Thomas Jefferson Bowen was the first Southern Baptist missionary to both Nigeria and Brazil. His largely forgotten, but captivating story is told in the new book Unthinkable: The Triumph and Tragedy of Forgotten American Hero T. J. Bowen by my friend Jim Hardwicke. The Nigerian and Brazilian Baptist Convention each have millions of members, thousands of churches, as well as schools, camps, and other ministry entities. Bowen’s story is a powerful example of the results which come from planting the gospel in a new place and then letting a century or more go by!

Another more current example is a missionary who has recently led the first people to faith in Jesus in a people group in Southeast Asia. It took them almost a decade of intensive work to reach the first convert. Now dozens are coming to faith. In a generation or two, this nascent movement will likely be a source for missionary outreach to surrounding people. The gospel is compelling for all who hear it and produces missionaries from and in every context.

A wise man once told me, “We overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in ten.” He encouraged me to take the long view of my work. While some tasks require attention today, the most consequential actions sometimes produce little or no immediate results. However, they do put processes into motion that make a significant impact over time.

My church planting experience is a good example. We started a church more than 30 years ago. The results it is achieving today are a humbling demonstration of God’s ability to accomplish more than we could have imagined when we were setting up equipment hauled from storage in a third-hand truck every week to a public school gymnatorium (yes, that’s a thing). Another example is training students at Gateway. We seldom see a new graduate make a major ministry impact right out of seminary. But every year, we marvel at what those who graduated 20 years ago are now doing. Their impact is profound—and gives meaning to the daily grind of the work we do.

What are you doing right now that will bear fruit in the future? Yes, the demands of today are urgent. But leaders allocate time and invest in activities with an eye on the horizon. We are building now, but also planting shade trees for a future generation.

Take the long view on your work, your family, and the impact you can make by strategically investing time, energy, and money in projects and people that will pay dividends—over time—in God’s kingdom. Your legacy is more than the combined impact of your daily activities. It includes what you do that has generational impact in the future. Make sure that is part of your leadership and life plan.


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To Live Biblically – My Family

My oldest son, Micah, has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a neurological disorder he was diagnosed with at 5 months of age. He is non-verbal, cognitively around 3-4 years old, and has some significant behavioral issues.

Kelly Womack
Trustee at Gateway Seminary
Kelly Womack lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas with her husband and sons. She earned a MDiv from Gateway Seminary in 2003.

Thank You and Goodbye

Dr. Iorg expresses thanks to all who made his time at Gateway Seminary remarkable.

Jeff Iorg
President Emeritus
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president emeritus of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

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The Bible Teaching Podcast
May 17, 2024

Bible Translations

Walk through the process of translating the Bible, the complicated task of bringing across complete concepts into a new language and culture. There is a lot you need to know about context and linguistic ranges of meaning. Why are accurate translations important and ho

10 Questions with 10 Pastors
May 13, 2024

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia, Global Strategist for Europe, grew up as a missionary in Brazil. Cross-cultural reality has always been part of his life. He feels called to share the Gospel with the lost and says there is a higher level of darkness and lostness in Europe than people rea


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Jonathan Edwards and the Asbury Revival

Chris Chun and Chris Woznicki discuss the signs of true revival, signs of the work of the Holy Spirit, and why it is important to critically assess the characteristics of revival in a spirit of charity.

Chris Chun
Professor of Church History | Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Dr. Chris Chun is the professor of Church History and the director of Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary. Chris’ doctoral research at St. Andrews University was focused on the eighteenth-century Edwardsean Baptists in Britain. He also has served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society (Far West Region).

Jonathan Edwards and the Baptists | Douglas Sweeney, Nathan Finn and Chris Chun

Dr. Douglas Sweeney and Dr. Nathan Finn joined Dr. Chris Chun for a panel discussion on Jonathan Edwards, recorded live at the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim.

Chris Chun
Professor of Church History | Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Dr. Chris Chun is the professor of Church History and the director of Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary. Chris’ doctoral research at St. Andrews University was focused on the eighteenth-century Edwardsean Baptists in Britain. He also has served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society (Far West Region).

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