by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) — Truett-McConnell College conferred its largest number of bachelor's degrees, 70, during its 64th commencement ceremony, May 12. The ceremony included the school's first Bachelor of Arts in World Missions, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and online degrees.
"It's a special day for us here at Truett-McConnell College in many ways," said Dr. Emir Caner, president.
Addressing the graduates, Caner said, "Some of you now make up our first bachelor's in world missions class, and you'll be walking across the stage as a pioneer class in world missions.
"Some of you will be the first bachelor's of science in psychology; you'll be the pioneer in that class.
"Some of you will be the first online graduates at Truett-McConnell College," Caner said.
"It's been a special year here, moms, dads, and family members, at Truett-McConnell," Caner continued. "We began in October with the faculty at Truett-McConnell College signing the Baptist Faith and Message, a confessional document that defends the inerrancy of Scripture and defends the exclusivity of salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
"We now culminate that type of very special day right here today with our graduation speaker. I could think of no better person to come and to speak to us than Dr. Norman Geisler. He is a very great hero of mine. He will have published 80 books nearing his 80th birthday. Books like "Defending Inerrancy" that were just published, and books that have been out for more than 40 years on a general introduction of the Bible have all done one thing: They have held to the supremacy and the sufficiency of the Word of God in an age where they say there is no truth; he has defended the truth which is the Word of God," said Caner, introducing Geisler. "Because of that, we're grateful today to have him as a speaker."
Amid a crowd of nearly 900, Geisler delivered the commencement address titled "The Word of God: nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else."
Geisler -- provost and distinguished professor of apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, Calif. -- highlighted three points on upholding the inerrancy of Scripture: "We should not add to the Bible as sects do by offering new revelations, we should not take away from the Bible like liberals do by denying parts of the Bible, and we should not try to get around the Bible like some evangelicals do by ignoring it."
"It's dangerous to add to the Bible," said Geisler, who warned against inauthentic gospels, such as the Gnostic gospels in the first century, more modern cultic additions, and the apocryphal additions of the Roman Catholic Church.
Addressing those who say they cannot understand the Bible, Geisler said a wise man once told him, "The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things."
Noting that Mark Twain was not a Christian, Geisler quoted Twain, who said, "It is not the parts of the Bible I don't understand that bother me the most, it is the parts of the Bible I do understand that bother me the most."
Geisler said he once had difficulties comprehending who the riders on the red horse and white horse were in Revelations 6, then added, "I know the man on the red cross, who shed his blood, died for my sins, and offers me salvation."
"The Bible is going to help you in every area of your life," Geisler continued, reading the following biblical selections that stress the Bible's importance:
-- "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" 1 Peter 1.23;
-- "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" 1 Peter 2.2; and,
-- "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" Hebrews 5.14.
Geisler reminded students that "in times of discouragement, remember these words: 'Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord'" (1 Corinthians 15.58).
Recipients of TMC's first-ever world missions degrees were Anna Ballejos, Joel Ballejos, Kevin Sims, and Krista Stone.
Recipients of TMC's first-ever psychology degrees were Jessie Frye, Laura Shipp, and Tabitha Orr.
Truett-McConnell conferred six associate degrees to the following students: Stephanie Blankenship, Brandie Whitmire, Kaitlyn Garrison, Allison Lloyd, Kayla Yearwood, and Aubrey Folds.
Others earning B.A. degrees were Courtney Barnard, Denisha Beasley, Benjamin Boggus, Angela Brooks, Neely Butler, Roderick Bombard, Tiffany Caporale, Tobie Cook, Raymond Crawford, Renato Delgado, Joy Dingler, Samuel Dingler, William Fortenberry, Jessie Frye, Nicholas Fryman, Megan Fulcher, Benjamin Fuqua, Benjamin Garrison, Breanna Gibboney, Philip Griffith, Marjorie Grindle, Matthew Groover, Benjamin Haywood, James Hill, Matthew Hill, Samantha Hill, Steven Hopper, Heather Honea, Jacob Hunter, Edwin Izenady, Tyron Louis-Jeune, Dustin Jeffords, Colton Jones, Marla Johnson, Lauren Kelley, Maryam Kirk, Traci Lawson, Courtney Lyons, Danielle Lyons, Susan Martin, Bradley Mills, Rosalyn Nixon, Jeffrey Nunnally, Tabitha Orr, Heather Pillsbury, Matthew Powell, Debra Reese, Alison Rice, Katie Richards, Micah Risinger, Grace Robbins, Erica Robinson, Zachry Schofill, Joshua Rumphol, Laura Shipp, Cory Smith, Hayle Swinson, Matthew Tenpenny, Josiah Welch, Jared Williams, Hannah Wisdom, Kyle York, and Ryan Young.
by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) -- Truett-McConnell College World Missions Center hosted a brunch May 11 that honored four students who graduated May 12 with the school's first Bachelor of Arts in World Missions degrees.
Truett-McConnell conferred the degrees upon Joel and Anna Ballejos, Kevin Sims, and Krista Stone.
"Ultimately, I believe the education I received at Truett-McConnell is the same as I would have gotten at the seminary level," said Stone, who planned to major in Christian studies when she first enrolled, and then attend a seminary to concentrate on missions. However, when Truett-McConnell initially offered the missions degree, Stone said it was exactly what she needed.
As married students, Anna and Joel both said they were drawn to Truett-McConnell when they toured the campus with President Emir Caner.
"You can feel that God is doing something here," Anna said. "When a lot of colleges are dying, Truett-McConnell is growing; and that's what made a difference for us. We could feel it when we walked in."
Graduating with a history degree as well, Anna added that missions classes like cross-cultural anthropology and cross-cultural communications taught her "how to share the Gospel in a way people understand it, not the Americanized way -- to not change the message, just change the method."
A native of Argentina, Joel said the training in missions classes "helped me understand even the Hispanics here in Georgia, where we have five or six different countries represented. They speak the same language, but the cultures are different."
Joel graduated with a double major in World Missions and Christian Studies. He plans to serve as the Hispanic pastor of Blackshear Baptist Church in Oakwood, Ga., where Anna will be the missions' administrative assistant.
A missionary in Argentina, Joel's mother, Laura, she said she remembered reading the prayer of Hannah from 1 Samuel over her son when Joel was born.
"We turned him over to the Lord even from the womb," Laura said tearfully. "We always had the conviction that God was going to do great things. We were convinced this was the next step for realizing the next great thing. And this school has prepared him so much and given Joel so many possibilities."
Sims will serve as an education and missions pastor at Lost Mountain Baptist Church in Powder Springs, Ga. Sims said that students in TMC's missions classes "are getting more than a textbook. They're getting application. It's one thing to learn about it in the classroom, but when you face it, it's a lot different."
This application comes through participation in local and international mission trips as required by Truett-McConnell's curriculum.
Dr. Ed Pruitt, director of TMC's World Missions Center, said he did not know what to anticipate when God called him to start a missions program at Truett-McConnell three years ago.
"For these first four to graduate within three years, it's a God thing," the missions professor said. "I praise him for bringing students here, and for allowing us to be a part of their lives. I can't wait to see what God does in and through them in the next 20-to-30 years."