Seminarians Engage Theological Education Through Travel Abroad in Greece & Indonesia
By: Kristen Harris
Editor: James Stone
Published in: “The Logsdon Window” ed. Winter 2010.
Theological education took on a global flavor for students at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary and Logsdon School of Theology this summer as 16 undergraduate and seminary students participated in travel courses to Indonesia and Greece.
The summer trips were part of Hardin-Simmons University’s Study Abroad program,and allowed students to earn course credit while experiencing firsthand the realities oflife and faith outside the sometimes sheltered context of North America.
“Whenever I got into Indonesia,” said Travis Adams, a Logsdon Seminary Master of Divinity student and Youth Minister at First Baptist Church Hawley, Texas, “I realized I had completely underestimated the complexity of humanity. It was important for me to realize that we need to be open and receptive to differences among people.”
While in Indonesia, students observed the work of missionaries from different organizations, participated in hands on service projects, cooperated with United Nations community development organizations, attended conferences on interreligious dialogue, and gained a firsthand awareness of the cultural and historical context of the region.
“Obviously to take someone into another culture and have them smell the smells and see the sights and hear the sounds…you can’t duplicate that in the classroom,” said Dr. Rob Sellers, Professor of Missions Ministry and Connally Chair of Missions for Logsdon Seminary. Sellers taught two classes during the three-week Indonesian journey.
Halfway around the world, a different group of Logsdon students were engaged in personal dialogue and faith exploration with members of the global village in Greece. Led by Dr. Bill Tillman, T. B. Maston Professor of Christian Ethics and Dr. Kenneth Lyle Jr., Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek for Logsdon Seminary, the trip to Greece allowed undergraduate and seminary students to experience multiple opportunities for participation in mission efforts, including ministry to women in a prostitution outreach program, preparation and service of dinner for lowincome residents of Athens, and work at a community center for Albanians run by CBF Missionaries Bob and Janice Newell.
In addition to the heavy emphasis on mission service, two courses were taught, one exploring the events and locations referenced within the Pauline Epistles, and the other evaluating the impact of contextual ministry approaches as observed in current Athenian ministries.
While these trips allowed students to engage theological education and missions from a different perspective, the global exposure they offered was not without local ministry impact. “Christ knows us not as numbers but by our names,” said Joseph Barrett, Master of Divinity Student at Logsdon Seminary and Pastor of First Baptist Church in Rochester, Texas, who noted how the refreshingly unapologetic social ministry practiced by missionaries in Greece challenged him to assess how concern for the individual in his own ministry setting is often approached.
As a result of his studies in Indonesia, Adams was also inspired to examine how the arts might help him build better relationships with the adolescents he serves.
“When I went to Indonesia, I think one of the things that really drew me in was the manner in which they communicated their values, the way they communicated their culture, was primarily through stories, symbols and art. I can see different ways now I can communicate ideas with my students and church,” said Adams of the take-home impact of the Indonesian trip for his ministry.
Since 2000, Logsdon Seminary has provided ministry students the opportunity to engage handson theological education through travel courses to Eastern and Western Europe, Africa and South America. This year’s trips to Indonesia and Greece add to a growing list of international study opportunities offered to Logsdon students.
“I’m so thankful that I had this experience because things just don’t seem real until you are thrust right into the center of it all,” said HSU Freshman Emma Lyle of her first visit to Greece. “Sure, the Parthenon and Corinth were amazing…but it was more amazing doing something I feel like Paul himself would have been involved in – missions that are needed here and now.”
For more information on international study and theological education, contact Logsdon at 325-670-5841 or visit www.logsdonseminary.org