I Am Going: An Unexpected Mission

By: Ya Min Park

Ya Min Park is a recent SEBTS graduate who has earned both an M.Div, and a Th.M in Old Testament. He is planning to move to New York City soon to plant a church. Read below to learn how he is going to use his training from Southeastern while serving in NYC, as well as the story of how he came to study at SEBTS.

My church planting in NYC will start this year. I have three target groups: International Students, second Generation Asian Students, and Jewish Students in Columbia University and NYU. I know that third group is much different from the first two. (If you know about the first two groups, you would say that they are totally different too.) Anyways, the first two groups would make sense to you, if you knew that I’m an International Student from South Korea. However you might ask, “Why is my interest in reaching Jewish Students?”

Jewish Missions has been a keyword for my life from my freshman year of college. I was praying hard that God would give me a mission that I could live and die for. Jewish Missions was given to me as the answer to my prayer. My twenties was wholly focused on Jewish Missions. Since we don’t have a Jewish Community in Korea, I had to make several overseas trips to reach out to people from a Jewish descent. I have been to Israel two times, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Russia.

After the last mission trip to Russia, I decided two important things. My first decision was to study Theology before jumping into the full time ministry, because I saw various complicated theological confusions. While I was joining the missions, I met many missionaries, ministers, and leaders of Messianic Jews. Each of them has their own idea and theology on who are Jews; what the Jewish Mission is; and what we need to do for Jewish people and God’s kingdom. Thus, depending on whom I work with, the ministry swings from one extreme to the other. It gave me doubts about ministry work that I have done and left me with questions about the God’s mission and ministry to people from a Jewish background.

The second decision I made was to come to the US to reach out to the Jewish people in the US. When I went on my last mission trip to Novosibirsk, Russia, I had just graduated from college. During the whole time I stayed in Russia, I was praying that God would show me the next step. By the End of the mission trip, I found that my heart was pretty much ready to do anything God would give me. When I got back to Korea, the one who picked me up at the airport suggested that I go to the US, since the largest Jewish population outside of Israel is in the US. And I accepted this advice with my heart full of God’s calling.

I applied to three seminaries in the US. I picked to come to the one that gave me an admission first which was SEBTS. From the beginning of my seminary life, my concern was to equip myself to share the gospel with the Jewish people. Thus, my main focus was on Old Testament Studies since I wanted to talk to Jewish people about the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible. Then I realized that is what the authors of the New Testament tried to do. Throughout the book of the New Testament, they wanted to prove that Jesus is the Messiah according to the Hebrew Bible. So my study is expanded to the whole Bible and Biblical Theology.

As I finished my M.Div., I was not sure that I had built my own theology for Jewish Mission. I learned various Theological understandings on the issues but it was still difficult for me to choose my theology. So I started working the Th.M. with a focus in the Old Testament. I wanted to make sure whether there are unfulfilled prophecies concerning Israel or all has been or will be fulfilled in the church. The question led me to write my Th.M. paper, “Examination and Evaluation of Progressive Dispensational Understanding of the Day of the LORD in Zechariah 12-14.” After all the years of study at Southeastern, I do not claim that I have a perfect answer for my questions, but I am pretty confident to say that now I know what I need to study and how I study it.

I love the “Go” campaign of SEBTS. And I believe that it is time for me to “Go”. I am going to reach out to three target student groups on campuses in Manhattan, NYC. I am so thankful for the season of study and the faithful teachers at Southeastern. Finally I am going forward boldly for the calling from my heavenly Father.


What Precedes the Great Commission?

By: Joshua A. Waggener

What precedes the Great Commission?

For anyone here at the “Great Commission” seminary, that may sound like a trick question! Can anything take precedence over our calling to “make disciples” as we are going into all the world, baptizing, and teaching?

But consider for just a moment the actions that led up to Jesus’ giving of the commission in Matthew’s account. First, his faithful eleven disciples obey a specific command to go to Galilee (28:16). This instruction fulfills Jesus’ promise from Matthew 26:32: “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Here the order is spoken first by an angel to “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” (v. 7), and then repeated by Jesus himself to the women (v. 10).

Upon receiving the word, the disciples followed their orders to return to Galilee. This was their home! And the mountain where they returned to was possibly the very place where Jesus had first called them to be his disciples. By obeying this instruction, the “twelve less one” demonstrated their faithfulness to Jesus’ words, even those relayed by others.

But what happened next? The text says “they saw him.” What a glorious moment! To see the risen Lord Jesus must have been an astonishing experience. Although the message they received from the women back in Jerusalem affirmed that “there they will see me” (v. 10), to actually set eyes on Jesus provoked a response of the heart and the body.

What was their response to seeing Christ? As verse 17 states: “they worshiped him.” The Greek verb used here – proskyneo – means, in general, to “kiss the hand” or “by kneeling or prostration to do homage.” In our English Bibles it is translated as “fall down,” “knelt,” or simply “worshiped.”

So, to alter the initial question slightly, “What preceded the giving of the Great Commission?” Answer: The disciples came to Jesus in a posture of worship. How appropriate! Although “some doubted” (v. 17) – or at least hesitated – as the encounter began, Jesus’ words would confirm that he had been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (v. 18). His Lordship deserved to be shown homage. His disciples were to wait in humility for his next command: the Great Commission.

What precedes the Great Commission today? As Jesus’ disciples, we are to approach our Lord just as the Eleven did on that mountain in Galilee. With our hearts humble and our wills ready to do His will, it is in the posture of worship that we are to receive the Great Commission.

Dr. Joshua A. Waggener is Assistant Professor of Music and Christian Worship at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Culture of the Christ-Haunted South

Russell Moore, the president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, begins his latest book, Onward, by telling a story.Onward Russ had a college friend, an atheist, who wasn’t antagonistic towards the Christian faith so much as he found it simply irrelevant. Russ and he had friendly coffee-shop debates about the existence of God, and on a number of occasions Russ had shared his faith with his unbelieving friend. So when his friend, out of the blue, asked Russ to recommend a church for him to attend, Russ thought the friend must have had a Damascus Road-type conversion. His friend quickly corrected Russ:

He rolled his eyes. “I don’t believe any of that stuff,” he said. “But I want to go into politics, and I’m never going to be elected to anything in this state if I’m not a church member. And I’ve looked at the numbers; there are more Southern Baptists around here than anything else, so sign me up.”

I was stunned into momentary silence as he stopped to check out a girl walking past our table. He then took a swig of coffee and continued, “But seriously, nothing freaky; if anybody starts screaming about hell or pulling a snake out of a box, I’m out of there.” (2)

Russ makes his point well. There has been a serious downside to the culture of the Bible-Belt, a milieu he calls “the culture of the Christ-haunted South.” For many persons, claiming to be a Christian became so expedient that it blinded them about the actual claims of Christ.

Russ argues that the collapse of the Bible-Belt provides the Church with a new opportunity. “We ought to see the ongoing cultural shake-up in America as a liberation of sorts from a captivity we never even knew we were in” (7). In Onward: Engaging the Gospel without Losing the Culture, Russ Moore makes the case for a clear-eyed optimism. I think he’s right.

Cross-posted at ww.theologyforthechurch.com