Editor’s Note: The following is a transcript of greetings given by Heinrich Derksen, president of Bibelseminar Bonn (BSB) in Bonn, Germany, during the MacGorman Chapel dedication service at Southwestern Seminary, Dec. 1. Southwestern partners with BSB to provide master’s degrees to students in Germany. Read more about this partnership in Southwestern News Magazine.
Dear Dr. Patterson, dear Southwestern family, dear Southern Baptists,
Congratulations on this new chapel, which opens a new chapter in the history of this school.
What an honor and a pleasure for me and my wife Rita to be with you on this day and to bring greetings from your partner school, Bible Seminary Bonn in Germany. We got to know each other when you had just become the president of Southwestern. I felt from the very beginning that this was a divine appointment. Your passion for reaching lost people, even in Old Europe, as a professor and as president of a theological seminary was very encouraging to me. In Germany, we are lucky if some of our theologians are even believers. Christianity in Europe is dying. We are living in the midst of a spiritual depression and darkness. Therefore, this partnership was so essential to us.
You have brought light, hope and joy with a lot of blessings to Germany and especially to the Russian-German evangelical conservative movement. In the last 25 years, 2.5 million Germans have moved back to Germany from Russia. Among these people, we have established about 500 churches with more than 130,000 members. Bible Seminary Bonn was founded in 1993 to train future church planters, pastors, and missionaries and is still one of the youngest seminaries in Germany, but – praise God – it is today one of the largest with about 300 students. When we established this partnership in 2005, I was criticized by liberal German Baptists. They tried hard to convince me that this was not the partnership we needed in Germany. But I knew that we do need this kind of spiritual and economical support.
Thank you, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson for believing and trusting in us. Thank you for all your personal support and your encouragement. There were times when I wanted to give up, but through your spiritual mentorship, I was able to succeed. Many pastors have received a fresh spiritual breath by coming to Southwestern during their sabbatical. You have helped to arrange pastor´s conferences in Germany with thousands of participants and many of them have experienced spiritual revival through your teaching and preaching. Dozens of pastors, who are serving in Germany today, got their training either through our mutual program in Bonn or through having the privilege to study here in the States at Southwestern. Even today, in this room, many German students are sitting here and are honored to be a part of the Southwestern body.
Dr. and Mrs. Patterson there is no doubt about this: Your impact on Russian-German churches and leaders is bigger than you can ever imagine and will last for generations. Heaven and Earth won’t forget what you have done for us. And I am here as their voice to say: Thank you and please continue this partnership!
I also want to add a word of thanks to you the provost, Dr. Blaising, and to your faculty who is teaching our students in Germany. Thank you for coming and helping us. I don’t want to forget to thank all Southern Baptists. I would also like to mention Dr. Frank Page who is here today as their representative.
Thank you for investing your time, your energy, and even your money to build up a new, young, Bible-believing generation who is willing to take the task. Martin Luther brought the Bible back to the people. Today we have to bring the people back to the Bible.
Our gift to the President is an unique clock from the city of Bornheim. It depicts the most impressive building in our city as well as Haus Witgenstein, the main building at Bible Seminary Bonn. As we present this gift to you, I also want to express the joy in my heart for a fruitful partnership with you and with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. May this gift always remind you of your friend and co-worker in ministry at Bibelseminar Bonn and of the time our Lord has granted us to fulfill His mission to reach people for Christ and to shape leaders that follow Him faithfully.