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Iorg sees himself as a product of God’s grace

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Jeff Iorg, speaking during his first chapel service as president-elect of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary April 28, relayed his desire to develop a relationship with the students, faculty, staff and trustees.

During the hour-long service, Iorg said leadership was an “influence relationship,” and in order to “begin to establish a relationship with one another,” he shared his testimony with the audience.

Iorg told about his turbulent upbringing. His life began with an alcoholic father, whom he and his mother fled when he was three years old. He was then raised by a stepfather who also struggled with alcoholism.

At the age of 12, Iorg had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ at a church booth set up at a regional fair in Texas.

“Something inside of me said, ‘This is it, Jeff. This is what you are missing in your life,'” he said. From that point on, Iorg felt God’s grace and hand in his life.

“Overarching my life is an umbrella of God’s grace,” Iorg said. “There is no other explanation how a boy born in Georgia to a father he has never seen or known, have his name changed by a mother who went into hiding, be reared in another alcoholic home, have no connection to God or the Gospel except a Baptist church that went to the fair. There is no explanation to how that person can become a seminary president except by the overwhelming, matchless, powerful grace of God,” Iorg told the audience.

Throughout these early, unstable years of life, Iorg found his stability in two areas. One was his “committing my life to Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord,” Iorg said.

“Nothing else, like what happened to me at the fair that day, has impacted me more than that one singular choice. That choice gave me a new identity and allowed me to be a ‘new creation’ in Jesus. He erased all the stigma of my old identity and gave me a new identity — His son, His child, His brother. Jesus Christ made me a new creation.

“The second area I found stability was by committing my life to a Baptist church. It was at Elmcrest Baptist Church that men taught me how to be a man, taught me how to love a spouse and how to be a father to children and taught me how to relate in family. For 10 years that church made a difference in my life,” he said.

Also at the chapel service, Iorg shared four of his passions that he believes will affect the seminary. Iorg’s first passion is “getting the Gospel to every single person in the world. What drives me at the core is not a political movement, is not a position of authority, not a prestige that comes from the presidency. What drives me is people coming to Christ.

“I want the Gospel to be for everyone. I want the Gospel to go the county fair, I want it to go to race tracks, I want it to go to bars, I want it to go to ranches in Colorado and reservations in Arizona, I want it to go to loggers in the Northwest, and I want it to go all around the Pacific Rim and around the world. I want every little boy like I was and every other person to hear the Gospel,” Iorg said.

The second passion Iorg shared was that of his family.

“My family legacy is a checkered past,” he said. “When my wife and I got married, one of the vows I asked her to make to me was to join me in staking our life on building a new legacy of the Iorg name so that our name would have the legacy of Christ attached to it and that at two or three generations from now, our children would talk about their great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather and what he stood for in Christ and how that has rolled down through the generations.”

The third passion Iorg highlighted was the church.

“There is no other institution or organization in the world today that is the hope of the world like the church. We have to start them, restart them, build them, and we have to learn to manage and lead them. But the church is the investment organization for the future for every one of our lives,” he said. “When the chips are down — and you will come to a point in your life when the chips will be down — you will be fortunate and blessed if you have a Baptist church you can turn to for help.”

The fourth area that Iorg shared was a compassion for people who need to change.

“The world we live in does not need our condemnation, it needs the compassion of Christ demonstrated from Christians,” he said.

Iorg concluded the chapel service by repeating his desire to develop a relationship with those in attendance.

“Hopefully today I have been transparent enough that you have seen a little bit into my soul and you know a little bit more about the person I am,” he said.

A transcript of Iorg’s chapel address is available at www.ggbts.edu.

Golden Gate Seminary is a Cooperative Program Ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and operates five campuses in Northern California, Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: IF NOT FOR GRACE, TRANSPARENCY and JEFF AND ANN IORG.

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  • Jeff Jones