INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Paul Negrut, president of Emmanuel University in Oradea, Romania, and the featured speaker at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s alumni luncheon, is quite familiar with persecution.
Negrut was born in 1953 in Romania to a Christian family. “My family lost all to communism,” Negrut said. “We were so poor that the first time I saw butter I was 16. We did not have bread for three years.”
Negrut challenged the MBTS luncheon audience June 16 to be genuine in the faith. To illustrate his point, he recalled an episode from his childhood when his father saved all he had to buy an alarm clock. Displayed in the kitchen, the clock’s ticking fascinated young Negrut. As is the case with most boys, Negrut became curious as to what made the clock work. After several attempts to open it, Negrut said he threw the clock to the floor. “It opened,” he mused.
The clock also stopped ticking. His attempts to put the clock together failed. When his father discovered the clock was broken, Negrut said he “practiced discipline.”
Comparing this experience to Christianity, Negrut said many people outside the faith want to know “what makes us work.” He added that this curiosity may lead to persecution. “The world will throw, squeeze and hit us to see what’s inside. If there’s nothing inside us, we fail. That something inside us must be Jesus,” he said.
During the luncheon, Midwestern honored Clyde Meador, executive vice president of the International Mission Board, and James H. Wells, director of missions for Tri-County Baptist Association in Missouri, with Alumnus of the Year awards.
Honorary Alumni of the Year awards were presented to Max Barnett, retired director of the University of Oklahoma Baptist Student Union; Gene Downing, current Midwestern trustee and his wife, Jo; and Charles S. Kelley Sr., a former Midwestern trustee, and his wife, Doris.
Family friend Harry Watson accepted the honor for Charles & Doris Kelley, who were unable to attend the event due to poor health. Accepting on behalf of Gene & Jo Downing, who were also unable to attend, was a longtime pastor friend, Doug Melton.
The outgoing national alumni president, Robert T. Mills (D.Min. ’80), director of missions mobilization for Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, also was honored during the luncheon. Mills passed the gavel to the incoming president, Russell G. Shinnpoch (M.Div. ’80), pastor of First Baptist Church in Snellville, Ga.