Since the inception of BMA Seminary, two verses of scripture have been our touchstones: Earnestly contend for the faith from Jude 3 and teaching others to teach others from II Timothy 2:2.
The past month for the seminary family has been a good illustration of those two verses. I recently returned from eight days on the mission field of Mexico. Ricky Williams (BMA Seminary class of 1978) is in his twenty-sixth year of service at the BMA Bible Institute near Aquismon in Central Mexico. At least once a year, Brother Williams sponsors a one-week course for our national missionaries from all across Mexico. Last month our course covered the theology of corporate worship. We were blessed to have over twenty in attendance. For many it was their first time to develop a Biblical framework for what are acceptable elements of a public service that glorifies God and therefore helps to contend seriously for the faith. Faithful men taught Brother Williams and me these same things years ago, enabling us to pass it along to other faithful men last week.
Shortly after the BMA began cooperating with the Baptists in Russia in the early 1990's, three young men came to the seminary from three separate areas of the former Soviet Union. Baptists in nearly all areas of Eastern Europe were plagued with some of the influences of the modern charismatic movement, particularly their teaching that true believers can lose their salvation. Obviously, there needed to be teaching so that they could earnestly contend for the faith. All three young men graduated and went on to become teachers of others. Of the three, one has earned his doctoral degree and another is nearing completion of a doctoral program. Dr. Fiodor Baraniuk (BMA Seminary class of 1999) was recently awarded a Ph.D. in Missiology. In addition to serving as the BMA=s coordinator of Russian ministries, he has also served as adjunct professor of missions for the BMA Seminary. In the previous school year he helped with a missions class at our extension site at Central Baptist College in Conway, Arkansas. Last month, he taught a class of 16 in Jacksonville. Dr. Baraniuk is a product of faithful men preparing other faithful men and an example of how the BMA Seminary helps to strengthen our work worldwide.
Also last month, Dr. Philip Bryan, President Emeritus and professor of theology at BMA Seminary (BMA Seminary class of 1962), taught a large class with students from as far away as Brownsville, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri, and Baghdad, Iraq. Some of these students are under the age of thirty and could have decades of teaching others to teach others.
Drs. Gerald Kellar, D. N. Jackson and W. J. Dorman taught Dr. Philip Bryan. Dr. Bryan instructed me (class of 1994) and Brother Ricky Williams. Brother Williams and I taught Dr. Baraniuk. Now Dr. Baraniuk is teaching others. Similar chains of earnestly contending for the faith by teaching others to teach stretch around the world from the BMA Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas.
The spring semester started the last week of January. Enrollment was strong, and we nearly reached our record enrollment of last fall (138 students). It is normal for all seminaries to have a smaller spring class; however, our enrollment remained encouragingly high and was coupled with high occupancy in our apartments.
The ministry of teaching others to teach is not an inexpensive endeavor. Our utilities, insurance, and maintenance costs continue to increase just as they do for each of our churches. Thanks to generous year-end giving by several churches and individuals, we have been able to begin 2006 with our regular bills current. The only debt we have that is not secured by rent income is a note for just under $5000. This note was incurred to repave our parking lot for the first time in over twenty years.
As we enter the Jubilee Year of the seminary with a good enrollment, we would also like to see the parking lot note paid off. There is without a doubt more than one church in the association and several local associations with much more than $5000 in reserve. Please join the seminary trustees and me in praying that a church or association would be led to erase this debt. Also, join us in prayer for two dozen more churches to join our group of monthly supporters. Just a few dozen more could give us the breathing room we need for our regular monthly expenses. If your church is not already a monthly supporter, give me a call to set up a visit to your church to explain the seminary mission of training tomorrow‚Äôs leaders today.
Christ commanded us to make disciples as we go throughout the world. Pray for the seminary's ministry of training those who go that they will continue to teach others to teach others to earnestly contend for the faith.