Mary’s House making an impact during first six months of opening

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After opening its doors on January 13, Mary’s House, a missionary residence located on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has made a large impact in the lives of the International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries-in-residence who occupy one of the facility’s two apartments. Mary’s House was made available through a partnership between the seminary’s World Missions Center (WMC) and the Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas to provide housing for the missionaries-in-residence at Southwestern Seminary.

Thomas Sieberhagen, along with his wife, Holley, and two children, Primrose and Ransom, came to Southwestern in August 2022 to serve as missionaries-in-residence. However, when Mary’s House opened its doors in January 2023, the Sieberhagens began their tenure living in the newly dedicated residence.

Thomas and Holley Sieberhagen, along with their two children Primrose and Ransom, moved into one of the two apartments in Mary’s House, a residence for International Mission Board missionaries who are missionaries-in-residence at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Mary’s House is really fantastic,” said Sieberhagen. “I think, especially when you’re coming off of a long-term mission assignment, which missionaries-in-residence usually are, you are looking for a place to fully relax and de-stress.”

Sieberhagen added that he believes another reason Mary’s House is a helpful resource for missionaries-in-residence is that is provides an opportunity to host students and hopeful future missionaries. “Your job here as missionary-in-residence is to be able to welcome students in for coffee and meals to really connect with them,” said Sieberhagen.

He continued, “This is a part of what you do on the mission field, as well, to use your home for connecting with people.”

The role of missionaries-in-residence is to work closely with the WMC to promote missions on campus and to be ambassadors on campus for the IMB.

“The pathway for many students is looking to go with the IMB either through the journeyman program or apprentice career track, and it is very helpful for students to have actual missionaries to be able to talk to,” said Sieberhagen.

Sieberhagen, a Master of Divinity graduate of Southwestern, is the son of Dean Sieberhagen, associate professor of Islamic studies, Vernon D. and Jeannette Davidson Chair of Missions, and director of the Islamic Studies Program.

“I think I am in a good position here because I actually did the two-plus-three program here at Southwestern,” said Sieberhagen, who recalled to with “the missionary-in-residence back when my wife and I were looking to go to the mission field, and those conversations were so helpful for us.”

In addition to providing a place of respite for his family while on stateside assignment, Sieberhagen said Mary’s House has allowed his family the opportunity to interact with students and “hopeful future missionaries” from Southwestern Seminary.

The 2+3 and 2+2 programs are part of the Master of Divinity degree program in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. The programs are partnerships with the IMB to send students through a mission pipeline to serve internationally. Through these programs, students spend two years completing core MDiv courses and either two or three years of service with the IMB.

The degree is the Master of Divinity with a concentration in international church planting. The students who take part in the program are able to complete their degrees while serving in international settings with the IMB.

“It is very encouraging to see that the two-plus-three and two-plus-two programs are still alive and well,” said Sieberhagen. “I am really glad to see that there is still a healthy crop of new students in those programs in the pipeline to go with the IMB.”

Sieberhagen added that he finds it “fantastic and encouraging” that Southwestern is a strong missionary sending school. As the IMB is looking to hire many more missionaries, Sieberhagen believes that Southwestern is playing a large role in assisting that goal. Historically, Southwestern has sent more missionaries to serve through the IMB than any other seminary in theological education. Additionally, the current Fish School faculty has more than 160 years of combined missionary experience and service through the IMB and the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

Another aspect of the job of missionary-in-residence is being involved in the Fish School. Sieberhagen said he is involved with the weekly 10:02 prayer meeting in Mathena Hall where faculty, staff, and students meet to pray for a specific country, he promotes the Global Missions Week with the WMC, and he also is available to speak in classes.

“It has been a real joy to be so involved on campus,” said Sieberhagen. “I was able to be a substitute for an introduction to missions class this past year and it has been really great to be able to have an impact inside the classroom as well.”

Mary’s House has provided the Sieberhagen’s two young children, Primrose and Ransom, a place to play and enjoy the outdoors.

Outside of the role that brought the Sieberhagens to Mary’s House, they are grateful to have a large space for their children to grow and play. “In Belgium, it’s apartment living which is cramped,” said Sieberhagen. “There are not a lot of parks and it rains a lot there, so our kids are loving playing outside.”

He said that having a good home for a year for their children to be kids has been a highlight of living in Mary’s House.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic for them to just be able to play in the grass, in the sprinkler, and having a space for their toys; they’ve both really had a great year.”

To learn more about Mary’s House, click here.

To learn more about the 2+2 or 2+3 programs, click here.