Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, kindly contributed the following article to the blog. Dr. Akin’s ministry is characterized by his valiant defense of right doctrine. Commenting on the effort to rid the Southern Baptist Convention of heretical factions he said, “The battle for the Bible and God’s truth never ends.” Despite his incredible responsibilities and impressive list of accomplishments, Dr. Akin has always made his family a priority. Today, each of his four sons are involved in Christian ministry. Even though he is a brilliant man, the leader of a seminary, and the author of numerous books, Akin is no ivory-tower scholar. His passion for missions is exciting and contagious. He said, “I want Southeastern to be known as the Great Commission Seminary. I want it to be a seminary that has figured out how to wed the head and the heart in fulfilling the Great Commission.” In keeping with that theme, Dr. Akin has written the following article for the blog: “Why I Am Passionate for a Great Commission Resurgence among God’s People.”
In late April/early May my wife and I joined a number of other believers on a mission trip to the Southern Sudan. We would be in an area of extreme poverty with no running water or electricity. It was hot and the conditions were, to say the least, Spartan. However, it was one of the most rewarding mission endeavors we have ever taken. More than 1650 persons from the Congo, Uganda and Sudan converged on a small city in the southern part of the country for a Bible conference, church planting and evangelism. Virtually all of them walked most or all the way. Some walked a week to get there, spend each night on a mat outdoors, and then walked another week back home. God blessed greatly! We trained hundreds of pastors and also saw more than 170 people baptized!
There are so many things that I could share about this time in Sudan. However, one story in particular stands out that has only increased my intensity to see a Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) take place among God’s people here in America. Charlotte and I had the joy of meeting and assisting a man called Pastor Sam. Sam is a church planter who has already baptized more than 30 new believers in the church that was started back in May. The church meets under 3 mango trees out among the villages. Sam came to the Lord as a teenager. Tragically, at the age of 12, he saw his father, mother and brothers and sisters hacked to death with machetes by a cultic tribe in Uganda. In God’s grace he was spared, and he was led to a Christian family where he met the Lord. Later, he felt God’s call to be a pastor. For the past 2 years he has studied in a small Bible institute in Sudan. Now, he is a pastor. Sam owns only 2 sets of clothes and a pair of sandals. The only book he has is a Bible. However, I have seldom met anyone who had more of the joy of the Lord Jesus in his heart than this man. As our team was leaving, we wanted to be a blessing to Sam. So, we got together and determined that we would give him what he needed most. We gathered around him, laid hands on him and prayed. Then, we told him that we had purchased for him 2 ox, a plow and enough seed for him to plow the land adjacent to his church to provide for himself and others who would become a part of his fellowship. Several others of us were moved to provide additional funds for him to build his tukel, the hut in which he now lives.
As we left the Sudan, once more a riveting truth griped my heart. Those that have Jesus plus nothing actually have everything. On the other hand, those who have everything minus Jesus actually have nothing. Sam has Jesus and so he has everything!
One final word. As we went village to village sharing the gospel, not one time were we turned down! I am not saying that everyone trusted Christ. They did not. However, no one declined the invitation to hear about the Lord Jesus. Truly, as Jesus said, the fields are ripe unto harvest. Oswald Smith said, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice while there remains so many who have never heard it once.” I am in agreement with him. There are literally millions and millions who have never heard the name of Jesus but who will listen to our presentation of the gospel if we go to them. Many will respond in saving faith if only they hear the good news.
It is time for Christians in America to get serious about the Great Commission. It is time to be “radical!” Pitiful excuses that are myopic and territorial need to cease. There needs to be genuine repentance and brokenness over a callous heart that has grown cold to the masses who have never heard the gospel and who have no access to it. Such a movement must begin one by one with each one of us. It will begin in individual hearts. I am praying that this passion will grip my heart and soul now and until the day I stand before the Lord Jesus and give an account for the life that He gave me. Like my friend John Piper, I do not want to leave a wasted life. I hope you don’t either!