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Focus on Jesus, Rankin tells seminarians

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–“I pray that through them we will see Your power unleashed among the nations,” David Nelson prayed during the May 16 annual commissioning service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Nelson, senior vice president of academic administration and dean of the faculty at Southeastern, prayed for seminarians from the Wake Forest, N.C., campus venturing across the globe this summer and fall.

As faculty members crowded around the students at the front of Binkley Chapel, Nelson prayed for strength, encouragement and empowerment for each individual preparing to leave home for other regions.

Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, charged the 15 missionaries in Southeastern’s international church planting program, also called the “2+2/2+3” program, as well as those entering career appointments through the IMB or its International Service Corps and those in summer missions, to keep their eyes on Jesus. The 2+2/2+3 students, who work overseas as part of their seminary studies, will go to Virginia for further training and then to various regions of North Africa, the Middle East and other areas.

“Because Jesus is your mission, because Jesus is the message of your mission, because Jesus is the means of your mission, because Jesus is the majesty of your mission, so, as you go, keep your eyes on Jesus,” Rankin told the missionaries.

“You don’t go alone. There’s a great cloud of witnesses that have preceded you, that bear testimony of God’s faithfulness, that it’s worth the suffering and the sacrifice to endure and to run the race,” Rankin said. “You’re going to join a great host of colleagues, a cloud of witnesses that will bear testimony that it’s worth it all that a lost world might know Jesus.

“So, run with faithfulness and endurance that race,” Rankin exhorted, “but keep your eyes on Jesus. That’s what your mission is all about.”

Their mission, Rankin reminded, is not about themselves but about Jesus Christ and presenting Him to the nations.

“I want you to understand that the reason you’re going is to tell a lost world about Jesus Christ,” Rankin said. “You’re going to places where people have not heard the name of Jesus” — people who may be “sensitive to a spiritual need and separation from God in their lives.”

To the chapel audience, Rankin added, “No one is exempt from God’s global missions of taking the Gospel to the nations and peoples of the world.

“And, even as we commission these who go — yes, they’re the ones that are going — but this seminary community is a part of their going. And you, too, have a responsibility to go with them through your prayers and sustain them and empower them.”

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  • Joy Rancatore