Southeastern students seek to engage Columbus with the gospel
January 19, 2017
From the urban core to the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, students from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary partnered with the local church to engage the lost.
Twenty students and staff from Southeastern attended the 27th annual Crossover mission trip for a time of intense personal witnessing on June 8 – 13. The trip is held the week before the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting will take place.
During the week, Southeastern students had the opportunity to connect with students from other seminaries and hear from various seminary professors.
One hundred twenty-two students from Midwestern, New Orleans, Southern, Southeastern, and Southwestern seminaries and the Baptist College of Florida saw a total of 95 professions of faith and engaged in 1025 gospel conversations
SEBTS students partnered with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to reach Columbus, one of its 32 Send cities. According to NAMB, 2.1 million people live in metro Columbus and only 12.1 percent are affiliated with an evangelical church.
Dean Fulks, coordinator for SEND Columbus and lead pastor of LifePoint church in Ohio, said, “ForColumbus has set us our city years forward in gospel investment. In coming to Columbus, Crossover participants blessed our city, and they leave it much more blessed.”
Chuck Register, adjunct professor and executive leader of church planting and missions partnerships groups with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, led the Southeastern students.
“During the week we learned that in personal evangelism we must be dependent on the person and power of the Holy Spirit of God,” Register said. “Success in personal evangelism is not based upon the decision of the person receiving our witness, but on our obedience to be faithful sowers of Gospel seed.”
Register added that a highlight of the week was on Thursday afternoon in a local ice cream parlor. “As I looked around the room, SEBTS students were engaging people with the Gospel,” he said. “I marveled at the passion and zeal of those students as they lovingly shared Christ with the world around them.”
Barry Peters, associate pastor of Sycamore Creek Church in Ohio, spoke about the impact of Southeastern students serving his church for four days.
“Thank you so much to Southeastern Seminary in their passion for sharing the gospel,” he said. “Any person they encountered they would engage in conversations that would lead into a discussion about their spiritual journey.”
Activities ranged from door-to-door evangelism to service projects to people group mapping. Keelan Cook, urban resource coordinator at SEBTS, was responsible for mapping “people group clusters,” or collections of like-minded people from the same geographical region that share a similar culture.
“I am always fascinated by the rich diversity in our North American cities,” Cook said. “People do not naturally think of a city like Columbus as a center for the nations, but simply walking its streets for a week tears down that misperception.”
The team located communities of Eritrean, Ethiopian, Nepali and West African peoples in the area. ”From Somali markets with women in burkas to entire Nepali apartment complexes, Columbus is a rich tapestry of tribes, tongues, and peoples,” Cook said. “This new day in our North American cities is a work of God to bring the least reached within arms reach of the gospel.”
“I had students stop me at the end of the week and tell me how eye opening the work is,” he added. “It changes their perspective of missions and causes them to rethink how they will engage the people around them when they get home.”
Madria Spivey, a Southeastern student studying for a master of divinity in Christian ministry, said, “The Lord has reminded me of the gift of boldness that he has already given me. I must not lose heart or become quiet in my own community.”
Ivey Rhodes, another SEBTS student seeking a master of divinity in North American Church Planting, also participated in the mission. “This week has pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people,” he said. “It was amazing how the Holy Spirit was bringing out things I’d learned years ago in church history and theology so I could witness to a guy named Ron.”
“I’d encourage students to go on a school mission trip because it gives you the tools and practice to really enhance your gospel effectiveness,” Rhodes said.
To view photos from the trip, please click here.