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FROM THE SEMINARIES: Gateway convocation; Incarcerated women earn degrees from The College at Southeastern

Iorg explores God’s call in semester’s first chapel message

By Tyler Sanders/Gateway

ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) – Gateway President Jeff Iorg launched the fall chapel series by speaking on the nature of God’s call to ministry leadership.

Iorg began by celebrating the school’s growth. Fall 2022 has seen the largest number of enrolled students at Gateway in more than 20 years. The credit hours enrolled is the largest since Fall 2006. The D.Min. program is at an all-time high with 282 current students.

“We celebrate the growth God is giving us and the strength we have recovered,” Iorg said, referring to both the campus relocation in 2016 and the recent complications caused by the pandemic.

Then he introduced the theme of Gateway’s fall chapel series on David. Chapel speakers are scheduled to preach through key moments in David’s life in 1 Samuel.

“We are trying to answer this question: ‘How did God form a leader from call to commission?’” Iorg said.

“My task this morning is just the first message, and that is God’s call.” 

Iorg said one reason people misunderstand the concept of ‘God’s call’ is the lack of a “specific definition.” He defined it as “a profound impression from God that establishes parameters for your life and can only be altered by a subsequent superseding impression from God.”

It is a definition Iorg developed over years of study and published more than 15 years ago in his book, Is God Calling Me? Iorg further described three elements of this definition in greater detail.

First, Iorg contrasted the “profound impression” of a calling experience with other words like leading, guiding, directing or prompting. “I sometimes say it this way: After all the analysis is done, you ultimately say, ‘I am called because I know it in my heart.’”

Second, a calling establishes parameters in a person’s life. “For example,” he said, “a called person can only consider a marital partner who has a similar call to ministry leadership.”

Third, Iorg said a calling is permanent, “until God calls again.”

“In other words, when you’re called, you stay called.”

Iorg then outlined three types of ministry callings Christians experience.

“One of the most common questions I’m asked is, ‘Are all Christians called?’ and the answer is “Yes, but…’” he said. 

“Yes, all Christians are called to serve and to grow, so in that sense, all Christians are called.”

Iorg cited Ephesians 4:1-3, “walk worthy of the calling you have received,” and Peter 1:15, “Be holy as you are called to be holy,” as biblical examples of a general calling, to all believers, to service and growth. Iorg said the majority of Christians answer this call with a secular career that is an avenue for Christian service and growth.

“We need to learn, as ministry leaders, to teach and celebrate this calling,” Iorg said.

The second type of calling is a general call to ministry leadership, Iorg said. He warned this type of calling is often given confusing colloquialisms, like a ‘calling to vocational service’ or ‘full-time Christian service.’ 

“Those descriptions only work in the southern United States or other churched cultures.”

“Most people in the world who have experienced a call to ministry leadership don’t get a salary, have medical insurance, or a retirement plan,” Iorg said. He emphasized a global understanding of calling means it has to be applicable in every culture and context. “This means we define calling by a responsibility we assume, not a vocation we practice.”

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SEBTS celebrates five graduates at Wake County extension center

By Chad Burchett/SEBTS

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (BP) – The College at Southeastern held its inaugural commencement for the Wake County Extension Center (WCEC) educational program, celebrating the accomplishments of five incarcerated women who graduated with an associate of arts degree.

“To be where we are today, celebrating the conferral of these five associate degrees, is nothing short of miraculous,” said Seth Bible, director of Prison Programs and assistant professor of ethics and the history of ideas at The College at Southeastern. Reflecting on the graduates’ journeys, Bible reminded them and other attendees that the success of the program and the accomplishments of the graduates is owed to the faithfulness and providential kindness of God.

“Starting an educational program in the middle of a pandemic would be difficult anywhere, but it is immeasurably harder in an incarcerated context,” Bible said during the Aug. 22 ceremony. “God has faithfully sustained these efforts and consistently opened seemingly impossible doors. In many ways, the most important thing that we have done over the past two-and-a-half years is simply walk the path that God has placed in front of us.” 

In partnership with the Department of Public Safety and the Sunshine Lady Foundation, The College launched its educational program at WCEC in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was designed to provide a quality liberal arts education rooted in a Christian foundation. 

“It was a good day when God opened the door for you to become a part of the Southeastern family,” President Danny Akin said to the graduates. “Know that you will always be a part of the Southeastern family. Our faculty knows you are graduating today, and I can assure you they too are praying for you. They are thrilled now to call you graduates and alumni of The College at Southeastern.” 

Encouraging the graduates and attendees with a charge from Hebrews 12:1-2, Akin reminded students that the Christian life is a race to be endured and completed in Jesus’s strength: “What I have learned in my 55 years as a follower of Jesus is that when we are running the race and can hardly take another step, Jesus comes right alongside of us, picks us up, and carries us. We do not run the race in our strength. We run the race in His.” 

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