FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Tents lined the seminary lawn Sept. 6 as the International Church Planting Week kicked off with a campout for world missions.
During the evening, students and faculty heard from three College at Southwestern students who spent the spring semester overseas with the International Mission Board (IMB) and earned course credit as part of the seminary’s Hands-On project. The campout also included a focused time of prayer and praise.
International Church Planting Week is an annual emphasis week coordinated by Southwestern’s World Missions Center designed to encourage students to consider the call to international missions and to provide information on how they can be involved. This year’s focus was on people groups in Central Asia.
Missions professor Dean Sieberhagen picked up the week’s focus during a chapel sermon, Sept. 10. Sieberhagen and his family served for more than a decade as missionaries with IMB.
“I feel especially blessed,” Sieberhagen said during his sermon introduction. “I think you can argue with me as much as you’d like, but I’ve [been able] to do the two greatest jobs in the world—I’ve served as a missionary in Asia, and now I get to teach missions and see young people go out and serve all over the world. I don’t know that there’s any better profession than that.”
Sieberhagen preached from Luke 19 on Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus.
“Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was,” Sieberhagen said.
“And that is the question for every person alive today because we can easily talk with Muslims, or Buddhists, or Hindus about God—there’s all these generic words for ‘God.’ But it comes down to ‘Who is Jesus?’ And you have not done mission work until you have confronted people with ‘Who is Jesus?’”
Sieberhagen explained that he has met many “Zacchaeuses” during his missionary work who have sought the Lord and been radically changed by God.
“If any of you have ever met a Muslim who has come to Christ and truly been saved,” Sieberhagen said, “you’ll see that they get on fire, they’re excited. So, let’s go find them. Let’s go to the places where they’re waiting to hear. … The Zacchaeuses of the world are waiting; they and their families are waiting for us.”
Other activities during the week included a missions information night, where career missionaries serving in Central Asia shared about their work and answered questions. Students also received information on Southwestern’s international church planting 2+2 degree program, Jump Start 2+2 program, and the Hands-On missions concentration in the College at Southwestern.
During a Central Asian cultural night, students drank tea and participated in an interactive learning experience that introduced them to customs surrounding weddings in Central Asia. A college night on Thursday offered additional opportunities for students to explore a call to international missions.
Appropriately, International Church Planting Week ended right where it began, with a focused evening of prayer and praise for the nations and people groups in Central Asia.