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FROM THE SEMINARIES: MBTS panel on identity, pornography; SWBTS Global Missions Week

MBTS holds panel on human identity, pornography

By Brett Fredenberg

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – In a special chapel service, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a panel on the topic of human identity and pornography. President Jason Allen led the conversation, which featured the president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Denny Burk, alongside four Midwestern Seminary professors – J. Alan Branch, Jared C. Wilson, and T. Dale Johnson.

Framing the conversation, Allen said, “We want to have this conversation in an encouraging way – to spur others on to godliness, but also in a redemptive way – understanding that virtually every person has had an encounter with pornography, whether they wanted to or not.”

The prevalence of pornography

Panelists began by considering the statistics and the ever-increasing temptation of pornography in modern society, focusing on two dates in particular. As Burk said, more than 50 percent of American households began to have broadband internet in 2007, and more than 50 percent of American households had smartphones in 2013. These changes radically accelerated pornography use.

Elaborating on the prevalence of pornography today, Branch shared four points that combine to make these temptations “deadly”: its availability, affordability, anonymity and addictive nature.

Johnson went on to discuss how this growth is not only among both genders, but also how it has created a greater sense of freedom for confession in counseling situations.

Read the full story here.

To watch the panel, visit Midwestern Seminary: A Panel Discussion on Human Identity and Pornography.

SWBTS students have ‘Breakfast with a Missionary’

By Ashley Allen

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – During “Breakfast with a Missionary,” a come-and-go event held Sept. 7 as part of the weeklong Global Missions Week on the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary campus, Catherine Walker* learned what keeps missionaries on the field.

Through interactions with missionaries who serve with the International Mission Board, Walker, a Master of Divinity student with a concentration in international church planting who is originally from Fort Worth, said a missionary who serves in Sub-Saharan Africa told the collection of students gathered at his table, “It’s really the calling that keeps them there long term.”

The event was one of several opportunities organized by the seminary’s World Missions Center to encourage students in their mission callings while educating others about the need for a Gospel witness around the world. Ian Buntain, director of the WMC, said Breakfast with a Missionary was planned with the intention “for students to just spend one segment, one slice of life, with ordinary people, just like they are who God has called away to other places.”

Buntain was raised in Canada and served with the IMB and the North American Mission Board for more than four decades. He said some students were not unlike him as he grew up in a “pioneer area” that never had a missionary visit their church. He explained students had the opportunity to learn from missionaries who were “sent by a church of 35” people to engage the nations with the Gospel.

Terry Wilbanks, an IMB missionary who serves in Birmingham, England, said it is “important to provide opportunities for students who are investigating God’s call, whether it’s here or overseas missions, whatever missions looks like, for them to be able to talk to someone who’s actually doing it.”

Wilbanks earned a Master of Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern in 1998 and has served with the IMB for over 22 years among the European peoples in countries including Scotland, France, and England.

The opportunity to talk to IMB missionaries is not unlike an experience Wilbanks had when he was a student at Southwestern and was able to learn from missionaries and “the impact they had” on him and his calling.

“For many of these students, they’ve heard about missions, some of them have gone on short missions, but may be thinking, ‘Okay, what does it actually look like?’” Wilbanks explained. He added talking with students provides a “perspective of what Europe is like and sometimes their perspective of Europe isn’t exactly what people think it is.”

Wilbanks said that “England is a hard place” as “people don’t last as field personnel in Western Europe.” He noted that “many Europeans believe that they are beyond religion or beyond Christianity” and it is “like a post-Christian climate.”

The conversations Wilbanks had with students included “being prepared” both educationally and spiritually. He said among the students they spoke about “spiritual disciplines that are important,” including “being in God’s Word,” Scripture memory, silence and solitude, and sabbath rest.

Part of Wilbanks’s ministry in England includes ministry among university students and in secondary schools. He said talking with students at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels of study was “refreshing” due to “how excited they are about the idea of God and being known throughout the nations.”

Walker said that she “really love[s] getting to talk to missionaries from around the world.”

“It’s really encouraging to me because it’s something that I want to do and so I get to ask them questions that I might have, and just learn from their personal experience So that when I go, I kind of know what to expect,” Walker concluded.

*Name changed for security.

During Global Missions Week, more than a dozen SWBTS alumni who now serve on the mission field returned to the seminary. Students also heard from Jerry Rankin, Zane Pratt and enjoyed foods from around the world.

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