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SBC leaders build Kingdom relationships in Germany

BONN, Germany (BP)–At the invitation of Russian-speaking German Baptists, Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Craig Blaising, Southwestern’s provost and executive vice president, attended the annual Bibelseminar Bonn Conference on evangelism and missions.

Meetings were divided among local churches and the Bonn Bibelseminar campus; the seminary’s convocation included 62 new students, a doubling of enrollment in a year’s time. The visit also included opportunities for preaching.

Chapman spoke to a congregation of more than 1,000 people in Cologne on Oct. 1, Germany’s annual Thanksgiving holiday. Patterson, Blaising and SWBTS professor John Mark Yeats spoke to similar congregations in other churches throughout Germany.

Blaising noted the incredibly large number of German youth in attendance at the services. Chapman, who was accompanied by his wife Jodi, also commented on the spiritual vitality they found there.

“Nothing is more apparent than that God is doing an amazing work in Germany,” Chapman said. “We as Southern Baptists are fortunate to be included in this movement.”

Patterson noted that the American visitors also were fortunate to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving twice in 2006. His wife Dorothy, who traveled with the group, agreed.

“I am especially delighted with the harvest they beautifully portrayed in fresh flowers, fruits, and vegetables that were included in arrangements throughout the churches,” she said, “as well as with the many rows of perfectly behaved children sitting at the front of the auditorium without parental supervision.”

More than 75 pastors from across Germany attended a Bibelseminar-sponsored conference at which they shared with one another concerning their various ministries and then listened to Chapman explain the way Southern Baptists cooperate in their missionary outreach around the world.

When asked about Southern Baptists and the Baptist World Alliance, Chapman noted that Southern Baptists pray every success for the BWA, adding the SBC desires to represent itself to the world rather than being represented by another organization.

“We withdrew from an organization but not from the world of Baptists,” he said. “We are excited about the opportunity of building strong relationships with new friends around the globe who are likeminded conservative evangelicals.”

The SBC withdrew from the BWA in 2004 after an SBC study committee concluded the BWA leadership and some member bodies were leftward leaning and unwilling to remedy SBC leaders’ concerns.

The SBC contingent expressed gratitude to God for the urgency and fervor that the Bibelseminar Bonn has for reaching Germany and beyond for Christ. The U.S. group commented that the spirit at the Bibelseminar echoes the missionary and evangelistic spirit of Southern Baptists.

Heinrich Derksen, president of the Bibelseminar, had requested Chapman’s presentation to encourage more cooperation in missionary enterprises among Russian-speaking German evangelical churches. Blaising taught classes for the Bibelseminar student body, including the students in the master’s program co-sponsored by the Bibelseminar and Southwestern Seminary.

Chapman preached the convocation sermon attended by students, faculty, friends and family members and challenged the students to follow God’s will throughout their lives. Speaking from Revelation 3:7-12, he encouraged them to walk through the doors God opens because no man can shut them. He also counseled them to walk humbly before the Lord and pursue life for God’s glory, not their own.

Patterson addressed the seminary chapel, advising students to arm themselves against the attacks of Satan. Using Revelation 12:11 as a text, he identified the effective weapons for defeating Satan as the blood of the Lamb and the word of one’s testimony, and encouraged the students to use these unconventional but overwhelmingly powerful weapons to triumph over the devil.

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