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Practicing and praying for missions
April 21, 2003
By Bryan Cribb

Prayer and practice. These are twin columns of the Great Commission task. And whether one goes as a missionary or sends, each Christian has a responsibility to perform these missiological obligations as outlined by Jesus Himself.

Beginning Tuesday, April 22, and ending Saturday, April 26, Southern Seminary students and faculty will be provided an opportunity to fulfill these tasks as a community. Southern Seminary’s fourth annual Great Commission Week will grant students, faculty and staff with several occasions to be involved in prayer and practice -- even in the midst of reading and research.

“The goal of Great Commission Week in general is to raise awareness of the need for Christians to participate in missions, discipling, evangelizing -- all the things the Great Commission embodies,” said Twyla Fagan, director of Southern Seminary’s Great Commissions Ministries and coordinator of Great Commission Week.

An event occurring at the end of the week -- Reaching Out 2003 -- is actually the highlight. On Saturday, students and faculty will join with local churches to participate in a panoply of outreach opportunities.

Students and other members of the seminary community will meet to part on the seminary lawn at 9:30 a.m. Nine different student-led teams will then go out to do street evangelism, servant evangelism, door-to-door evangelism, prayer walking and church surveys. Each team will have at least two student leaders and a faculty participant.

“I would love to see the whole student body and the whole faculty and staff out,” Fagan said.

All teams will return by 1 p.m. for a time of pizza, testimonies and fellowship. Students can sign-up for any of the teams in the Billy Graham School office. Anyone can come, including family members and church members. Those who sign up before the event will receive a “Reaching Out 2003” T-shirt.

“I think that Reaching Out 2003 is going to be a lot of fun,” Fagan said. “It’s going to give people who may feel like that they’re in the ‘Baptist cocoon’ here on campus a chance to get out with other students and do different types of evangelism.”

Also highlighting Great Commission Week will be two special chapel speakers -- Roger Spradlin and Ben Young.

“They are going to speak on ministry in the U.S.,” Fagan said. “They both have growing churches in different parts of the country.”

Spradlin, who is a former chairman of Southern’s board of trustees, will speak during Tuesday’s chapel. Spradlin currently serves as pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif.

Young, who heads up the singles ministry at Houston’s Second Baptist Church, will speak in chapel Thursday. Young is the son of Second Baptist Church pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention president Ed Young Sr. The singles ministry at Second Baptist, with a whopping 12,000 members, is the largest in the country.

The Thursday service also will place a special emphasis on North American missions. The chapel program itself will celebrate Southern Seminary students and graduates serving as church planters. And immediately following chapel, a commissioning service will held for students who will serve as church planters, 2 Plus 2 students, summer missionaries and students who are soon to graduate and go full-time to the mission field.

This service will enable the seminary community to send off and commit to pray for fellow student missionaries.

“It’s a show of support, but it’s more than just a human support,” Fagan said. “It’s a spiritual thing. They’ll be able to know that the seminary family is behind them and supporting them.”

Also featured during Great Commission Week will be a special MissionQuest meeting Tuesday night. Afshin Ziafat, a converted Muslim and a collegiate minister for the North American Mission Board, will speak on reaching out to Muslims in America at 7 p.m. in room 310 of the Conference Center.

His coming to Southern is “a timely event,” Fagan said.

“With the events of the world, we’re all interested in Islam and what the true nature of Islam is,” she said.

But, Christians must also realize the need to share the Gospel with Muslims here in the States, she said.

“It’s sounds almost trite now, but we do have the world at our backdoor,” Fagan said. “So part of Reaching Out 2003 and this focus of MissionQuest is [to demonstrate] that there are many ethnic groups even here in Louisville in large populations that need to hear the Gospel.”

A last event for the week will be a 24-hour prayer tent on the seminary lawn. Members of the seminary community can sign up for a time to pray for missions in the tent, which will remain up from Thursday, noon, until Friday, noon.

For more information about any of Great Commission Week’s activities, contact the Billy Graham School, x4108.

Students interested in evangelizing on a weekly basis can contact Martin Irvin, x4473, who heads the Southern Evangelistic Teams. These teams go out each Saturday to spread the Gospel to the Louisville community.

Said Fagan, “I hope that it won’t be just an event anymore. [I hope] that it will be a lifestyle. While this is a great thing to put a special emphasis on, [we hope] that this won’t be a one-time event for our students, that [instead] they will always be involved in those three areas -- service, prayer and evangelism.”


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