WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Five years after pioneering the first international church planting program by a Southern Baptist school, Southeastern Seminary has broken new ground, once more, in its global evangelism effort as construction gets underway on a 21,200 square-foot global evangelism training center scheduled for completion by March 2001.
Members of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors participated in a Ground Breaking Ceremony March 14 as school administrators, faculty, staff, students, town council members, and other visitors dedicated the construction of the building for the purpose of reaching the world with the Gospel.
When built, the two-story facility will be equipped with state-of-the art communication and information technology. Satellite communication capabilities will enable seminary students and mission teams from churches to communicate with missionaries overseas through a live video transmission projected on a 40-foot by 40-foot screen located in a multi-media auditorium with seating for up to 115 people.
Keith Eitel, professor of Christian missions and director of Southeastern’s Center for Great Commission Studies that will be housed in the new missions center, said the building will serve as an educational and equipping conduit for missions mobilization and evangelism.
“Here on campus, part of what we try to do is create a visionary atmosphere,” Eitel said. “We want to set an atmosphere where missions becomes the air we breathe. It’s vital to our life existence at this seminary. And for that to be nailed down as a permanent atmospheric condition, will show definitively what is at our heartbeat: to engage in The Great Commission and to make a major contribution to the development of global evangelism.”
Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern and the Southern Baptist Convention, said the sole purpose of the world missions training center will be focused on “getting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world in this generation.”
Patterson said he hoped each brick would represent at least one thousand people who would “come to know Christ as Savior through the witness of those who have trained in this building.” “[May this building] forever be known as that place where people come and pray and prepare to reach the nations of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Patterson said.
The facility, which is being built beside the newly remodeled Stephens-Mackie Hall, is designed to include a cupola, or domed roof, on the top of the building out of which a light will shine 24 hours a day — visible from all sides of the building as a symbol of Christ’s identity as the “Light of the World.”
Patterson said the new building should not go unnoticed by the community off campus. “You will see the Light of the World to all the nations right here and that will be a focal point,” Patterson said.
Inside the new missions and evangelism training center, visitors will have at their fingertips the history of the modern missions movement spawned by spiritual awakenings of centuries past. Computerized interactive displays will provide information on the history of global evangelism as well as the latest demographic information on people groups in regions of the world that remain unreached by the Gospel.
Visitors will be able to access strategic information for reaching a region with the Gospel by simply touching an area on a computer-generated, three-dimensional, holographic globe.
The new missions center will also house a map room providing access to the latest information on the status of world evangelization through the tracking of new church starts all over the globe. To date, Southeastern’s Churches in Habitat program has accumulated nearly 90 percent of the world’s population church data.
The center will house office space for the seminary’s missions and evangelism faculty as well as an Islamic Study Center. The seminary’s North American and international church planting programs will be headquartered in the building as well.
Jimmy Jacumin, a member of Southeastern’s Board of Trustees, said the new global evangelism training center should help open the doors to the more than 50 countries currently closed to the Bible distributing ministry he’s involved in through the Gideons, an international Bible distribution ministry.
Jacumin said future missionaries who come through the new training center will be equipped to lead those unreached people groups to salvation by faith in Christ. “My wife and I … have never had a greater honor and a greater blessing than to be a part of this building,” he said.
Contractor John Prince, Jr., part-owner of Steel Dynamics, the Raleigh, N.C., company building the world missions training center, said the eternal impact of this building makes the investment worthwhile. “My hope is that one day in Heaven someone will walk up to me and say ‘I was better prepared for God’s calling on my life because of Southeastern Seminary and what I learned in the Great Commission building.'”
Gerald Stephens, a member of Southeastern’s Board of Visitors, said construction of the new building marks a new beginning in the life of the seminary.
“Those individuals who will come to Christ because of what we set in motion today … we’ll know when we get to Heaven,” Stephens said. “What we do here represents a beginning. Much remains to be done.”