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What Teacher Most Influenced You?

“Leader Influences” asks prominent leaders and teachers a question about who, or what, influenced them in a particular area.

In this first issue of the new Southern Seminary Magazine, we are debuting “Leader Influences,” a recurring feature that will ask prominent leaders and teachers a question about who, or what, influenced them in a particular area.

Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie Floyd

President of the Southern Baptist Convention

As a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, God used my professor of evangelism, Dr. Roy Fish, in my life greatly. Following the completion of both my seminary degrees and after I had progressed in the pastorate for some years, I also developed a personal relationship with him. He deposited in my life and leadership deep faith and a great hope in the power of the gospel. His passion for prayer, spiritual awakening, personal evangelism, and church evangelism was contagious and long lasting in my life and ministry. Because of Dr. Fish, I live my life and lead others with great urgency.

“He deposited in my life and leadership deep faith and a great hope in the power of the gospel.”

Kevin Ezell

Kevin Ezell

President of the North American Mission Board

Larry Gilmore, who pastored College Heights Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tennessee, went above and beyond to mentor me as a leader and pastor. He very graciously allowed me to preach at his church one Sunday night before he’d ever heard me preach. He met with me on a monthly basis and mentored me on how to become a good husband, father, and pastor. Larry was so good at helping me take what I learned in seminary and apply it in practical ways. He took the time to help me work through sermons I was preparing. What I really appreciated is that when they were bad, he would tell me! He took the risk of investing in a kid he didn’t even know, and he is still a mentor to this day. I will be eternally grateful to him.

Paul Helm

Paul Helm

Philosopher and theologian

    When I was in the sixth form of school we had a geography master, Wilbur Howeth. He ran a geography discussion group with the scholarship boys. It helped me to begin to argue because he would argue a particular position with us, get us to knock it down if we could, and then the following week he would argue for the opposite position, and try and get us to knock him down. He was good on these occasions when he had us round the table, and peppered us with questions, and laughed at us, and jeered, and tried to disrupt our answers, with a twinkle in his eye. He sharpened my mind. I suppose he would have no idea of the influence that would have on me. It was a kind of turning point, really, in the providence of God.

    Ken Fentress

    Ken Fentress

    Senior pastor of Montrose Baptist Church, Rockville, Maryland

      One of the most influential individuals in my life and ministry is the late Rev. J.L. Dawson, who was pastor of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, from 1963 until his death in 1983. Pastor Dawson led me to Christ and licensed me to the gospel ministry as a teenager. He was one of the most biblically faithful gospel preachers I’ve ever known. He discipled me as a teenager and the many lessons I learned from Pastor Dawson have shaped my preaching, my concept of ministry, and my leadership. I am thankful to the Lord for his impact in my life through the ministry of Rev. J.L. Dawson, who was my first mentor in the faith.

      “He discipled me as a teenager and the many lessons I learned from Pastor Dawson have shaped my preaching, my concept of ministry, and my leadership.”

      H.B. Charles

      H.B. Charles Jr.

      Pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida

      H.B. Charles Sr. was my father. He pastored the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles for 40 years until his death in 1989. I was 16 years old when my father died and a year and a half later, I was called to succeed my father as pastor of Mt. Sinai at the age of 17. I did not have many years with my father. But he was and is the primary influence on my ministry. Looking back over 25 years of pastoral ministry, I can see more clearly the ways my father mentored me. Here are a few of the lessons my father taught me: Read widely. Take your sermon preparation seriously. Be generous. Love your congregation. Be a friend to preachers. Weather ministry storms with faith. You can recover after mistakes.

      "I did not have many years with my father. But he was and is the primary influence on my ministry."

      R. Albert Mohler Jr.

      R. Albert Mohler Jr.

      President of Southern Seminary

      “Hello, my name is Timothy George and I am here to teach you that there was someone between your grandmother and Jesus — and it matters.” Fresh from his doctoral work at Harvard, Timothy George held Southern Seminary students captivated as he taught church history and historical theology. I was hooked already, but Professor George stoked a fire that has never gone out. He later served on my own doctoral committee. He is a master of the teaching art, a scholar whose learning is infectious, a churchman, and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Through him a generation of students in two schools has met the church Fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans, and a host of others. As his student, I will always remain in his debt. As his friend, I thank God for this gift to Christ’s church.

      Timothy George, former SBTS professor of church history (1978-1988), is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and has been at Beeson since its inception in 1988. At the school, he teaches church history, historical theology, and the theology of the Reformers. He currently serves as executive editor for Christianity Today and serves on the editorial advisory boards of the Harvard Theological Review, Christian History, and Books & Culture.

      Gregg Allison

      Gregg R. Allison

      Professor of Christian theology

      Kenneth Kantzer was my professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for Systematic Theology I, Theology of John Calvin, and Theological Prolegomena. In the mid-20th century, Dr. Kantzer was one of the founders — along with Carl F. H. Henry, Harold Ockenga, and a few others — of modern evangelicalism. He was a gracious statesman, gifted theologically and administratively, who sacrificed a promising writing career to be the dean at TEDS, the founding dean of the TEDS Ph.D. program, and the editor of Christianity Today. His teaching on the inerrancy of Scripture, for example, left an indelible impression on me and continues to be at the heart of my teaching on that doctrine.

      Kevin Jones

      Kevin Jones

      Assistant professor of teacher education at Boyce College

        The late Kenneth Chatman had the greatest influence on my life. He was the vice president of student affairs at Kentucky State University. He was caring. He was thoughtful. He was a man of few words but many convictions. He was godly, and he was a servant leader before “servant leadership” was trendy. When I was an undergraduate student, he encouraged my quest for a degree in elementary education. Others told me supporting a family with a teaching salary would be difficult. Many reminded me teaching was a female-dominated profession. He ingeniously taught me skills that assisted me through college. He assessed my weaknesses but encouraged me to pursue holistic improvement. He encouraged me to marry while communicating that turbulence existed in marriage. He allowed me to spend time with his family. His goal was to serve and educate others. He influenced me to do the same.

        Felipe Castro

        Felipe Castro

        Director of Hispanic Initiatives at Southern Seminary

          Miguel Nuñez, senior pastor of Iglesia Bautista Internacional in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and founder of Wisdom & Integrity Ministries, was of great influence when God called me to full-time ministry. Fourteen years ago, as I considered the cost of surrendering my business career with my hands holding the plow, I was tempted to look back. Nuñez’s compelling example was a great model to follow. A leading physician who specialized in the treatment of infectious diseases when God called him, he embraced the ministry with faithfulness and passion. He taught me to proclaim the gospel of salvation and lead with humility, love, wisdom, and integrity.

          Miguel Nuñez is the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Internacional in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and president of Wisdom & Integrity Ministries. An infectious disease specialist with 35 years of medical experience, Nuñez leads a reformation movement in Latin America. In December 2014, he graduated with a D.Min. at Southern Seminary after writing his thesis, “The Power of God’s Word to Transform a Nation: A Biblical and Historical Appeal to Latin American Pastors.”

          Ayman Ibrahim

          Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor Islamic Studies

          Ahdy Fouad greatly influenced my life. I remember meeting him when he was a Bible teacher, and he was like a moving encyclopedia of the Bible. He memorized chapters — in Arabic of course because that was the language. He used to preach very good sermons based off passages he memorized, and I was fascinated because he loved the Word of God so much. I memorized a lot of passages in the Bible because of his influence. He went to be with the Lord last year. But he impacted my life by teaching me to read the Word of God, to examine details of the text, and to sing the Bible. We have a saying in Egypt that I really highly consider. I cannot translate it literally, but it’s “if you memorize the Bible, the Word will keep your path” — it rhymes in Arabic.