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Longtime mission professor honored during ‘Cal Guy day’

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–For more than 50 years, Cal Guy ministered as a cutting-edge missions professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Criswell College and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He taught mission theory and practice to one of every two missionaries appointed by the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.

But he wasn’t always popular among missionary leaders.

Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson led the seminary community in honoring Guy, 87, during a special “Cal Guy Day” chapel Sept. 28. The chapel service was held in conjunction with Global Missions Week on the seminary’s Fort Worth, Texas campus.

Patterson presented Guy — who served at the seminary from 1946-82 with gifts in recognition of the retired professor’s many years of service to Southern Baptists and his contributions to missiology. The gifts included a book containing dozens of letters written to Guy expressing thanksgiving, and a quilt composed of pictures of Guy and his wife, Terrye.

“This is Dr. Cal Guy,” Patterson said as he introduced Guy. “The greatest missions professor in the world.”

Guy recently returned from his eighth trip to Bangladesh in the past three decades.

“They invited me to come out there in 1975 to work that William Carey started 182 years before,” Guy said in a recent interview. “They had 15 churches after 182 years and 14 of them were dead, only baptizing five or six of their children a year.”

Guy believed that missionaries were too “westernized, institutionalized, building-ized, and subsidized” in their approach to missions. He helped Bengali Baptists change their missionary methods to focus more on sharing the Gospel through a pamphlet called “The Man Who Gave His Life,” a composite Gospel written in Bengali.

The result was an explosion of churches in the area.

“Just based on using the Gospels, it went from 15 dead churches to 600 infinitely reproducible ones,” Guy said, adding that his latest trip to Bangladesh included a pastors’ conference with 454 “home-grown” pastors, evidence of the growth of Christianity among the Bengali.

“I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” Guy said as he took the podium during the special chapel service. “Thirty-two years here were God’s gift to a country preacher from Tennessee. And to stand here and remember how many people I have seen answer God’s call to go … they have transformed not only local places but many places around the world.”

Special guests at the chapel included Guy’s son and daughter and many friends and former students. One of those former students was chapel speaker Al Jackson, who serves as senior pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.

“Dr. Guy, you are a modern-day Luther in Southern Baptist mission strategy,” Jackson said. “You thought outside the box, you challenged the status quo, you rattled the cage and you had courage to stand — at times alone — when it seemed your ideas were not being embraced. God in his providence has seen fit to allow you to live these 87 years to see your ideas and your strategies in place in our Southern Baptist mission life.”

Jackson’s sermon was on Luke 9:57-62 and titled “The High Cost of Following Jesus.” Reminding seminarians that God’s call to reach the nations was never accompanied by a promise of personal safety, Jackson said that the radical reality of following Jesus is that it is counter-cultural.

“Part of the cost of following Jesus is that you must be willing to give up your comfortable lifestyle,” he said.

“Southern Baptists are all proud of the record Lottie Moon Christmas Offering last year,” Jackson said. “But there are 16 million of us. If I do the math just right: 16 million Southern Baptists giving $136 million to win the world to Jesus in a year comes to just two Big Macs, two Fries and three Cokes per Baptist per year. Some people are doing extraordinary, but some are doing little or nothing…. We can do so much more to release the resources in our pocketbooks.”

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  • Brent Thompson