Equipped for Lifelong Mission: A Graduate Spotlight
Lauren Pratt | May 27, 2021
Molly is undeterred when it comes to fulfilling God’s mission around the world. When she wanted to pursue theological education, she found a way to pay for school at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).
And when she realized her health issues were a barrier in getting to the mission field, she sought counsel and alternative opportunities for serving overseas. Her passion for the lost and commitment to God’s call on her life have been the driving force of her persistence. A Spring 2021 Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies graduate, Molly is hoping to use her theological preparation to serve in South Asia. In a recent interview, she discussed how her time at SEBTS has prepared her to serve in her current context of West Virginia and in the future as a missionary overseas. Check out the conversation below.
Why did you decide to come to Southeastern?
I graduated with my undergrad in 2016 and spent a little bit of time in Europe and New York City. I felt like I was serving here serving there, but I wasn’t prepared for longevity on the mission field. I wanted to go to seminary, but I didn’t want to have debt. The week I was leaving New York City, I got a call from the university that I did my undergrad at. They said that there was a job opening in the alumni office, and they asked if I wanted it. I started working there and because of working full time, I was able to pay for school out of pocket. I was working as a way to fund what I really wanted to do with my life. I knew about Southeastern, had gone on a tour, and knew it was where I wanted to go. But it was just a matter of making it possible.
What classes were most formative for you during your time at Southeastern?
I could choose between philosophy and ethics as one of my core classes, and I chose philosophy. I think that was probably the most transformative class because it was the most in depth I have thought about the Christian faith. There is such a thing as loving God with your whole mind. The emphasis put on that was so helpful and timely. I also had Bible storying with Dr. Grant Lovejoy. We had to go through the Bible storying process, and I had never thought about what you do in a culture where they don’t have a written language. I was working with my small group at my local church, and I told them that the rest of our time together, we were going to practice storying.
What has your experience been like as a distance learning student?
Whenever I got to be on campus, it was always the best because everyone was so welcoming to distance learning students. It could be very easy to just be totally disconnected and feel like you’re just talking to robots or you’re just responding to discussion boards—like there aren’t people behind the screen. But I came from my first hybrid weekend, and I just remember feeling like it was a breath of fresh air. I loved being a distance learning student because I loved immediately applying what I was learning online. It’s always just been so refreshing and encouraging to be around people who had the mindset, “We’re going to use this degree not for our self-promotion or so that we can get this promotion at work or so we can climb this ladder. Instead, we can go off the grid, tell people about Jesus, die, and no one knows our names.”
What have been a couple of experiences during your time at Southeastern that stand out to you?
I have an autoimmune disease, and it was on the International Mission Board’s list of barriers that would keep me from serving with that organization. My plan A was gone, and I didn’t know what to do. After that, I had a really good conversation with Dr. Robinson. He encouraged me to press on and keep going. That was really helpful for me. And it was very much like, no, this is not the end of the road—like if this is what you’re supposed to do, then this is what you’re supposed to do. We had a great conversation about looking elsewhere, and he was the person who encouraged me to look at what I know, what my skill set is, what I feel called to, and know what I want the organization to do for me. Dr. Robinson’s encouragement was something that I knew I would look back on because it was a pivotal time for me.
We always say around here that every classroom is a Great Commission classroom. How did you experience that in your classes?
At Southeastern, it was so apparent that was the case. None of my professors just gave me information, to accumulate knowledge. It was all so that you could immediately do something with it. At Southeastern, every class was like, “Here’s this information. Now go apply it.” Some of my assignments would be to share the gospel with a non-believer that week. I love that that was an assignment! Just seeing how assignments like that were literally equipping people to go.
Where would you like to serve overseas one day?
I went on a short-term trip to South Asia a couple of years ago, and I remember coming back and thinking that’s where my heart is. That’s where I want to be. I’m open to wherever he tells me to go, but I remember coming back and talking to some people who had also been in a similar area. I was like, “Isn’t it just the greatest place you’ve ever been?” And they were like, “No. I was sick the whole time.” But that turned into them being like, “I think that you should lean into that. If you feel that way, that very well could be the Lord putting this people group on your heart and putting this region on your heart.”
If someone is thinking about attending seminary, why should they consider Southeastern?
From the perspective of a woman who wants to pursue a life of vocational ministry, I felt fully equipped to do what the Lord has called me to do. Whenever I would go through things in real life, I knew I just needed to talk to one of my professors, and they’d give me answers. They wouldn’t just say, “Oh, that’s a tough one. Go talk to someone else.” They took my questions and my concerns seriously, and they took seriously what I knew I felt called to do with my life.
*This article has been edited for length and clarity.
*Last name removed for security reasons.