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SBC DIGEST: SWBTS convocation; Afghan girl points others to Jesus

SWBTS convocation is first chapel service since March 2020

By Katie Coleman

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – “I cannot stress strongly enough how much I have looked forward to this day,” President Adam W. Greenway said during Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s convocation service Wednesday (Jan. 27) in MacGorman Chapel on the school’s Fort Worth campus. It was the first chapel gathering of the seminary community in nearly a year.

“We have not had on-campus chapel services since March 2020, which is probably the longest gap in our institutional history from having a time to come together as a worshiping community,” Greenway said. “It is good to be together.”

Due to COVID-19, Southwestern Seminary canceled on-campus gatherings from March until December when commencement was held, although in-person instruction resumed in August. With precautions such as face masks and socially distanced seating observed, the convocation service was the first of the seminary’s resumed weekly chapel services for the spring 2021 semester.

The service featured a message from Greenway to the seminary community as well as the recognition of newly elected and appointed faculty.

In his sermon on Acts 19, wherein the ministry of the apostle Paul and his companions encounters opposition, resulting in a riot in Ephesus, Greenway said, “We find ourselves in a season of life where there are a variety of storms happening all around us. There are tensions that seem to be ever-increasingly pronounced in our world today.”

As tensions run high over theological, political and sociological matters, Greenway said, Christians must not allow their loyalty to be to anything but Christ.

“If my first loyalty is as a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, or even an independent over my commitment to being a blood-bought, born-again, Spirit-filled child of God, something is desperately wrong,” Greenway said. “No political party, no political agenda, no political goal will ever usher in the Kingdom of God.

“The flag that reigns supreme over us must be the banner of Christ.”

Greenway urged Southwesterners to resist the temptation to simply react, but to instead follow the lead of Paul and his companions in Acts 19 – to trust God and His will and remain committed to the pursuit of inviting people to respond to the Gospel and encounter Jesus.

“We must not allow the enemy to distract us from the urgency of the fact that there are tens, hundreds of thousands, literally, around our world dying every day, going into a Christ-less eternity, while we continue to fixate and fight over things that ultimately do not matter in the grand scheme of eternity,” Greenway said. “We will never be the church triumphant if we are a people divided.”

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Afghan girl points other teens to Jesus

By Ella Lawler*

Amita* looks around the room and sees seven other Afghan teenage girls watching as she talks. She joyfully shares how God broke through her fear and doubt and led her to His kingdom of light.

Amita knows deep within that God has changed her life through the saving knowledge of Jesus, and her face lights up as she talks about her faith. Addressing these teenagers, she longs for them to experience the same joy and peace she has found.

She tells her story: how her family’s travels as refugees had been riddled with harrowing difficulties since leaving Afghanistan. Her father’s declining health added to her daily burden. Amita’s brother, a recent convert to Christianity, told her of a hope that went beyond this natural world. Struggling to understand, she found it difficult to believe. She was lonely, scared and tired.

Over the weeks, Amita thought about her brother’s words. Little by little light broke into her darkness and she soon started to think this must be true. Jesus must be reaching out for her. She talked with her brother again and asked how she, too, could follow Jesus.

Upon arriving in Europe, after watching God deliver her father not only from earthly death, but also eternal death, Amita and her family sought out a believing community. They were introduced to a group of Persian believers organized by IMB field workers and their local partners and started attending gatherings regularly.

During this time Amita realized she wanted something more. She wanted to grow. Her younger siblings needed to hear the truth, just as she had heard it from her brother.

As this desire grew in Amita’s heart, an IMB worker and a national partner also began praying that God would gather a group of Afghan teen girls, an often overlooked demographic in circles of new believers. As God answered this prayer, Amita agreed to invite other girls and bring her 14-year-old sister along.

Today Amita passionately shares what God has done for her. Never missing a meeting, she encourages girls who have not yet committed to follow Jesus to seek His Word and trust Him with their lives.

Amita is the true picture of salt and light in a dark place. Her testimony shows how Jesus pursues and personally cares for the lost. Eagerly she explains what she is learning in Scripture and challenges the other girls to follow.

*Name changed

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