Divinity commissioning service celebrates new students who said “Yes, Lord!”

September 17, 2013 | Leave a Comment

Divinity commissioning service celebrates new students who said “Yes, Lord!”
Among the 38 Divinity School students who were commissioned Tuesday were, clockwise from top left, Marvin Ownley '13, Lakisha Basnight, Amber Wilkins '13, Jackson Adamah and Betsy Newsome.  

BUIES CREEK-- Jackson Adamah said, “Yes, Lord!” Lakisha Basnight did, too. And so did Betsy Newsome and Marvin Ownley ’13 and Amber Wilkins ’13 -- and the 33 other new master’s and doctoral students in the Campbell Divinity School who were recognized Tuesday in Butler Chapel for pursuing their call to serve the church and God in ministry during A Service of Convocation and Commissioning.

In his Charge to the Students, the Rev. David S. Elks ’88 said the Divinity School’s six new Doctor of Ministry students and 32 new Master of Divinity and Master of Christian Ministry students ended up at Campbell because they responded faithfully when they heard God’s voice. “For while they are young and have many books to read and papers to write, they are here because God believes in them enough to call their names and they believe in God enough to say, ‘Yes, Lord!’” said Elks, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lumberton, N.C.

During the service, to mark the beginning of their studies at Campbell, each of the new students in the master's programs received a pin in the shape of a Celtic cross that’s accented with the royal colors of Jesus. The pin also symbolizes the Divinity School’s commitment to providing a Christ-centered, Bible-based and ministry-focused theological education.

As the new students work their way through their studies and enter the ministry, Elks said their purpose will ultimately be to encourage others to do as they’ve done: Say “Yes, Lord!.”

“I know you (students) have great dreams. You have your dreams of changing the world, so the idea of ministry as no more than helping another person say ‘Yes, Lord!’ seems to minimalize who we are and what we’re about,” said Elks, who drew on 1 Samuel 3:1-18 for his message. “Perhaps that is so, but let me tell you that helping another person say yes to the Lord’s direction is not as easy as Eli and Samuel make it out to be.

“Not everyone in those pews of yours is interested in saying yes, but there are some who are at such a place in life that they are begging for someone to help them hear and respond to the Lord.”

Campbell.edu spoke to five of the new Master of Divinity students about how they came to say “Yes, Lord!” and ended up at the Campbell Divinity School. The following testimonies were edited from interviews with each of the students.

Jackson Adamah: “God’s grace led me to Campbell”

Hometown: Ghana

Undergraduate college: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

We all start life with our own ambitions and desires. I took my first degree in engineering. But I had my conversion experience in 2003, when I became a born-again Christian. God gave me a desire for His word and for teaching others. Last year, I began to have that deep calling that I needed to get into full-time ministry. In Ghana, there has been the rise of the prosperity gospel, and so many pastors are going that way. I feel led to become a seminary professor and help lead some back to what the Bible says about salvation and God’s purpose for humanity.

It was around November when God’s grace led me to Campbell. I was looking for information about Baptist divinity schools online when I came upon a video about the Campbell Divinity School. That was the first time I had heard about Campbell. I was captured by its mission statement to provide a Christ-centered, Bible-based and ministry-focused theological education. It was unique, and it was exactly what I wanted for my theological studies.

I came to Campbell with the tag “international student” on my file. But when I got to the Divinity School, they removed the tag and made me part of the family. During my short period of stay so far, I’ve come to realize that the Campbell Divinity School is characterized by one word: “family.” Everyone is part of the family here, and everyone is made to feel at home. I’m not afraid to say that I don’t miss home at all.

But after my stay at Campbell, I do plan to return to Ghana and be a seminary professor. I hope when I leave I’m transformed personally and as a minister, and I hope I leave with the tools to go back, make an impact and raise hands up for God’s glory.

Lakisha Basnight: “I felt like I needed to step out on faith”

Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.

Undergraduate college: Elizabeth City State University

I was working at a credit union, and ther was a divine presence. So much was going on at work, and there were so many trials in my life around that time; I felt led to a stewardship ministry.

A lot of times in stewardship ministries or in finances, people think: “Well, I can’t do this. I need a certain amount of money.” But because I was called to a stewardship ministry, I felt like I needed to step out on faith, and I felt like I was being led by the Spirit to do so (and to quit my job and enroll at Campbell) and to prove you don’t need as much money as you think you do. That may sound odd, but I believe that is one of the things that God is using me for: as a testimony to others that as we put our faith in God, He will provide all of our needs and if we trust in Him, we can do anything.

When I came to the Campbell Divinity School’s Open House, I felt that divine presence again. There was a friendliness and a warmth, and it felt like a family. God’s presence of the Holy Spirit was here. I knew, without a doubt, that this was where I supposed to be.

You can’t imagine the blessings I’ve had for being obedient. I’ve felt nothing but peace since I said, “Yes, Lord.”

Betsy Newsome: “I’ve been trying to focus on having a total change of heart”

Hometown: Garner, N.C.

Undergraduate college: N.C. State University

I work at an arts organization in Raleigh, and I work with people who have all different, varying religious views. God told me: “You need to look into your heart more about what you really believe.” I asked: “Where am I going to find that?” Since then, I’ve been trying to focus on having a total change of heart, from one that has a worldly attitude to one that has an attitude for God and a mindset that is focused on God.

I ended up coming to one of Campbell’s Visitation Days. When I left Campbell that day, I was 100 percent sure that Campbell was the right place for me. It was a feeling in my own heart, and it was the people. Anytime I came to campus,  all the faculty, staff and students I’ve interacted with have been true and honest and happy to help. I’ve already found lots of mentors here, and I’m sure there are more hiding in nooks and crannies that I’ll find over the years.

I originally planned to do the dual-degree program between the Divinity School and the School of Education’s counseling department, but I’m holding off on that right now because I felt God speaking to me through the Divinity School. I'm concentrating in chaplaincy and counseling. 

What also drew me to Campbell was that the schedule allows me to continue to work 30 hours a week in Raleigh. I felt my time wasn’t done there at the arts organization either. Campbell has made me feel comfortable working and going to school right now. It’s a good feeling to have direction, and I feel like I’m heading in the right way.

Marvin Ownley ’13: “It was like my life was on a fast forward repeat”

Hometown: Hertford, N.C.

Undergraduate college: Campbell University

I was planning to go to medical school, but I wasn’t getting the reassurance that was what I supposed to do. Then, during Christmas break this past year, I went on a retreat. After one of the morning services, I went to the pastor and asked him to pray for me. I said: “I need direction in my life.” He said: “God wants you to know that His plan is not an option for your life. He already has your heart where He has called you.” He prayed for me; and one day, I heard that voice that said: “I’m going to use you to touch others.”

When I was little, I’d play church, and I’d preach; and when I was 17, I felt called to the ministry, but I didn’t think it was a call to ministry vocationally. Then I heard that voice, and all the Scripture I’ve read and all the things that people have said to me throughout my life—they all made sense. It was like my life was on a fast forward repeat of where things that didn’t make sense now made sense. Over the next month, things lined up and people came into my life who talked to me about Campbell Divinity School.

I did my undergraduate degree at Campbell. So I was familiar with Campbell, but what really brought me to the Campbell Divinity School was their attitude to different denominations.

I grew up in the United Methodist Church, and I’m not sure what denomination I want to go into yet. Campbell’s faculty and staff told me: “We’re not going to indoctrinate you in one specific denomination. We’re going to give you a bigger box and more tools, and we’re here to help you discern the right denomination for you.” I wanted to keep my doors open and figure things out; Campbell will allow that.

The final details haven’t been figured out, but this chapter is now beginning, and if I stay close to Him and walk with Him, I’ll be directed where He wants me to go.

Amber Wilkins ’13: “He put it on my heart to ‘Teach my word’”

Hometown: Pikeville, N.C.

Undergraduate college: Campbell University

During my junior year of high school, my church was doing a revival, a long revival -- 10 weeks -- when I felt a call that I should teach. I got up and went to the altar to pray, and I prayed about whether that was what I should do. I didn’t tell anybody what I was praying about or what I had been thinking about, and then my Sunday school teacher asked me: “Do you want to teach Sunday school Sunday?” And I said: “How did you know what I had been praying about?!” That was a confirmation moment.

Before then, I thought I wanted to go into the medical field. But God changed my plans, and He put it on my heart to “Teach my word” and to study religion and the Bible. Since then, I’ve known that’s what I wanted to go to school to do and to eventually teach at the college level.

I came to Campbell first as an undergraduate, and I was a religion major and involved with the Baptist Student Union and Religion Club. Representatives from Campbell came to my high school recruiting students, and I ended up taking a personal tour of the university. I loved the campus. I knew by graduation day, Campbell Divinity School was where I wanted to go. I knew the professors and [Dean Andy Wakefield]. I love it here, and I’m just trying to do what I learned when I was a junior in high school: “Be with the Spirit.”

Article and As Told Tos by Cherry Crayton, digital content coordinator