FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Dean Sieberhagen grew up in a nominally Christian home and accepted Christ at age 11. When it came time to go to college, he followed the lead of his father and studied business and commerce at Rhodes University, later going on to join the accounting faculty as a professor. Not long after he married his wife Sandra, however, the couple became impressed that the Lord had other plans—plans that involved work of a quite different and difficult sort.
“God began to burden our hearts for those who have never heard about Jesus,” Sieberhagen says. “We reached a point where we just couldn’t accept anymore that there were people who had not yet heard. So, God's call on our life became to those who have never heard.”
For the past 13 years, the Sieberhagens served with their four sons as missionaries in an undisclosed location in Asia, working to share the Gospel with an unreached people group who had never heard of Jesus Christ or His free gift of salvation.
“[The Lord] opened the door to do the 2+2 church planting program at Southeastern Seminary and as part of that program to go with the IMB (International Mission Board) to an unreached people group in Asia,” Sieberhagen says. “So from 1999 through 2012, we lived and did church planting among an unreached people group.”
During the 13 years they spent in Asia, Dean earned his Ph.D., and later both he and Sandra began to sense that the Lord was redirecting their calling to the unreached people groups into the form of training others to go. Not long afterward, the Lord led them to Southwestern Seminary, where Sieberhagen now serves as assistant professor of missions and Islamic studies.
Sieberhagen takes his role as professor and his job of preparing students for the mission field every bit as seriously as his role among the unreached people groups. He says he looks forward to watching hearts turn toward those people who have never heard, much like his heart was turned toward them as a business professor some years ago.
“I love it here, but if my teaching does not result in more people going to the unreached, then I have not been successful,” Sieberhagen says.
In discussing what students can expect from his classes, Sieberhagen named exposure, participation and conviction. He said students will be exposed to people who do not know about Jesus in terms of knowledge, in terms of passion for them and in terms of what the Bible has to say. Participation will be key as well, he said.
“My classes are not just for information, but I expect [students] to interact with both me and the material,” Sieberhagen says.
Additionally, Sieberhagen believes the Holy Spirit will move in and convict the hearts of students as they learn about the need for messengers to tell people about Christ so that they might believe on His name and find eternal salvation.
Sieberhagen says if he could encourage students in one thing, he would urge them to start going until God stops them.
“What I mean by that is most students keep waiting for God to open a door, whereas I would say to them, ‘Don’t do that. Start going through doors. Try a door. If it’s not meant to be, then God will close it,’” Sieberhagen says. “‘But instead of passively waiting, actively walk through a door unless God closes it.’”