President Jeff Iorg charged spring graduates of Gateway Seminary to share the gospel with everyone they encounter as the sweet aroma of a triumphant Lord.
Some aromas evoke positive emotions, Iorg said, recalling playing baseball as a boy in the shadow of huge commercial bakery. “Baseball and the smell of fresh bread go together and bring back many happy memories,” he said.
Photo by Caleb Stallings
Gateway graduate Christian Lopez, in a commencement testimony May 18, enjoyed “the diversity of the students, where a senior pastor sits on my left and a missionary off the field is on my right.”
“Our sense of smell is profound. That’s why God used it as an analogy to communicate something powerful about our role in sharing the gospel,” Iorg said.
Speaking from 2 Corinthians 2, Iorg charged the graduates, “Tonight, we commission you as the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ sharing the Good News of our triumphant Lord. Like a generous diffuser, you must share the gospel indiscriminately with as many people as possible.”
Sharing the gospel “is not about you getting accolades,” Iorg said. “It’s about being faithful to the Lord and His gospel. It’s not about you. It’s about the message – and getting it to as many people as possible, no matter who gets the credit.”
Ninety graduates received diplomas and degrees at the spring commencement May 18 at Friendship Baptist Church in Yorba Linda, Calif. The service was the third of five for Gateway Seminary students including the Pacific Northwest Campus in Vancouver, Wash., on May 11; the Rocky Mountain Campus in Centennial, Colo., on May 12; the San Francisco Campus in Fremont, Calif., on May 19. The final ceremony will be at the Arizona Campus in Scottsdale on May 26. In all, Iorg will have conferred 194 diplomas and degrees during those services.
In a student testimony, Christian Lopez of California, who received a master of divinity degree, testified to being an atheist as a senior in high school. He connected with a church youth group and youth pastor who patiently answered his questions about religion and faith. Lopez later accepted the challenge to read the Bible – and read it all the way through. That experience led him to faith in Jesus. When he continued to ask many questions about faith and the Bible, his pastor encouraged him to consider seminary.
“I didn’t know what seminary was, but the pastor paid for me to visit Gateway,” Lopez said. “I eventually enrolled, and I’ve loved my experience here. I have enjoyed the diversity of the students, where a senior pastor sits on my left and a missionary off the field is on my right. I also am grateful you can become real friends with the professors.”
Another student, Carola Manriquez of Chile, received a master of arts in intercultural studies. As a child, she was on Gateway’s former Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary campus in Mill Valley, Calif., as her dad attended classes. Being raised in a minister’s home, she has come full circle and discovered her own calling through Gateway.
“There are plenty of labels placed on me: Latina, minority, woman, student. At Gateway, I learned the label of God for my life: cultural mediator. I am a third culture kid who sits in the middle. My role is helping people in other cultures understand things, to be a resource to do what God has called them to do, to help them find beauty in their birthplace, and to redeem their culture. That is my heart song.”
Iorg presented the William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award to Wuttichai Victor Chayasirisobhon, senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim, chief administrator of the Discovery Christian School and first vice president of the California Southern Baptist Convention. The Crews award recognizes a graduate who has significant leadership potential, particularly for pastoral or denominational service. Chayasirisobhon received both the master of intercultural studies and doctor of ministry degrees. He has now earned 10 academic degrees having first trained as a physician before committing himself to pastoral leadership.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kathie Chute is director of communications for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.)