Seminarians celebrate missions partnership with African worship service

Communications Staff — September 10, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky.–Students and faculty at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently gathered for a traditional African worship service that included African praise music, testimonies from African students and Scripture readings in four different languages.

The worship service, led by African seminary students, took place Sept. 3 as part of Southern’s East Africa Missions Partnership Kickoff week. The partnership will involve Southern Seminary working with the East Africa region of the International Mission Board over the next three years in such tasks as leadership training for African pastors, evangelism and researching unreached people groups.

“This is a grand celebration, not only of our partnership with the Eastern Africa region, but also just a great time to worship and glorify God’s name together,” said Twyla Fagan, director of Great Commission Ministries at Southern Seminary.

Preaching from Acts 11:4-14, master of divinity student Patrick Whyte challenged Christians to cast aside cultural prejudices and obey God’s command to proclaim the Gospel in all nations.

“Evangelism is an international work,” said Whyte, a native of Nigeria. “It is a task that has been given to the church of Jesus Christ internationally. There is no one nation on the face of this earth, no matter how gifted, no matter how resourceful, no matter how hard-working, no matter how industrious they are, that has the capacity to fully evangelize the rest of the world.”

If Christians are to proclaim the Gospel to the world, there are three attitudes they must adopt, Whyte said. First, Christians must trust that God is providentially orchestrating their lives to fulfill the Great Commission.

“We must trust that God is providentially orchestrating events,” he said. “This partnership, this desire to go to East Africa, is not a mistake. It is not just one man conniving or orchestrating something somewhere and just excited about executing his own project. No my brethren, I tell you that in the very heart of God, God saw this [partnership] way before the foundation of the world.”

Second, Whyte said Christians must evaluate their own inhibitions about missions and evangelism. Especially in America, Christians can get caught up in materialism and feel reserved about missions opportunities that take them out of a comfortable routine, he said.

“Nothing can be hidden from God. So if you have a reservation tonight, I’m not asking you to be open to me. I’m asking you to be open to God. The psalmist writes, ‘Search me and know my heart.’ And now we pray that your sincere prayer tonight would be, ‘Lord search me and know my heart,’” Whyte said.

Third, Christians must be confident that the outcome of their missions endeavors will be a harvest of souls. Just as God allowed Peter to lead Cornelius to faith in Christ, said Whyte, God orchestrates opportunities for believers today to lead others to Christ.

“There is a Cornelius somewhere that God has prepared, and there’s a Peter somewhere that God has prepared,” Whyte said. “God has divinely orchestrated that you have a call and God has orchestrated that you have the message.”

Approximately 195 million people in eastern Africa are waiting to hear the Gospel, he said. “Is that reason for us to go? I will let you think about it.”

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