Southeastern student, Derrick Rudolph, works with disaster relief in Puerto Rico

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Boxes shuffled quickly from one table to the next as faculty and staff at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) packed food items for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico. At the last table stood Derrick Rudolph, a student at SEBTS and staff member at the Center for Great Commission Studies (CGCS).

For Rudolph, taping these boxes is only the beginning of the work he plans to be a part of in Puerto Rico. This month, he leaves for six months to work with the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief.

Rudolph took some time to share about his role in Puerto Rico and how the Lord has led him to this point.

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What are you going to be doing while in Puerto Rico?

In Puerto Rico, I’ll be mainly focused on disaster relief efforts while assisting with coordination of teams coming for short-term mission work.

How did this opportunity come about?

My supervisor affirmed the genuineness of this call that he had seen in me and mentioned the possibility of being able to serve for an extended time in Puerto Rico, helping with hurricane relief.

Do you see yourself doing something like this long term?

Absolutely I could see myself doing this long term. My heart for Spanish speaking people developed after my undergraduate. It has been my desire since becoming a Christian to go and work with Latinos, particularly youth vulnerable to gangs.

What was the process like in deciding to go?

For a week I prayed, asking that God would reveal reasons that I should not go, and I brought the opportunity before my growth group and closest brothers. After a week, I’d received nothing but affirmation. I also had logistical issues answered concerning infrastructure and the ability to continue taking classes while there.

How did you come to know the Lord and end up pursuing theological education?

I did not grow up in a Christian household, and did not consider God in my life until I was already in college at the University of Alabama. Before this time, I’d been to church around five times in my life. While living a very sinful, selfish life in college, I was very confused when I began to feel conviction seemingly out of nowhere. I felt as if perhaps God were leading me to discover who he was. I received a tract in my mail that I normally would have thrown away, but it asked the question of how one gets to heaven and revealed that while most people think that you must be a good person, biblically that is incorrect. The next week the Gideon’s were on campus, and I stopped and talked to this gentleman for close to 30 minutes, telling him of all that had been occurring in my life. He affirmed that God was prodding my heart. On January 9, 2011, I woke up very early with the unshakable feeling that I needed to go to church. Fall 2011, I decided I wanted to know Christ and follow Him. I began working with youth at that church, which led me to doing some mission opportunities with Latinos in Arlington, Texas. I felt very strongly that the next “breadcrumb” of obedience for me would be to go to seminary to become better equipped for the next “breadcrumbs” to come.


*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

From our local community to the outermost parts of the world, Southeastern students and alumni are reaching people with the gospel by fulfilling the Great Commission. Using the model of Acts 1:8, we want to highlight these stories of how our Southeastern family is serving in North Carolina, North America and around the world. Acts 1:8 Stories create a collective and consistent way to tell the story of Southeastern, one person at a time. From local pastors to missionaries among the unreached, God is doing a great work among students and alumni. Where are they now and where are they going? We can’t wait for you to find out! 

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