SEBTS luncheon highlights ministry in tough places

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Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) continually asks students the question, “Where are you going?” and challenges them to fill in the blanks with how they will advance the Kingdom of God. 

During the SEBTS alumni and friends luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, guests had the opportunity to see how two students have answered that question.

“I remember sitting in my first chapel service and hearing Dr. Akin give a charge to us to take the gospel to the lost,” said Andrew McNair, pastor for preaching and vision at Lamp City Church in Clarkston, Georgia, and a SEBTS alumnus. “He said that the question we should be asking ourselves is not why should I go but why should I stay.”

While at SEBTS, McNair saw how the Great Commission is tied to the local church, which led him to return to his home state to reach the nations. “Unreached peoples are now within arms reach of your local church,” McNair said. “It is now clear that one can be in America and still go. Global kingdom advancement can happen right here in our cities.” 

God has called McNair and Lamp City Church to impact the nations represented in their schools, community center and neighborhood. Through Peoples Next Door, a program of the Center for Great Commission Studies at SEBTS, McNair received training on how to reach internationals in his city. 

“So I fill in my blank by saying I am going to the nations with the gospel in Clarkston, Georgia,” McNair said.

He left the audience with this challenge: “How will you fill in yours?”

Alumni and friends also had the opportunity to hear from a unique type of student—one who was once imprisoned for planting churches in the Middle East.*

“I hear so many people talk about ‘I am going,’ but I am here to say thank you because you came,” the student opened. “Because you sent missionaries, God turned a fanatic Muslim to an ordained pastor, and now my wife and I are students at Southeastern.”

The student recounted his journey of coming to faith in Christ and being called by God to plant churches. He told of how authorities came to arrest him during a Christmas party and how he spent three months in jail for crimes against the government and Islam. 

After escaping his country, he and his family lived in Central Asia, where he began taking classes as a distance-learning student at SEBTS. Now living in the States, the family has the opportunity to attend SEBTS and finish their seminary degrees. 

“God has been so good to us,” he said. “My goal is to move toward the vision God has given me—to go and make disciples in my Jerusalem, my Judea, my Samaria and to the world.”

The student and his family want to reach the thousands of Muslims living in the Raleigh area and provide training for churches to reach people from their home country.

“I want to say a special thank you to Dr. Akin and Southeastern,” the student closed. “Because of [your] generosity, I have received a scholarship and I can be a student. Because of you, I can train, and now I can say I am going to reach Muslims.”

These testimonies led into a time of remembrance for Larry and Jean Elliott, SEBTS alumni who were martyred on the mission field. Summit Church Pastor and SEBTS alumnus J.D. Greear gave a message and asked guests to consider giving to the Larry and Jean Elliott Memorial Scholarship Fund, which supports students planning to be missionaries in closed countries.

“One of Southeastern’s objectives is to be able to see not just more people raised up to reach the already reached, but to see people going to the most difficult places in the world,” said Greear. 

Other guests at the SEBTS alumni lunch included David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, and Keith and Kristyn Getty, Christian music artists and modern hymn writers. Platt thanked SEBTS friends and alumni for the impact that SEBTS has around the world.

“The training [students] are getting from Southeastern is bearing glorious fruit around the world for the spread of the gospel,” said Platt. “The fruit that is flowing from Southeastern really cannot be measured, and that’s ultimately, obviously attributed to the grace of God in this school.” 

The Gettys closed the luncheon by performing their new song, “For the Cause,” which is now the official hymn for SEBTS and The College of Southeastern. They led the group in a time of worship and reflection on what God has done at SEBTS.

For more information about the Larry and Jean Elliott Memorial Scholarship Fund, click here.

*For security reasons, the name of this student has been withheld. 

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