Month: October 2017

It’s great to have friends

The TEXAN is full of stories and churches and individuals in Texas that are showing up for their brethren. I love stories of energetic churches that opened to their communities, hosted disaster relief teams, mobilized disaster relief teams and adopted churches wounded by Hurricane Harvey. I love stories of ministry partners like Criswell College, Jacksonville College and Southwestern Seminary who facilitated training and deployment of their students to help with Harvey restoration efforts. We pray that this energy will continue for the coming months.

But I’d like to highlight here the hundreds of folks who came from sister state conventions as they mobilized their own disaster relief units to come to Texas. They crossed the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Red and even the Pacific to help Texas. We are grateful for our brothers and sisters from Arkansas, Arizona, Alabama, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oregon and Washington, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and both the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and the Baptist General Association of Virginia. It’s humbling to note that some of these states were also deploying units to other states and or even to their own storm damage. Friends, this is a high point of cooperation between autonomous churches and fellowships of churches, and it is enabled by the Cooperative Program. The overwhelming number of shower, chainsaw, feeding, mud out, laundry, childcare and bunkhouse units, as well as training and expenses for volunteers were paid for by state conventions using Cooperative Program funds from their churches. 

Additionally, we note that we have received financial help for Harvey relief from 48 states since late August. Individuals, state conventions and the North American Mission Board have opened their hearts and wallets for the sake of the enormous need faced by our churches and church families. God has blessed Texas through you. Thank you. 

500 YEARS: ‘Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise’

Martin Luther, though a Catholic monk, was terrified of God. God’s wrath, God’s justice, God’s consuming fire made Luther tremble in agony. He searched for some kind of solace, but to no avail.

Luther spent hours in confession, hoping to stave off the fury of God. He recounted every sin, believing that in order for every sin to be pardoned, every sin must be confessed. Many times he would walk out from the confession box only to turn right back around and begin again because he recalled more sins in need of repentance.

On his pilgrimage to Rome he ventured through the eternal city hoping to find some spiritual relief but instead found only irreverence and disappointment. He climbed Pilate’s Stairs and recited the Pater Noster (The Lord’s Prayer of Matthew 6:9-13) on each step, hoping to release family members from purgatory. Upon the last step he said in doubt, “Who knows whether it is so?”

Luther returned home still dreading God, and even worse, hating Him. When he was moved to Wittenburg to join the university, Johann von Staupitz, Luther’s supervisor in the Augustinian order, saw to it that the troubled monk would get a doctorate in theology. Luther was to study the Bible. And study the Bible he did. 

Luther started in the Psalms, and in Psalm 23 he saw Jesus. As he taught through the book of Romans, still trembling when the word “justice” would surface, he discovered his freedom in Romans 1:17 where it says the just will live by his faith.

The Scriptures led him to his freedom, but they also led him to a significant battleground—the Bible, and not the pope, nor the councils as the sole authority for every sinful person seeking salvation.

Here also is our battleground—the authority of Scripture.

The Word of God has always been challenged. Even in the earliest days, in the Garden of Eden, Satan dared to contend with God’s Word. In 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul instructs his young disciple to hold fast to the Word of God. In chapter 3, Paul describes a world that looks like our own—lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers and the like. Still, Timothy was to be different and this difference was brought about by God’s Holy Scriptures. Paul called on Timothy to be a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3), and we as the church must be good soldiers as well. The church that stands firm on the Word of God is a mighty weapon in the hand of God. 

In the spring of 1521, Martin Luther received a summons from emperor Charles V to account for his numerous writings and teachings at an imperial assembly in Worms, Germany. Luther stood trial and was called on to denounce his works.

This was his reply: “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

The Lord is looking for a people who will stand firm on His Word; a people who will live by the unpopular belief that it is the truth and demands our total obedience; a people who will not compromise, but instead find themselves complete and equipped to do the work He has prepared for them. We must surrender to God’s Word, not as a book of suggestions or good advice, but as words spoken from the very mouth of God. Those who live by the Bible are mighty weapons in the hand of God against the enemy. We often call ourselves “People of the Book,” but if we abide by this book, we could rightly admit that “We are the people of God.”

We must be like the person in Psalm 1 who meditates on the Word of God day and night. Let it be your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let it be your joy in your sorrow, your strength in your weakness, your boldness in your fear, and your sword in your conflict. If you want to be used by God, then you must first surrender to His Word. Though it inflicts wounds, it also provides the ointment for healing. Though it brings brokenness and grieving, it provides wisdom for repentance and restoration. While the world deceives and is deceived, we can have full confidence in God’s Word because every Scripture is inspired by Him, and He will never lead us astray.

—This column first appeared on Baptist Press (

REVIEW: “Only The Brave” is a wonderful story, but it”s not family-friendly

Eric Marsh is a 40-something Arizona man who wants only one thing in life: to fight wildfires. But he doesn’t want to be a member of just any firefighting crew. He wants to be part of a “hotshot” team – those elite-and-talented 20-member crews that regularly risk their lives to stop wildfires in their tracks.  

Marsh trained months and months for this role, and he finally got his chance when the mayor and city council agreed to fund a crew that Marsh will head. If they gel as a team and then get certified, they will become one of only about 100 hotshot crews in the nation — and they will be responsible for protecting their hometown, too.

It’s the true story behind Only The Brave (PG-13), which is currently in theaters and recounts the inspiring-but-tragic story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, who defied the odds to get certified and then fought valiantly against an out-of-control 2013 wildfire that claimed 19 lives.

It stars Josh Brolin as Marsh; Jennifer Connelly as his wife, Amanda; Miles Teller as his crewmate, Brendan McDonough; and Jeff Bridges as his mentor, Duane Steinbrink.

Only The Brave is a biopic unlike any I have seen. Even though I knew how it would end, I cried like a baby the final five minutes. It spotlights the traditional family in ways that most PG-13 films don’t, and it even has a pro-life angle. The amazing special effects – which make you feel as if you’re in the middle of a fire — don’t get in the way of the story.

That said, this one has quite a bit of coarse language. Let’s examine the details:

Warning: spoilers!  


Moderate. We see people, within town, running from an approaching fire. Yet the Granite Mountain Boys run toward the fire – and often find themselves in dangerous situations. It’s incredible (and intense) to watch. Later, Marsh violently breaks an office chair after he gets upset. We see a car crash. Finally, a group of firefighters dies in a wildfire, although we don’t see it occur. We do, though, see family members cry as they await word on their loved ones.


Moderate. Marsh and his wife kiss a couple of times. We see them relaxing in a large bathtub together, but only from the shoulders-up. We hear crude sex talk from one of the members (“hooked up,” etc.) and we see a picture of a scantily dressed girl. Later in the film, though, this same crew member has matured and has a different outlook on women.

Coarse Language

Extreme. I counted about 70 coarse words: s—t (30); a— (15); pi-s (3); OMG (1); GD (5); d—n (7); he—(3) misuse of “God” (1); b—ch (3); misuse of “Lord” (1); JC (1); f-word (2); misuse of “Jesus” (1). There also are at least two instances of firefighters jokingly giving the middle finger.

Other Positive Elements

Despite the coarse language, Only The Brave has a remarkably pro-family theme, as the members prioritize their wives and kids as much as their crazy schedule will allow. We see a firefighter kiss his children before he gets in the truck to leave. Later, we see another hotshot member reading “Good Night Moon” to his child over the phone.

Perhaps the most remarkable family angle involves Brendan, who transforms from unemployed pot smoker to responsible hotshot – all so what he can take care of a baby girl he fathered out of wedlock. The mom chose to keep the baby but initially didn’t want him involved. He places diapers and formula outside the mom’s front door. Eventually, he and the mom get back together, and he becomes a loving father.

We also see a character read the Bible on multiple occasions and briefly discuss it with others.   

Other Negative Elements

We see Brendan smoke marijuana.

Life Lessons

Only The Brave gives us powerful lessons on self-sacrifice (the entire team), brotherhood (the entire team), redemption (Brendan) and responsibility and manhood (Brendan).   


I don’t know how many of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were Christian, but their actions reflect what Scripture teaches. Jesus told us, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Paul added, “Count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Of course, the hotshots also were fulfilling one of government’s God-given roles (protecting its citizens), but consider what society would be like without first responders. We would have no police, no ambulances, no firefighters, no hotshots. And society would crumble.  


This one has too much coarse language. It’s not family-friendly.

What I Liked

The way the story and the special effects were woven together (take note, Hollywood). I also liked the family-centric nature of most of the characters.

What I Didn’t Like

The excessive language. I didn’t expect a G-movie, but a count of 70 is too high. Incidentally, most of the language occurs when the men are not fighting fires.

Discussion Questions

  1. What drives someone to become a hotshot or first responder?
  2. What caused Brendan to stop smoking pot?
  3. Would you consider this a pro-traditional family movie, despite the language?
  4. How would society be different if every man who had a child out of wedlock was like Brendan?

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Only The Brave is rated PG-13 for thematic content, some sexual references, language and drug material.

Clay Road Baptist Church hosted the small disaster relief feeding unit that could¦and did

HOUSTON—The 5,000-meal Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief (DR) feeding unit from Flint, Texas, which deployed to Clay Road Baptist Church in Northwest Houston Aug. 30 to begin mass feeding operations over the Labor Day weekend in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, finally packed up after Columbus Day.

Staffed initially with Flint and other SBTC DR volunteers, the unit under the overall direction of Ralph Britt was manned by volunteers from Texas, South Carolina and New Mexico Baptist Relief, who cooked food provided and distributed by the Red Cross.

“Meals went to eight different places, carried in Red Cross ERVs [emergency response vehicles],” unit director Kathy Pennington of Artesia, New Mexico, told the TEXAN, explaining that Red Cross volunteers drove through surrounding neighborhoods, handing out the hot meals.

As of Friday, Oct. 6, the unit was still preparing 3,450 lunches and dinners per day.

The feeding unit operated at capacity for more than a month, cranking out 176,000 meals by the end of the deployment.

“We’ve learned a lot from Harvey. Katrina, Rita and Ike were the models. Harvey changed all that,” Britt said, noting the massive scope of the storm which affected widely scattered “pockets” of damage and called for extensive help from DR units from other states.

“At the end of the day, we in New Mexico know that, if we need help, Texas has our back,” said DR volunteer Eric Larson, pastor of Jemez Mountain Baptist Church in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, praising Britt’s team for the smooth transition between groups from Texas and other states manning the feeding unit.

Brownsville church’s mass feeding unit made 70,000-plus meals after Harvey

SBTC Feeding Unit in Louisiana

CORPUS CHRISTI—Chad Bender, a third-grade teacher at Harlingen’s Treasure Hills Elementary, didn’t miss a day of school last year, qualifying him for a year-end bonus.

After Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas Gulf Coast, Bender, also a disaster relief volunteer with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, decided not to go for perfect attendance this year. Instead, he deployed to Corpus Christi with First Baptist Brownsville’s mass feeding unit.

Bender, who served locally with his church’s unit when a 2014 influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas-Mexico border caused a humanitarian crisis, saw the need for experienced volunteers in Harvey’s immediate aftermath.

“I knew how much work it took to set up … I prayed about it. My wife said, ‘If you think you should go, take the whole week,’” Bender said.

He emailed his school administrator who responded quickly that the superintendent would have to approve a weeklong absence.

Less than 24 hours later, on a Sunday, Bender received permission to go from Dr. Arturo Cavazos, Harlingen ISD’s superintendent.

“I work for an amazing district,” Bender said.

Bender also praised his team of six other third-grade teachers who encouraged him to deploy, even though it was only the second week of school.

Terry Roberts, First Baptist Brownsville associate minister, said about 30 church members participated in the three-week deployment. The church’s water purification trailer and two mass feeding units were set up at Annaville Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, where volunteers prepared more than 70,000 meals distributed by the Red Cross to Rockport, Port Aransas and other Gulf communities.

“This is the first major deployment we have had with these units,” Roberts said, explaining that the Brownsville equipment, onsite since 2008’s Hurricane Dolly, was purchased with funds the SBTC provided.

Brownsville is “one of the poorest cities in the poorest county in the U.S.,” Roberts said, adding that the church possesses “more manpower than resources.” Volunteers who came from other states and across Texas were crucial.

Roberts lauded all volunteers they worked alongside, including 22 from the Mississippi Baptist Convention who “gave us a shot in the arm when we needed it” in mid-deployment.

Roberts, Bender and associate minister Armando Hernandez likewise praised Annaville Baptist Church members, who not only prepared meals for DR volunteers but also provided sleeping quarters at the church.

Texas volunteers who joined the effort also included Jim and Jane Barton of First Baptist Church in The Colony, who marked their 10th and ninth DR deployments, respectively.

Jane was sidelined by a life-threatening ruptured aorta in 2009 but has recovered, Jim said.

Accompanying the Bartons from The Colony were two first-time DR volunteers—retiree Jenny Seay and Brian Jones, a Kroger employee who used vacation and personal days to deploy.

Jones praised his boss who granted him time off before he could even finish asking.

“It means the world to me,” said Jones of the opportunity to serve with the feeding team, adding that his DR experience will hopefully help him influence students at his church.

“I get to teach them what I do on the mission field and show them what they can do to help people in need,” Jones said, noting that his grocery store work helped him as a mass feeding volunteer.

Jeremy Knight, First Baptist Brownsville associate pastor who is transitioning to oversee the church’s DR program, called Jones “an artist with the pallet jack” as he and others tackled the complicated unloading of refrigerated trailers.

Knight said First Baptist Brownsville aims to get more members involved so that when disaster strikes, the trailers can rapidly deploy until reinforcements arrive.

Hernandez, 27, a veteran of a mud-out deployment to Nepal two years ago and on his first feeding deployment at Corpus, called it “humbling” to see “older men, most over the age of 70, working not just for free but with intensity, and for no other reason than they feel they have a calling from God to serve.”

Bender returned to Corpus to prepare the final meals and pack up the trailers at the close of the deployment Sept. 17. As rain fell, he chatted with some college-age Red Cross volunteers.

Bender asked the students why they had come, and then he asked them what they believed motivated the yellow-hatted workers who were there.

“Why do you think people leave a comfortable home to do this?” Bender asked. “The average age is over 70. They are sleeping on air mattresses in the gym.”

Most responded that the DR volunteers wanted to help people.

“What motivates you? Why are you here?” Bender asked a Baptist volunteer walking by.

“The love of Christ. I want to share it,” the man replied.

Nassau Bay Baptist and area churches feed Hurricane Harvey hotel evacuees

Seabrook—A random conversation between Melissa del Flora and a Harvey evacuee resulted in del Flora’s organizing food to feed 40 rooms full of displaced persons lodging at the Seabrook Quality Inn in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

After a month of arranging the meals, del Flora needed help and heard of Nassau Bay Baptist Church.

“Food would show up and drinks would come. She [del Flora] winged it for a month and got tired,” Dana Rust of Nassau Bay Baptist explained, calling herself “a freelance volunteer.”

Del Flora contacted Susan Bumpas, Nassau Bay director of preschool and children’s ministries. Susan and her husband, Bill, a Southern Baptists of Texas Convention media consultant, knew that Arkansas and Arizona disaster relief teams were feeding mud-out volunteers staying at University Baptist Church in the Clear Lake area.

The DR groups readily agreed to prepare meals for the families occupying 40 rooms at the Quality Inn, up to 100 meals per day, Bill Bumpas said.

Rust began organizing the delivery of the meals by Nassau Bay members and volunteers from other churches.

Rust and Bumpas both praised the Quality Inn’s manager, Moses Retiwala, for facilitating the feeding by allowing the church group to use the hotel’s dining room.

Retiwala, a Muslim from the Indian state of Gujarat who has lived in Texas 17 years, told the TEXAN he was glad his hotel could house the evacuees. Retiwala said he had gone to secondary school in India with Muslims, Farsi, Hindi and Christian friends, adding, “We grew up like a family. Today we live all over the world and are still good friends.”

“The families have been so thankful,” Bumpas added. “Many were overwhelmed when they heard folks from Arizona and Arkansas had cooked the meals for them. Many wanted to know why we were doing this for them. We were able to tell them that God had not forgotten them and there were people that love and care for them.”

When the Houston Downtown Food Bank sent 10 pallets of tuna, applesauce, candy bars, Pringles, soaps, body washes, MREs (meals ready to eat), Rust and volunteers packed them in boxes to distribute to other area hotels full of evacuees over the weekend of Oct. 7.

“Our church is grateful that God opened up this door of opportunity for us. This is just another example of how God has used our church following the storm.  We used our gym as a distribution center and ministered to hundreds of families that way. We also sent teams to help clear out flooded homes,” Bumpas said.

“We [at Nassau Bay] are not alone. Other churches have helped them out and have done what we are doing, found a hotel and tried to help them out,” Rust added.

The church provided meals through Oct. 10, when FEMA funds for the hotel lodgers ran out.

SWBTS trustees elect Trawick as institutional advancement VP

FORT WORTH  Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees elected Travis Trawick to serve as vice president of institutional advancement, promoted two professors and named two other faculty members to occupy academic chairs in their Oct. 18 meeting prior to the dedication of Mathena Hall.

Trawick will begin leading institutional advancement in January, replacing Mike Hughes who has served in the role since 2006. Hughes has been named chairman of the Harold E. Riley Foundation, but will remain available to the department as a special assistant to the president.

A native of Florida, Trawick served in student ministry in Tallahassee and Arcadia before enrolling at Southwestern Seminary, where he worked in the school’s donor relations, managed technology and became a development officer and associate vice president for the department.

He earned a B.S. degree in information science with a minor in business from Florida State University and the M.Div. degree at Southwestern Seminary. He expects to receive his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a minor in preaching next year.

Assistant professor Keith L. Loftin was promoted to associate professor of philosophy and humanities, while missions professor Daniel Sanchez was named distinguished professor of missions. Dean Sieberhagen will occupy the Vernon D. and Jeannette Davidson Chair of Missions, and Matthew Harrison will assume the Jack D. and Barbara Terry Chair of Religious Education.

Trustees welcomed SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page, who participated in the dedication festivities and thanked board members for serving as “custodians of a great trust,” reminding them they represent the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Since 1928, Southwestern has received $372,612,792, which makes the Cooperative Program, by far, the largest single donor you’ve ever had,” Page shared. “That brings a sense of gratitude, but also a sense of stewardship.”

In his report to the board, Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson addressed three recommendations that trustees approved, including three appointments to the faculty of the partner seminary in Bonn, Germany, with no financial obligation required. He addressed a proposed response to a motion referred to all Southern Baptist Convention entities requesting easy access to trustee contact information. The board noted the continued practice of listing trustee addresses in the annual report of the SBC that is available online, finding that sufficiently accessible.

After trustees approved his final recommendation of future meeting dates through 2023, Patterson quipped that he would not be available for the board meeting in 2023, adding, “I’ll be praying for you either from heaven or some hunting location in Africa.”

In other business, the board:

  • approved next year’s B. H. Carroll and L. R. Scarborough award recipients,
  • accepted graduates for December commencement as approved by the faculty and registrar, 
  • received and approved the audited financial statements,
  • continued the use of Guinn, Smith & Company to conduct annual audits through 2020, 
  • updated a financial records retention policy to reflect changes requested by administration, and
  • heard a committee request that Strategic Initiatives Vice President Charles Patrick develop a new social media policy for the board to review in their spring meeting.  

AdvanceNow & NextGen Pastors Network events to address pastoral ministry, racial reconciliation

DALLAS  A panel discussion on “Christ, Culture & Color” will address the role of churches in racial reconciliation during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Nov. 14. The discussion and dinner sponsored by SBTC’s AdvanceNow will take place from 5:00–6:15 p.m. in Horner Hall at Criswell College in Dallas. 

Panel members include pastors Juan Sanchez of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Dante Wright of Sweet Home The Pinnacle of Praise Church in Roundrock and Nathan Lino of Northeast Houston Baptist Church, and the discussion will be moderated by SBTC Evangelism Director Shane Pruitt and evangelism associate Richard Taylor. Cost is $10 per person and can be purchased online.

Pastors age 40 and under and their wives are invited to the NextGen Roundtable & Reception on Monday, Nov. 13. The roundtable will take place in Horner Hall from 3:30–4:45 p.m. with Russ Barksdale, Jimmy Draper, Chris Osborne, Danny Forshee, Nathan Lino, David Galvan and Barry Creamer. The dinner reception will be located in the Library second floor stacks and will feature a panel discussion. The event is free, but participants must register online. 

Register for the events at, click on “Meals & Events.” 

Fellowships to meet in connection with SBTC annual meeting in Dallas

DALLAS Several groups will gather in connection with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting at Criswell College in Dallas, including a pre-convention Spanish session on Sunday, Nov. 12 at Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, located at 2626 Gus Thomasson Road in Dallas.

Luis Lopez, associate director of missions and ethnic work for Robertson County Baptist Association in Tennessee will be the keynote speaker. A native of Venezuela, Lopez formerly directed LifeWay Español church resources. Music will be provided by the local Nueva Vida praise team.

Also on Sunday night, the African-American Fellowship will meet at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church from 5:30–8:30 p.m. Keystone Fellowship pastor Damon Halliday will speak, and his church’s praise team will lead in a time of musical worship. 

The Asian Ministry Fellowship Dinner begins at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 13, meeting in E-207 of Criswell College. Thomas Wang, pastor of New Life Gospel Church in Lewisville will speak, with worship led by Ariel Tolentino of Mosaic Fellowship Church in Grand Prairie. Cost for the dinner is $10 per person, and attendees must register online.

On Tuesday, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will host an alumni breakfast at 7:30 a.m. in Horner Hall, and alumni of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will meet in E-207 at 7:30 a.m. 

A come-and-go breakfast reception will be offered for Criswell College alumni Tuesday morning from 8–9 a.m. in the offices of the president and advancement.

9Marks Ministries will host their annual 9Marks at 9 panel discussion on Tuesday, from 9–10 p.m. in Horner Hall.

Registration for  meals can be accessed at, click on “Meals & Events.” 

Mathena Hall honors gospel legacy of pastors, evangelists and missionaries

FORT WORTH Even before entering the newest building on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the sidewalk tells the stories of 25 Southern Baptist missionaries who died for their faith. Displayed along the Martyrs’ Walk are the images and testimonies of each person, conveying the serious commitment expected of those who follow a call to ministry.

Home to the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, the L. R. Scarborough College and the Richard D. Land Center for Cultural Engagement, Mathena Hall features flexible smart classrooms, faculty offices, and conference rooms decorated with stories and mementoes to represent the priorities of pastors, evangelists and missionaries who first served in the context of local church ministry.

Harold Mathena and his wife, Patricia, members of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, gave the $12 million lead gift to launch the project. Mathena was relatively poor in his early years, working as a roughneck in the oil industry and later serving in the pastorate. The oil industry manufacturing company he began to support his evangelistic ministry was sold in 2012 for $200 million which he tithed to his local church, consistent with stewardship principles he practiced all his life.

“It’s an amazing thing…that a cotton-picker from East Texas would be able to participate in such an endeavor as this; to join so many of you in accomplishing so much,” Mathena told a chapel audience Oct. 18. “It is nothing short of miraculous.”

Those funding partners were rallied by Southwestern Seminary First Lady Dorothy Patterson, whose efforts provided significant contributions to offer homages to the legacies of past and current ministers of the gospel. As current students train for future ministry, they are being challenged to learn from the examples of men and women who came before them, and go into the world to join the legacy of spreading the message of Christ.

As the ribbon-cutting crowd began touring the building, the reconstructed home of missionary Lottie Moon from Pingtu, China, took center stage on the first floor. A familiar name to Southern Baptists who annually have given to an international missions offering in her name since 1918, Moon won the respect of the Chinese people in the 1800s when she served much of her 40-year tenure alone in a patriarchal society that failed to value women. 

The tile shingles from her house, some of Moon’s furniture, letters she wrote appealing for more workers and even a tea cookie recipe left visitors like June Richards of Keller, practically speechless. Short on words, she took to Twitter to show the scene.

“Amazing—tears are in my eyes. Thank you @swbts! I will be back!” she wrote, telling the TEXAN she intends to take all of her grandchildren through every inch of the house. 

Hearing a video of medical missionary Rebekah Naylor impersonating the missionary to China, Richards said, “I thank the Lord for allowing them to get this together so that we could look back on the legacy just as they used to put stones out to remember someone.” 

Southwestern Seminary trustee chairman Kevin Ueckert of Georgetown prayed that many would come to Christ because of the call of the Lord on the lives of “men and women preparing to preach the Word and go into the world with the gospel.”