WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Passion for people who don’t know Christ reverberated throughout Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s fourth annual 20/20 Collegiate Conference: Missio Dei.
The conference, held Feb. 2-3 on the seminary’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus, focused on God’s mission of spreading the message of salvation to people who have not yet heard. “Missio Dei” is a Latin phrase that means “the mission of God.”
Southeastern Seminary holds the conference each year to equip college students to think rightly about their faith and encourage them to live a bold witness on their campuses and beyond. This year’s conference was headlined by C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries as well as Southeastern President Daniel Akin.
More than 750 students listened to plenary speakers and participated in breakout sessions on topics like the persecuted church, ministry among other religions and caring for the poor.
“God’s not interested in being a part of your life,” J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., told the students. “Until God is at the center of your life, until your story has been wrapped up in His story, until you see yourself wrapped up in Him … ultimately, no matter how Christian you seem, you haven’t gotten into the story God has been telling throughout the Bible, and that is the story of Him.”
Telling God’s story to the nations is the purpose of every Christian’s life, Greear said. Christians must be willing to “take a dare on God” to share the Gospel message with them.
Speaking from the Book of Jonah, a missionary from Central Asia — who cannot be identified for security purposes — said Jonah’s story is a classic tale about missions.
“God’s heart for the nations is on every page. The Book of Jonah is classically and gloriously a book about missions,” the missionary said. “The greatest obstacle to missions is the attitudes of God’s people — the problem of our disobedience and nothing else.”
He challenged conference participants to search their hearts and determine whether they were being disobedient to the call, like Jonah was. “We have over 1 million lost people for every worker,” the missionary said. “We are so horribly overworked and over-numbered, I can’t help but think God is calling and we are ignoring him.”
Even 52 years after he was martyred by the Huaorani tribe of Ecuador, missionary Jim Elliot continues to make the Lord’s name great across the earth as his life affects people even today, Akin said.
“The Lord who is great and greatly to be praised is praised more tonight because of men like Jim Elliot,” Akin said, reading an entry from Elliot’s journal: “God, I pray thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.”
On Jan. 8, 1956, Elliot and four fellow missionaries were attacked and killed by members of the people group they were trying to reach with the Gospel. “Jim did give up that which he could not keep, to gain what he could not lose,” Akin said. “My question is this: Will I? Will you?”
The final plenary speaker challenged students to be missionaries both in their own communities and abroad. Gordon Fort, vice president of overseas operations for the International Mission Board, said spreading the Gospel is part of the debt every Christian owes.
“I have an idea that many of you this afternoon could stand and say, ‘I am a trophy of God’s grace,'” Fort said. “Friends, if God didn’t pass you by, then you have a debt to pay. You have an obligation and you have a responsibility to those who have never heard.”
Lauren Crane is a writer for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. To access audio files of this year’s 20/20 Collegiate Conference plenary speakers or for information about next year’s conference, visit www.sebts.edu/2020.