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German evangelicals seek SBC ties

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Heinrich Derksen, president, chairman of the board and a professor at Bibelseminar in Bonn, Germany, addressed messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention June 12, saying he and other conservative evangelicals want to expand their network to include the Southern Baptist Convention.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, introduced Derksen as a “friend” and as one who “wants to see spiritual awakening come to all of Europe.”

“Heinrich understands the enabling power that Southern Baptists have that flows from our spirit of cooperation and cooperative missions,” Chapman said. “He has an interest in drawing together many of the German-Russian churches in Germany and beyond in a cooperative convention much like the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Derksen, a former pastor and editor of a religious journal, expressed gratitude to Chapman and the SBC.

“Our Russian-German Baptist churches are made up of Germans who have lived for several generations in Russia under great pressure and persecution, but finally have returned to Germany within the last 30 years,” Derksen explained.

“Since our return to Germany, we have established nearly 500 churches totaling more than 100,000 members. While all of your state conventions are bigger than that, we are the largest conservative evangelical group in Germany.

“God has placed us in the heart of Europe,” Derksen said, “and we desire to send God’s reformation and revival because today less than 2 percent of the population in Germany identify themselves as evangelical Christians. And many of them are not strong Bible believers.”

Referring to the Baptist World Alliance, Derksen said, “We have never belonged to the BWA, but we desire to network with likeminded Christians. We would like to establish a closer relationship with Southern Baptists because we feel that we share the same spirit and love for the lost people in our world.”

Derksen said he and the European Baptists for whom he spoke also share the Southern Baptist “view of God and His revelation … of lostness of men, and sufficiency of our Savior … of necessity for training men and women for the ministry of the Gospel.”

When introducing Derksen, Chapman said that he and Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, had worked with Derksen and “have come to love [Derksen’s] passion and desire to evangelize Germany and all of Europe.”

The work to which Chapman referred included the establishment of a Southwestern Seminary extension at Bibelseminar, where students, when they complete undergraduate coursework, may undertake graduate-level studies at the extension.

“Our churches and mission work benefit greatly from the ongoing partnership between the seminary in Bonn” and Southwestern Seminary, Derksen said.

“We are very thankful for Dr. Paige Patterson, who has the heart of an evangelist and the passion for Germany in his soul. He has worked hard to establish this partnership between these two institutions.”

Derksen also noted that contacts with missionaries of the SBC’s International Mission Board “are also great” and that he is “very thankful” to partner with IMB missionaries in Germany.

Noting that conservative evangelicals in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have withdrawn from the BWA in the last year, Derksen said they “are now also looking for new relationships.”

“Since we came from the eastern part of Europe, we have hearts longing to serve the Lord there,” he said.

“We would like to join hands with you so that we can accomplish together what we cannot do alone,” Derksen said. “We need your cooperation through missionaries who will work in closer relationship with us.

Derksen also appealed for cooperation in “supporting and advising our churches and our church planters … in connecting to a network of conservative, Bible-believing Christians, preachers and teachers.

“But most of all we need your cooperation in praying,” he said. “Your prayers will make a difference in Germany and in Europe.”

“Germany needs a revival,” Derksen said. “Would you join us as we labor to bring revival and reformation to the land of Luther and the first reformation?”

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  • Norm Miller