Fall Convocation speech honors missionary Bertha Smith
January 19, 2017
Students and faculty joined together at a crowded fall Convocation chapel service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on August 19 in Binkley Chapel.
Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern, addressed students representing a student body of 3,218 students in spring 2014 with expected growth this fall. He chose to begin the semester by focusing on the Baptist missionary Bertha Smith.
Akin’s sermon was based on Galatians 2:20 and titled “Bertha Smith: A Soul-Winning Missionary and Woman of Prayer, Revival and the Victorious Christian Life.”
Smith, a South Carolina native, served for almost 42 years in China and Taiwan as a single woman from 1917 to 1958. She is often referred to as “the unknown or forgotten successor of Lottie Moon.” Southern Baptist Convention churches annually request funds to support the International Mission Board called “The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.”
The audience was called to “live the crucified life” by dying daily to oneself. As a single woman on the mission field, Smith is an example in Akin’s eyes of someone who had lived a sacrificial life for Jesus with “soul winning first place in her heart.”
Akin encouraged listeners to “live by Christ living in us” and to “live a life of faith in Jesus.”
“Salvation results not only in our identifying with Christ in His death and crucifixion, it also involves our identifying with Him in His life and resurrection,” Akin emphasized.
Smith consistently endured opposition, persecution and ridicule while “she stood steadfast in grace, conviction and mercy,” Akin noted.
During her time in China, “The Shantung Revival” began in 1927, and she was a central part of God’s work in the region. The Christian population in the area grew from 5 million at the time of her retirement to between 50 and 70 million when she died.
Akin believes that God wants to see revival throughout the world through broken, humble, and spirit filled followers of Christ.
Students were also called to “live in the reality of the atoning love of the Son of God.”
“Miss Bertha was utterly mastered by the cross,” Akin said. “She never doubted the specific, personal, particular love Christ has for her and the millions of Chinese she longed to see saved. That is why she was a 24/7 walking, talking, breathing soul-winning machine.”
Also during chapel, Tony Merida, Johnny Hunt Chair of Biblical Preaching and associate professor of preaching, was presented with the “Faculty Excellence and Teaching Award.” Bruce Ashford, provost of Southeastern, said, “We are deeply grateful for all he has done for God’s kingdom and this seminary.”
Regular chapel services are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the semester.
To watch this message online, please click here.
To view photos from Convocation, please click here.