Large number of students commissioned for summer missions highlights annual Great Commission Week

Communications Staff — April 26, 2007

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary commissioned one of its largest groups of students to serve on summer missions trips during the school’s annual Great Commission Week, April 16-20.

Southern commissioned 118 students for service across the globe this summer and commissioned 140 students during the 2006-2007 academic year, said Chuck Lawless, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth.

We commissioned more students this year than in years past and there are several factors,” said Lawless.

“There are more incoming students who interested in missions in general; more incoming students who come to Southern Seminary and the Billy Graham School because of our commitment to missions; more faculty members taking an interest in missions and then leading trips; more Southern graduates on the field who invite our assistance; stronger Great Commission weeks: for example, we had Southern graduates on stateside assignment here during this Great Commission Week.”

The seminary devoted two chapel services to missions and sponsored numerous other missions-related events including a day of focused prayer for the persecuted church.

“We are committed to preparing students to do the Great Commission, and that preparation includes both classroom and on-the-field experience,” Lawless said. “My prayer is that every Southern Seminary student would take at least one mission trip during his or her time on our campus.”

David Sitton, founder of To Every Tribes Ministries and a missionary to Papua New Guinea, spoke in chapel on April 17. Sitton prayed that God would call out those who are willing to lay down their lives to proclaim the Gospel to dangerous, unreached people groups.

“We are praying that you will be dislodged, that you will become released from lesser commitments, that you will become dissatisfied with priorities, that God will help us to rearrange our priorities around the Great Commission, and that many of you will be compelled by the Spirit to redeploy to the front line,” he said.

Preaching from Luke 10:1-3, Sitton said missionaries are to serve as lambs who are willing to be slaughtered by wolves for the spread of the Gospel. Sitton said missionaries from the West, because of their affluent cultural background, are often the first to flee from the field when danger arises. Flight from life-threatening Gospel work is contrary to the words of Christ in the New Testament, he said.

“We need new missionaries who are willing to die for Christ and the Gospel. We need lambs who are not afraid of wolves.”

Darrell Cook, a missionary serving in Johannesburg, South Africa, with Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board, told chapel attendees April 19 that some Christians need to consider serving God as missionaries rather than limiting their missions activities to giving and praying.

“We need to give,” he said. “We need to pray. Many of you are pastors, and you need to preach about missions. But for some of us it might mean going.”

Cook recounted how God called him into foreign missions when he was over 60 years old. Those considering missions do not need to determine what God wants them to do long-term but must simply obey the commands God gives in the present, he said.

“The Lord doesn’t have to tell us what we’ll be doing down the road,” he said. “But He’s usually very clear on what He wants us to do today. Let me encourage you that whatever He’s telling you today, you do that. Tomorrow He will give your marching orders for the next assignment.”

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