During the 2018 Scholarship Donor Luncheon, April 10, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Travis Trawick noted the gratitude he and Southwestern’s faculty and students have for the many ministry partners who are willing to give of their time and resources, particularly through scholarships, which aid students who have been called to ministry. The annual luncheon affords student recipients and donors the opportunity to meet one another, and it allows students a setting to thank ministry partners for their gifts. 

Representing the students, Ph.D. student Andre Kirkland stood before attendees to share his testimony of how scholarships have enabled him to attend Southwestern and be equipped for Kingdom work. Born and raised in a small Mississippi town, Kirkland grew up in the church but never had any ideas of ministry. He eventually pursued a bachelor’s degree in accounting and later a master’s degree in taxation, aspiring to one day be a corporate lawyer. But God had other plans, Kirkland said.

In 2012, God called Kirkland to vocational ministry, specifically to be a preacher. After receiving counsel from his pastor, he was encouraged to attend seminary so that he could be adequately prepared for his calling. Kirkland sensed the Lord’s leading him to study at Southwestern Seminary, where he said he has received the tools necessary for ministry, but has also connected with a community of believers who support one another. 

“God, through His divine providence and sovereignty, led me exactly to the place that I needed to be. And I believe that ministry is all about relationships,” Kirkland said. “Not only are we training and equipping students to become scholars and proclaimers of the Gospel, but here we are intentional about doing life together.”

Directing his gratitude toward donors, Kirkland said scholarships enabled him to complete his Master of Divinity early and move on to his doctoral studies. When he and other students feel discouraged and are ready to quit, he added, the encouragement of people like Southwestern’s ministry partners remind them of their purpose. 

“It is because of your scholarships, charitable contributions and gifts that students like myself are able to get a foundational theological training that will never leave us as we seek to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Kirkland said.

Also addressing attendees was long-time ministry partner Louie Lu, who, alongside his wife, has not only provided student scholarships, but has supported Southwestern in many other ways, including the Dressed for Service ministry, the School of Church Music, the acquisition of the Lottie Moon House now located in Mathena Hall, and the Mandarin Translation Project.

After becoming a Christian, Lu says the Lord blessed his business. Finding financial security, he was later convicted that he needed to use his finances to be a blessing to others. Lu wanted to live with an eternal perspective and invest in something beyond worldly possessions and comforts. 

After connecting with Southwestern Seminary about 16 years ago, Lu and his wife established a scholarship and began an ongoing ministry partnership with the seminary. He said it was a way to not only help students complete their education without any debt, but to invest in the Kingdom.

Southwestern, he concluded, trains and equips students for the most important work of all: preaching and teaching the Word of God. Lu said, “Southwestern is one of the best places you can invest in eternity.”