Along my studies I have little by little understood that theology belongs to street and marketplaces and should belong to our every day lives so that real transformations by the Word of God occur. (Thailand, '05 Grad)
Every course I have taken has been miraculously timed by the Lord to fit in with the questions I had, the skills I needed to develop practically or issues I needed to think through at the time. (Graduate in Thailand)
The growth and success of my future ministries will be the result of the great contribution of this program. (Philippines, '05 Grad)
God began His work many years ago, but there is no way for us to know all that has come before.
Certainly some names will be forgotten in this recollection, but you will be remembered by the Lord and those who were there.
God has raised up many people in many places at different times to accomplish His will. ABTS is privileged to be a part of what He is doing in Southeast Asia. As you read this history remember to praise the Lord. Rejoice in all that He has done and continues to do.
The story begins here on this page but will continue through each of the sites. To read the complete story you will need to go to the history page under each site name. Enjoy and do praise the Lord. And then pray that God's will and work will continue.
It was in the fall of 1981 or spring of 1982 that Dr. Paul Versluis and Dr. Quentin Kenoyer made a survey trip of Southeast Asia on behalf of Baptist Mid-Missions (BMM). While in Thailand they met and interacted with a group of Filipino missionaries working under the auspices of the Philippine Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (PABWE). As they talked with PABWE about the possible ministries for an American missionary, they learned that the biggest need was for a local training program for Thai Christians that God had gifted and called into ministry.
Dr. Versluis returned to Berean Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his home church, and shared the need with the pastor and missions committee. His suggestion was that the John Lillis family, who were currently appointees with BMM for the Chad, would be ideal for this ministry in light of the difficulty of getting into the Chad at that particular time. Berean sent Dr. Lillis to Thailand in May 1982 for a two week trip to meet with the PABWE group and to assess the need. Upon returning to the U.S., he agreed that there was a need there that he and his wife could address but that the real need was bigger than a local leadership training program.
He suggested that there was a need in all of Southeast Asia for quality graduate level theological education that would focus on Asians and expatriate missionaries alike. Furthermore, he suggested that Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary had a curriculum model in the form of its In-Ministry MRE program that would be an ideal vehicle to meet the need. Pastor Delfin Ecate, a senior PABWE missionary would later say that they had asked Dr. Versluis for a Piper Cub and Dr. Lillis brought them a 747.
Dr. Lillis then met with Dr. Paul Beals, of Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, who was the developer and director of the In-Ministry MRE, to discuss the possibility of taking the degree to Southeast Asia and headquartering the program in Bangkok because of its central location. Dr. Beals brought a proposal to the seminary faculty that the seminary establish an out of country site of Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary for Southeast Asia. The faculty approved this proposal on 20 August 1982. The President’s Administrative Committee approved it on 25 August and the Board of Trustees gave full board approval to the proposal on 1 September 1982.
Asia Blibical Theological Seminary Thailand history next.