Students expressed confidence in God, hope for future missions in Iraq

Communications Staff — March 20, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky.(BP)–As war commences in the Middle East, students at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are expressing confidence in God’s providence and hope for future missions efforts in Iraq.

In interviews following chapel services at the Louisville, Ky., seminary March 20, several students said they were praying with assurance that God would protect people in harm’s way and would expand His Kingdom through this crisis.

“My wife and I prayed last night for, of course, the safety of our troops over there [and for] the safety of the Iraqi people,” said Greg Gilbert, a master of divinity student from Linden, Texas. “Mostly, I think that I‘ll be praying that when this regime is toppled, that the country will be opened up to the Gospel. I would like to see missionaries flood in there and preach the Gospel to all those people.”

Many students watched the beginnings of American operations the night before. The sounds of explosions drove home the fragility of life and the urgency of the Gospel.

“I think the fact that it [the war] is so vivid makes you immediately think of the consequences,” said Dave Theobald, a master of divinity student from Hamilton, Ontario. “And as a Christian, I immediately think of their souls rather their lives. I‘m concerned about their lives, but I just hate the thought of people dying without knowing Christ.”

Yet, students are also confident that God is in control and that His will is being accomplished.

“The images were very sobering to see,” said Mark Schweitzer, a bachelor of arts student at Boyce College, Southern Seminary’s undergraduate institution. “… Holding a view of the sovereignty of God such as I hold, I have confidence that through His plan and according to His purposes He will bring about a good end to this.”

Students, however, do feel the apprehension and uncertainty accompanies war.

“I guess you have to be a little anxious about terrorist attacks here,” Gilbert said. “And, I hope Saddam Hussein doesn’t try to do anything unconventional over there–chemical or biological. But, I’m pretty confident.”

But, they said such uncertainty can be used by God for good.

“You know, times like this God uses,” Theobald said. “These people are more face to face with the reality of death. I‘m just praying that the Lord will use that to make people see the their need of Him and their own sin.”

Many students have friends and family involved in the conflict.

“I actually have [a friend] who’s over there,” said Kristin Sanford, a bachelor of science student at Boyce College. “He’s 19. And I‘m praying for him as a Christian that he’ll stand strong in his faith. And I‘m praying for all those who do not know the Lord, that this will be a time they would by the grace of God be humbled.”

Master of divinity student Kyle McDaniel has a brother-in-law who serves as a C-130 navigator in the United States Air Force. He doesn’t know where his relative is, and he is concerned for his safety.

“The American Air Force is amazingly superior,” said McDaniel, a Disputanta, Va., native. “But, you know, it doesn’t take superiority [to shoot someone down], it just takes a rocket hitting the wrong spot. But once again, ultimately, we don’t trust in our own strength.”

Indeed, God’s strength, sovereignty, and providence in war was a refrain echoed by each student. They each are praying that Americans and Iraqis will turn to this God in this time of crisis.

“I just trust that the president knows what he’s doing,” McDaniel said. “But more than that, like we prayed in chapel today, this isn’t ultimately in the hands of the president.”

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