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‘Tangible acts of service’ must accompany the Gospel, Akin says

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–Whether by taking the Gospel across the streets of North America or to the nations of the world, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has the Great Commission on its heart, according to President Daniel Akin.

Akin, who addressed messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention in his June 13 annual report, noted that at Southeastern, “What we believe and what we do go hand in hand.”

“The world will know that we are followers of Jesus Christ by the way we love one another,” Akin said. “That means that while we are a theological institution, it is not all about the classroom…. The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be backed up by tangible acts of service revealed in the lives of those willing to go anywhere to serve King Jesus. This is the heart of Southeastern Seminary and [Southeastern] College [at Wake Forest, the undergraduate school of the seminary].”

Akin chose two examples to highlight this commitment.

The first, Southeastern’s Operation G.R.A.C.E. disaster relief initiative was aimed at helping its sister seminary, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and the hurricane victims of the Gulf Coast region, Akin said. Moved with compassion, Southeastern gave a love gift of more than $147,000 to New Orleans Seminary and sent four teams totaling more than 450 students, staff and faculty “to work, to love and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

In front of the stage were nearly 100 of the students and staff who assisted on disaster relief trips. Dennis Darville, Southeastern’s vice president for communication and student development, organized and led all four trips. He told messengers that he had “never been more honored to be known as a Christian and certainly never more honored to be known as a Southern Baptist” than he was in his time in the Gulf Coast, watching Southern Baptists from across the nation serve in the spirit of Christ.

“We should never, ever underestimate the people of God when they are under a mandate from Jesus Christ to go out and accomplish a specific mission for Him,” Darville said.

According to Akin, Gulf Coast residents were not the only ones affected deeply by the school’s disaster relief efforts.

“We learned that what takes place outside the classroom is many times more significant and has a greater impact than what happens inside the classroom,” Akin said. “I know these students will have a different perspective on ministry…. Seeing people not as the world sees them, but as the Lord Jesus Christ sees them — that is going to stick with these students for the rest of their lives.”

The second example, Southeastern’s growing “2 + 2” missions program, highlighted its commitment to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ, Akin said.

The program, which operates in partnership with the International Mission Board, allows students to spend two years as full-time students on the seminary’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus, followed by two years on the international mission field.

Although the school’s hope was that 50 percent of its “2 + 2” graduates would go on to be career missionaries, Akin announced that nearly 90 percent return to the mission field to serve as lifelong ambassadors of the Gospel.

Messengers heard testimonies from several Southeastern missionaries, including ones that will be leaving soon for the mission field. They said that despite the inherent dangers involved in such service, they look forward to the opportunity.

“We’re thankful that we can take our little girl to another place where she can grow up and see the world that Christ died to save,”said one of the missionaries, whose name is withheld for security reasons.

Said another missionary, “I want to tell as many people as possible … about a God that sent His Son to die so that we can commune with and worship Him one day in heaven. I have the awesome privilege to go to a people group that does not know Him and share about Him … so that people group might be won to Christ and might worship with us one day.”

Akin concluded by saying that Southeastern, which has grown to nearly 2,600 students, strives to instill in its students both a mind and a heart dedicated to the service of the Lord.

“I think you can be very proud that you have the largest seminary in America on the East Coast that is biblically grounded, theologically sound, but also a school that has an unbelievable heart and passion for the souls of lost men and women, boys and girls,” Akin said.

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  • Kyle Smith