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The world is their classroom

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Most seminary students live a few minutes away from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Fort Worth campus, but for some the trip to the classroom will take a lot longer this summer. One classroom is 8,762 miles away. The others are 5,081 and 6,314 miles away.

Southwestern Seminary’s global emphasis now makes it possible for students to participate in summer study programs in and around Bonn, Germany; Nairobi, Kenya; and Istanbul, Turkey.

More than 60 students are joining nine professors overseas this summer to take classes and engage in ministry. Each program offers students the opportunity to earn up to nine credit hours while visiting locations such as Wittenberg, Germany, and ancient ruins in Ephesus. In addition, multiple opportunities for ministry will be available.

The programs offer students an opportunity to learn through hands-on history and missions practicums while gaining exposure to overseas ministry, trip coordinator Ron Harmon said.

While most of those participating in the summer study programs are current Southwestern students, some are not. “Of course our primary target is seminary students,” Harmon said, noting, “We’re getting a wide variety.” Some missionaries who are currently on the field will be participating, and at least one Southwestern alumnus is registered as well.

For the short-term missions participants, the courses provide a unique look into the requirements of seminary study and degree programs at Southwestern.

“They’ll be looking at seminary options after their term,” Harmon said, “so what we’re doing is going out to them, helping them get part of their seminary training while they’re there, and possibly encouraging them to come back here [to Southwestern].”

Those who plan long-term service on the mission field also are among the participants. The IMB requires 20 credit hours of seminary study for its long-term missionaries and short-term missionaries who are preparing for fulltime service. Nearly half of those hours can be taken on the field through summer programs.

During each three- to four-week trip, students will attend classes in the mornings and take “jaunts” — short field trips — in the afternoons to locations related to the information provided in the classroom.

Approximately 20 students are spending four weeks in and around Bonn, Germany, June 29-July 28. Classroom instruction will center on church history, especially on the history of the Protestant Reformation.

Students will journey to relevant sites in the life of Martin Luther, such as his birthplace in Eisleben, the monastery at Erfurt where he was converted, and Wittenberg, where Luther posted his 95 Theses.

The group also will visit the location of the Diet of Worms where German princes gathered in 1521 to discuss Luther’s “new” reformation teachings. Luther, having been promised safe conduct there by oxcart, was officially declared a civil and religious criminal by an edict of Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. After the emperor issued the edict, Luther resided in Wartburg Castle under a pseudonym — “Knight George.”

These sites will enhance the understanding of students studying the Reformation era, said Karen Bullock, associate professor of church history.

Students also will see at least one site representative of the darkest days of the 20th century, she said. They will visit the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, located just outside Weimar, Germany.

Buchenwald, the first concentration camp liberated by U.S. forces in April 1944, housed as many as 238,000 Jews, Poles, Russians, Gypsies and German dissidents. At least 56,000 died while awaiting deportation to other death camps.

During the third week of the trip, the group will travel to Switzerland to visit sites related to the history of the Anabaptists in Zurich and Rottenburg, Bullock said. “It’s not just site-seeing. We’re going to pack a lot in there.”

Zurich was the location of the first normative Anabaptists under the leadership of Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz.

In addition to the course on church history, David Crutchley will teach a course on Romans and Mike Barnett will teach a missiology course on creative access and tentmaking ministries.

The fourth week of the trip will be dedicated to missions activities, Bullock said. Students will split into four separate teams with each ministering in a different location.

The first team will be ministering to Russian children at a recreation camp in Siberia. Another will go to Ukraine where the team will visit school children and the elderly and preach.

A third team will work in Magdeburg, Germany, with IMB missionaries who are already ministering in a house church there. Their work will include street evangelism and building relationships by working in an American cafe.

The fourth and last team will remain in Bonn working in a church plant with other IMB missionaries. The church will be hosting “American Week,” a special event introducing the German people to baseball, football and other facets of American life, an event anticipated to provide numerous opportunities for evangelism.

In Nairobi, Kenya, Vance Kirkpatrick, a visiting missionary at Southwestern who served in Kenya for 30 years with the IMB, will teach a class on missions models and strategies among the unreached people groups of Africa.

Also in Nairobi, Tim Pierce, assistant professor of Old Testament, will teach an Old Testament survey course and Bob Headrick, missionary to Tanzania, will teach a course on Christian apologetics. Approximately 18 students will participate in the Nairobi summer program.

In Istanbul, Turkey, students will study in the city once known as Constantinople, dating at least to the fourth century. Conquered by Muslims during the 15th century, the city provides an excellent backdrop for learning about the religion and how to minister to the Muslim world. The Istanbul program was first offered in 2001.

Samuel Shahid, professor of Islamic studies, will be teaching a course on Christian inquiry into Islamic faith and practice. Jim Spivey, professor of early and medieval church history, also will offer courses. The trip will feature side journeys to the ruins of cities where the seven churches of Asia existed. The journeys are one component in a course covering the Book of Revelation, taught by Bruce Corley, professor of New Testament.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: LEARNING ABOUT LUTHER, LUTHER’S SEARCH and KENYAN HOST COLLEGE.

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  • Tony Imms