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In Sudan, elsewhere, seminarians stirred by mission trips
August 30, 2004
By David Roach
Dennis McDaniel (above) was one of more than four dozen students and faculty to participate in seminary mission trips this summer. McDaniel ministered in Tanzania.
Enduring temperatures of more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit at times and preaching the Gospel to people who had little or no previous exposure to Christianity, students from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary shared Christ in Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Ecuador and East Asia.
More than four dozen students and faculty members participated in the seminary’s missions initiatives this summer.
The trips to Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan were a part of the seminary’s partnership with the Eastern Africa region of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“At Southern Seminary, we believe that participation in the Great Commission is not optional, and we are committed to training students to that end,” said Twyla Fagan, director of Great Commission ministries at Southern. “The students who went out this summer from Southern experienced many different challenges, both physical and spiritual. Most importantly, though, they were used of God to see people come from spiritual darkness into saving light through the preaching of the Word.”
The trip to Sudan, for example, served as motivation for future missions involvement for Derek Bass, a master of theology student from Houston who said he is considering serving as a Bible translator overseas upon his graduation from Southern.
“For the longest time, my passion has been to teach in the seminary or pastor,” said Bass, who conducted leadership training for Christians in the city of Akot. “And now I have really been considering doing Bible translation. So in a lot of ways, my going was seeking to test and approve God’s will.”
Whether Bass ends up serving as an international missionary or pastoring a church in the United States, his experience in Sudan will help him communicate more effectively the desperate need for Gospel proclamation to the nations, he said.
“The overwhelming sense I had was the great need we have in America for pastors who have a passion for the nations and professors who have a passion for the nations,” Bass said. “... I feel like right here and now, as I’m trying to be faithful in the church where I am, this trip has helped me pray more fervently for the missionaries that I support in my church and really understand the difficulties and setbacks that they’re going to face on the field.”
Another participant in the Sudan outreach, Christopher Parker, a master of divinity student from Brevard, N.C., said his trip demonstrated the Gospel’s power to take hold in a culture with very little previous exposure to Christianity. Parker conducted leadership training with Bass among the Dinka people in southern Sudan.
“It was really a blessing to see the church beginning to thrive and grow and to see the excitement and the zeal of these Christian leaders among the Dinka,” he said. “The Dinka have been warriors for thousands of years, and just to see the Gospel take hold and to see the church beginning to grow and take hold in the lives of the people [was a great victory].”
On another trip, Justin Clark, a master of divinity student from Charleston, S.C., worked with a team conducting door-to-door evangelism and ministering to homeless in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
“It just reminded me ... of the urgency that there is in the world for people who need to hear the Gospel,” Clark said. “... I don’t believe we’re reminded of that here in our culture. But to be there among tens, hundreds of thousands of people in ... the outlaying areas of this metropolitan city in Ecuador, you just realize the desperate need of the people.”