Former SBTS prof visits from mission field

Communications Staff — March 5, 2008

Mark Terry left his position as a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004 to answer God’s call to the mission field.

But this semester he is back on campus teaching classes and sharing with students firsthand knowledge about what they will face if they follow Christ to overseas mission

Terry currently serves through the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention as director of missions studies at a seminary in the Pacific Rim and said his experiences there have helped him teach more effectively about Asia.

“My responsibilities have taken me all over Asia,” Terry said, “so I have a broader perspective on the needs and progress in Asia than I did before.”

Terry’s return to Southern, where he served as a
professor of Christian missions and evangelism for 11 years, occurred as the result of a one-semester swap with George Martin, Southern’s Rankin Professor of Christian Mission and associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. Martin is spending the current semester teaching missions in the Pacific Rim in Terry’s place.

“We had arranged to spend our furlough teaching at Southern, and Dr. Martin was due for sabbatical leave,” Terry said. “I needed someone to teach missions courses at our seminary in Asia, so I asked Dr. Martin if he could come to Asia. He and his family are staying in our apartment and driving our car.”

In his post overseas, Terry has both academic and church responsibilities. In addition to administering the missions studies program at his seminary, he teaches masters and doctoral-level courses. He also serves as a consultant in leadership training for missionaries in the Pacific Rim and has been involved in church planting and university student evangelism.

In both the academic and local church arenas, Terry said God has blessed him with success.

“We’ve served in the Pacific Rim for three years now,” he said. “During that time we’ve seen a master of arts in missiology degree program established at the our seminary. We’ve also established a doctor of missiology program. Both programs are prospering. Beyond that, we’ve had a part in planting a new church and starting a weekly Bible study for university students.”

When he left Southern three years ago, Terry said he hoped to show students that Southern professors are doers was well as teachers. He had served previously as a missionary to the Philippines from 1975-1989, but he felt that God wanted to use him again in that area of the world.

“I hope this will demonstrate to the students that professors practice what they teach,” he said in 2005, “that we are doers of the Word and not teachers only. … Hopefully, all of the students, as they depart from the seminary to serve, will remain open to God’s leadership in their lives.”

Terry still stands by that statement and reminds students today that serving God on the mission field will require sacrifice. In addition to leaving family and friends in the United States, there are cultural adjustments to tackle in a new country, he said.

“We served in the Philippines for 14 years, so we know the Philippine culture very well,” he said. “In our new country we have had to adjust to a new culture and learn to drive on the left side of the road.”

In May, Terry will return to the Pacific Rim, and Martin will resume his duties at Southern. But in the meantime Terry plans to soak up all of the spiritual encouragement he can get from his time in Louisville.
Some of the routine aspects of seminary life have been special blessings, he said.

“The chapel services have been quite refreshing to me spiritually,” Terry said.

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