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Agriculture class sprouts at seminary

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Aiming to grow opportunities to share the Gospel in the developing world, agricultural principles were taught in addition to the usual theology and church history classes this fall at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Professionals from Bayer CropScience donated their time and expertise to teach a six-week course in the basics of agriculture so that students at the North Carolina seminary and members of local churches could be certified to work in developing countries around the world. According to the Bayer CropScience website, the multi-billion-dollar company specializes in crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology.

Herb Young, a marketing production manager at Bayer, first began to pursue the idea of agriculture classes at Southeastern after conversations with several students. As part of a small group at The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., Young realized there was a need for training that would open doors for believers to share the Gospel in restricted-access countries.

After being approached by three separate students asking for his expertise on the subject of agriculture, Young recognized the opening the Lord was giving him to make an impact among the nations. “It was a clear message that the Lord would like me to pursue this,” he said.

Young spoke with Bayer colleagues Phil Gibson, Nick Hammon, Paul Hewitt and Randy Myers and together they developed a syllabus and schedule for the class. They approached Scott Hildreth of Southeastern’s Center for Great Commission Studies about hosting the sessions on the campus in Wake Forest.

“The students wanted further training to help them develop a platform as they go overseas,” Hildreth said. “Herb had experience helping some guys with agriculture overseas, helping them transition from teaching English as a Second Language to agricultural classes, so he thought he could help them with some kind of training that will give them a reason to be where they’ll live.”

A global need for increased knowledge of crops and agriculture led Bayer CropScience to support the Southeastern class, Young said.

“Bayer has a strategic concern for the projected 9.2 billion global population estimates for 2050. In the next 40 years, food production is projected to need to increase by 70 percent in order to satisfy increased numbers and increased standards of living,” Young said. “Through seed technology and crop protection, Bayer has a strong conviction to be a part of the solution for this coming global dilemma.”

Hewitt, who taught on soil fertility, said, “We are humbled to help in this very small way to contribute anything that might enable the spread of the Gospel.”

Plans for similar classes already are in the works. In addition to agricultural classes, Hildreth said they also are working on classes on business and rural medicine.

Anything that might be used to enable students to share the message of Christ is a possibility for a platform, Hildreth said.

“Take these ideas around the world and use it for the sake of the Gospel,” he said.
Reported by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s communications office.

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