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SBC DIGEST: Southeastern begins Persian leadership program; 2nd West Tennessee evangelism rally March 5

Southeastern begins Persian leadership program

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is creating a unique program to provide Persian church leaders with accredited theological education in their own language through its Global Theological Initiatives.

Kambiz Saghaey, a Persian church leader and SEBTS master’s degree student, is leading the program as coordinator for Persian leadership development. Originally from the Middle East, Saghaey and his wife served in several churches and faced persecution for their faith. Now in the United States, the couple desires to continue to help the Persian church grow stronger and deeper.

Saghaey began taking online SEBTS classes while in the Middle East and continued later in Central Asia after fleeing persecution in his country. He dreamed of a program that would help more Persian church leaders receive sound, readily accessible theological training.

“For many years when I was pastoring I was praying for God to please bring someone to SEBTS to make a program in Farsi. The English was very difficult for me,” Saghaey recounted. “Many pastors came to my mind, but I didn’t know that God was going to answer my prayer with me.”

Saghaey’s role is to develop the initiative to train Farsi speakers who can then use the theological knowledge they gain to enrich Persian churches. With his firsthand experience and knowledge of the Persian culture, Saghaey can provide Persian believers with programs that answer their needs.

John Ewart, SEBTS associate vice president for Global Theological Initiatives, said, “It has been very exciting to work alongside Kambiz. His experience and his relationships with those engaged in equipping Farsi-speaking church leaders will enable us to impact this significant language group.”

Ewart added that the seminary is “networking with others involved in training and contextually developing fully accredited academic work in this historic initiative.”

Saghaey is excited about the possibilities “to see Persians receive their degrees and teach others. I believe Farsi-speakers can have a direct, very useful influence in many cultures around them. Education is a priority for this.”


Gaines to headline 2nd West Tennessee Evangelism Rally

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines will be the keynote speaker at the second annual West Tennessee Evangelism Rally March 5 at Union University in Jackson.

Ernest Easley, professor of evangelism at Union, said last year’s rally was more successful than anticipated, with more than 800 people attending — evidencing a clear need for such an event.

“All you have to do is look at the churches across West Tennessee and beyond to realize an event like this is essential right now,” Easley said, citing declines in baptisms at many churches.

“We have an opportunity here at Union to encourage, to equip, to inspire our church leaders and church members to get back to this issue of getting the Gospel to people.”

Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church, will speak at the rally’s two worship gatherings. Attendees at this year’s rally will attend two breakout sessions, with new topics this year including a panel discussion on how business men and women can share their faith in the workplace, and how parents can lead their children to Christ.

Other breakout session will include how to create a culture of missions/evangelism in churches, how to develop effective evangelistic messages, how to build evangelistic student and children’s ministries, how prayer and evangelism work together and how to share the Gospel with Muslims.

The rally will begin at 3:30 p.m. March 5, with dinner provided. More information, including online registration, is available at www.uu.edu/events/wter. Registration is free but the deadline is Feb. 24.

The event is sponsored by Union University and the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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