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Southeastern Seminary degree motivated by ‘agape’ love

ISTANBUL, Turkey (BP)–More than 30 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary 2 Plus 2 student families gathered for two weeks of modular classes designed to equip them in their evangelism efforts across the Middle East and Central Asia.

Despite the precarious nature of world events surrounding the Middle East region, Southeastern President Paige Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, were among the professors who traveled to encourage the student workers in their tasks of offering physical and spiritual help.

“This journey has not only been a journey to renew relationships and visit with my Palestinian brother and his family in Amman (Jordan) but also to work with the students, assisting them in their labor of love any way possible,” Patterson said.

The Pattersons spent two weeks in Amman visiting other seminary 2 Plus 2 students and reported that they are “exceedingly proud of our students who are literally scattered all over the world.”

Requirements for the 2 Plus 2 program include a two-year campus residency followed by a two-year stint as an international worker.

Once in the field, students attend annual modular classes that are taught by Southeastern Seminary professors. All classes are customized to accommodate the students’ area of placement.

During the recent modular classes, the Pattersons held seminars for the students and ministered to their personal needs.

“As we listen to their incredible stories of progress, we are grateful for the willingness that they exhibit to abandon many of those things the average materialistic American would think necessary to have in order to find the permanent joy of service to others,” Patterson said. “And as they serve others, they do so with a spirit and power and message of the resurrected Christ.”

Patterson attributes the success of the 2 Plus 2 degree program to its creator, Keith Eitel, director of the center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern.

With more than 150 students enrolled in the 2 Plus 2 program, Patterson said he is convinced more than ever that the foundation of the program is built on “the whole idea of helping our students learn to get their arms around the world and to become a part of the answer, rather than a problem.”

“Keith Eitel has one of the keenest minds and one of the most generous hearts, as concerns the peoples of various nations,” Patterson added.

Patterson said the 2 Plus 2 international program “is one of those occasional developments that turns out to be better than its conception.”

Despite the recent deaths of missionaries in surrounding Middle Eastern countries, Patterson believes the religiously motivated murders did not discourage Southeastern students from becoming involved in outreach to the world.

“Love is, according the Apostle Paul, something that is never defeated,” Patterson said. “And, because of the fact that love abides when everything else fails, our students are motivated by a stupendous love for all people. They are not oblivious to political realities and they are not unaware of significant dangers for Westerners traveling and living abroad. I believe they are more convinced every day that the only conceivable solution for the problems that exist in our world is self-sacrificial ‘agape’ [love].

“Hence, they recognize the necessity of the Jew learning to love the Arab and the Arab learning to love the Jew. They recognize the only way to end tribal warfare in Africa is for the members of those tribes to learn to love one another.

“Of course, we cannot expect others to do what we are not willing to exhibit ourselves. Our students simply take the view that while they cannot do much about political and historical difficulties, that in the midst of those, they can be salt and light and demonstrate their love for all people and, in doing so, reveal the very heart of God and Jesus Christ.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: PRAYERWALKING.

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  • Kelly Davis