SBTS students take God’s Word to Muslim-dominated region

Communications Staff — September 19, 2008

It is difficult for Christians in America to imagine a geographical area populated by 70 million persons that includes only 3,000 followers of Christ, but this summer a group of students from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary spent two weeks spreading the Gospel in just such a place.

In early June, 10 students and one seminary wife accompanied Shawn Wright and his 14-year-old son Benjamin, to Central Asia, where they distributed native-tongue New Testaments and copies of the Jesus Film and encouraged workers already laboring there on behalf of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Wright, who serves as assistant professor of church history at Southern, has made numerous mission trips to Central Asia, a region that is more than 99 percent Muslim.

“It is a very difficult area in which to do missions work,” Wright said. “There are no more than a handful of church buildings in the whole country, because if you build a building you are asking for trouble. Given that context, there is not a lot of church support, so it’s tough.”

Perhaps the most unusual feature of this short-term visit to Central Asia was the opportunity the group had to attend a mosque during Friday noon prayer. Wright said the fervency of the Muslims for Allah was overwhelming.

“It was eye-opening,” Wright said. “This mosque had between 5,000 and 6,000 men, so there were more people worshiping there at that moment than there are believers in the entire country.

“For several of us, it was a shock, but a very good shock, because as you watch these very devout people, it forces you to ask yourself, ‘How do I know that what I believe is right?’ It was a great time for me to reflect upon the Gospel and its truthfulness and fullness while I was watching these people who are deceived. It is also very sad.”

The group distributed 50 copies of the New Testament and the Jesus Video and had numerous Gospel conversations with the natives, Wright said, many of whom do not even understand their own Muslim faith.

Joshua Greever, a master of divinity student from Shawnee, Okla., said the summer trip changed his prayer life profoundly; it served as a stark reminder of the lostness of the entire planet and the need for God’s grace to work across the globe. Greever said he and his wife are considering returning to Central Asia as missionaries after seminary.

“This trip reminded me that God’s purposes and passions are global; as a result, my prayers have become more global in nature” Greever said. “For instance, it was evident to us that God’s name is not being hallowed in (Central Asia); as a result my prayers for the hallowing of God’s name and the coming of his kingdom have been lifted up with (Central Asia) in mind.”

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