When Charles Patrick took the stage, he brought nothing with him but a gold-handled broad saber. As he removed the blade from its scabbard, the vice president for strategic initiatives and communications informed the audience of new graduate and undergraduate students that Southwestern Seminary is a forge wherein they “are wrought for active and impactful ministry.”

“You are exposed to the fires of evangelism and missions and the forces of theological education and spiritual formation,” Patrick said, enlightening those assembled for New Student Orientation, Jan. 17, about the future that awaits them. Noting the illustrative prop in his hand, Patrick continued that the students are “adeptly shaped into swords of ministry” that are:

-Hardened in order to be unwavering on the inerrancy of the Word and doctrinal truths in the midst of changing culture;

-Sharp in order to be theologically precise in today’s syncretistic society;

-Flexible in order to share the Gospel in any context to reach the world;

-Balanced between orthodoxy and orthopraxy so they can be both the head and hands of ministry;

-Strong for sacrificial service and spiritual warfare.

Patrick was one of several to welcome the new Southwesterners to campus. Others included the deans of their respective schools, professors in their fields of study, and Dean of Students Kyle Walker.

“You’re finally here!” Walker declared. “You made it! I know some of you traveled a long way, some of you traveled just a short distance, but you’re here. I know you faced obstacles to get here; perhaps some of you thought you’d never make it, but you did.”

The students represented a variety of backgrounds, coming from 12 different states and five countries, including China, France and India. At Walker’s direction, the students shouted out their places of origin, prompting Walker to note, “Do you hear what God has been orchestrating around the world just to produce what’s going on in this room today here in Fort Worth, Texas?”

Students were also afforded the opportunity to hear a word from Southwestern President Paige Patterson. Patterson characterized life at the seminary as “the Great Tribulation set to an awful lot of fun.”

“The Great Tribulation because we’re deadly serious about getting you prepared in the very best way we know how to do whatever it is that God has called you to do,” Patterson said. At the same time, however, Patterson explained that “people who really know how to serve God learn how to have fun in every circumstance in life.”

He continued, “I want you to finish the seminary worn out; I want you to need a vacation worse than you’ve ever needed one in your whole life; and I want you to say at the end, ‘Man, I’d do it again; I’ve never had so much fun.’”

Ending his address on a slightly more serious note, Patterson clarified that the object of the students’ studies is not a degree. The object, he said, “is 7 billion lost people on the face of the globe today. We have to get ready to get the Gospel to every one of them.”

New Student Orientation was the first event of the spring semester’s annual “Welcome Week.” To stay up to date on Student Life events this semester, visit swbts.edu/events