WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–With tear-filled prayers of blessing voiced by President Paige Patterson and the hands of the faculty on their backs, more than 100 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students and their family members were commissioned for missions at a May 17 service on the Wake Forest, N.C. campus.
“I was so humbled knowing that I sat in chapel for two years watching the other groups walk down to the front to receive their prayers,” said one seminary student, “but now I was the one walking down.”
While on bended knee, the students said they realized for the first time the sacrifice they were making.
“My family and I will be moving to an area of the world where foreign religion prevails,” said a student from one of 29 families commissioned for overseas work in areas of the world few people dare to venture to because of security risks and resistance to the gospel. The risks are so high for these missionaries that their names must be withheld due to matters of security. The seminarians will be working for two years under the International Mission Board’s International Service Corps program while also finishing their course of study.
More than 45 other students who were commissioned will be involved in various short-term international assignments, while 14 were commissioned with the North American Mission Board.
“I had an overwhelming spirit of peace,” one of the new missionaries said after the time of prayer. “As I stood at the front of the chapel I just prayed that God would make me a useful instrument among my lost people group.”
Keith Eitel, director of Southeastern’s Center for Great Commission Studies, said he had mixed feelings about watching this group of students being commissioned.
“I am excited that they are going to the edge of ministry,” Eitel said. “Yet I have become very close to them, so seeing them leave is very emotional.”
The elected faculty of Southeastern stood behind the students and offered a prayer of blessing.
“I was so moved by the fact that the professors prayed for me,” said one missionary appointed to North Africa. “The same professors that have had the greatest impact on my ministry were now the ones praying for me.”
Patterson urged students at the commissioning service to throw their crowns at the feet of Jesus by putting faith into action.
Patterson’s message focused on 1 Peter 5:4 which states, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
“Now, my children, in a few days, you go to the ends of the earth,” Patterson said, “and you go for only one purpose, you are ambassadors to the kingdom of God.”
Patterson prayed an emotional prayer of protection for the missionaries and their families that brought tears to the eyes of the chapel congregation.
“My precious children, know and understand that it doesn’t matter whether anyone ever notices you, and even if they do, carry it lightly as unto the Lord,” Patterson said. “So let your reward be that which comes from the other side.”
Davis is a newswriter at Southeastern Seminary.