More than 130 students and four faculty members from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) are preparing to go serve the city of Baltimore.
Crossover Baltimore is a weeklong mission (June 1-7) of intense personal witnessing in Baltimore, Md., the week prior to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting June 10-11.
Stephen Eccher, assistant professor of church history and reformation studies at Southeastern, is originally from the Baltimore area and a leader for the mission.
“Despite the governmentally subsidized external veneer of economic advancement, cultural awareness and historical preservation, Baltimore maintains a poverty-stricken reality, complete with all the trappings of such an oppressed environment,” he said.
SEBTS students are eager to partner with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to reach one of its 32 Send cities. According to NAMB, 2,729,110 people live in metro Baltimore and 9.9 percent are affiliated with an evangelical church.
“A city once known as one of the most dangerous cities in the nation remains trapped in its past,” Eccher said. “Into that seemingly enslaved culture, students from SEBTS are preparing to bring the freeing gospel of Jesus Christ to the city; to support church planters already laboring to advance Christ’s Kingdom.”
A highlight of the pre-trip training was an evening of prayer held on May 2. Approximately 65 students and faculty members attended the vigil.
Scott Hildreth, director of the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern, said, “We have a very missional summer planned but we know that success does not depend on our skills and talent; it depends on God.”
The seminary community joined together to pray for spiritual awakening on the campus and around the world. A focus of the prayer was on students and faculty participating in the Baltimore mission trip.
“When Dr. [Alvin] Reid and I saw the number of students signing up for Crossover Baltimore, we felt compelled to do something more,” Hildreth said.
Chuck Lawless, vice-president of graduate studies and ministry centers at SEBTS, supported and attended the event. “I am deeply mindful of the fact that most seminaries do far too little in calling the community to prayer or even teaching students to pray,” he said.
Students gathered to seek the Lord for personal renewal and then to pray for their churches, city, state, nation and the lost around the world. “We long to see the Lord do something on our campus that cannot be explained by our planning, organization and effort,” Hildreth emphasized. “We are praying that this is the beginning of a spiritual awakening on our campus.”
For additional information about Crossover Baltimore, go to: http://embracebaltimore.com/crossover/.