “Axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence,” he said he is often asked what the big plan is. “The grand plan is this: let’s get the gospel to the nations and to the 1.6 billion who have never heard the name of Jesus. Let’s get the gospel to the great cities in America where people are flooding in droves. The bottom line is not to take over anything or dismantle anything – it’s to be as passionate as we can possibly be for the great commission.”

This passion, he said, is what drives the seminary he leads and the convention he is a part of.
“I think we saw last night by the glorious and gracious hand of God, Southern Baptists come together in humility. It revealed what is at the very heart of God, which is the fulfillment of his great commission.

“I believe God orchestrated the events of last night, that resulted, with energy and excitement, with the appointment of a task force,” Akin said. “It will result in even more passion in getting the gospel to the nations. I am so excited to be a Southern Baptist. I really do believe there is a new, pulsating energy moving throughout the SBC and I am excited to be a part of it.”


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