Faith and joy in the Lord in the face of difficulties are the keys to a fruitful walk with Christ and a rewarding ministry, President Paige Patterson told Southwestern Seminary faculty and students during the fall 2017 convocation, Aug. 24. The rousing strains of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” followed by Patterson’s message, launched the seminary’s 110th fall semester.

Patterson recalled the trials of Paul, who, in Acts 16, was imprisoned for ministering the Gospel. Jailed, bloody and beaten, Paul focused on his transformational experience—and joy—on the road to Damascus.

“Once you’ve received God, the glory of that moment will transcend everything else that happens to you,” Patterson said. “If you find yourself in a dungeon, complaining will not help matters.” When problems compound and the bills roll in, “that’s when you start singing,” he said.

“We need to be a society where ministers will sing in the midst of the day,” Patterson continued. “If you want to know how to be happy and jubilant, then learn to sing in jail. When you start singing, everybody in the world is going to listen.”

Patterson also recalled a lesson he learned from his experience with a childhood pet—a cat named Lollipop—that illustrated Paul’s statement that one must believe in order to be saved. Lollipop was prone to climb tall trees, then fear coming down, and thus he would wait to be rescued. One day, the cat became stuck when there was no one to rescue him but Patterson. When Patterson climbed the tree to retrieve the cat, however, he too became stuck.

The solution came when Patterson’s father later arrived. He assured the young Patterson, “Jump, and I’ll catch you.”

Patterson recalled, “I held Lollipop close, shut my eyes tight to avoid the mess that would occur, and then leapt from the tree. He caught us both.”

“In later years, I realized that was what New Testament belief was all about,” he said. “I was perfectly safe in my Father’s arms.

“Faith is not intellectual belief. It is a moment in your life when you say ‘no’ to everything else and commit to Jesus.”

In addition to Patterson’s sermon, the convocation service welcomed new and returning faculty and students to the campus, including new appointed faculty members Yu Wen Lee and Daniel Weaver. The event also introduced new elected faculty members Matt Harrison, Justin Hiester, Ethan Jones, Brandon Kiesling, Andrew Street and Nathan Holstein, who each sat at B.H. Carroll’s desk to sign their names into Southwestern’s historical book of service.