Keeyon Upkins (ThM, 2014)
I am in the beginning phase of co-planting a church, Proclaim the Truth Bible Fellowship, with fellow DTS Alum Jimmy King, II (ThM, 2006) in the Orlando, FL, area. We are specifically targeting the lower socio-economic status area just outside of downtown. Follow along as we take a tour of the city, and I hope you’ll understand why this area is important.
Orlando is America’s ninth fastest growing city. Orlando’s boundaries continue to expand as more and more people make Orlando home. Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld continue to attract tourists from around the world. Much of this growth has provided the people of Orlando with a great amount of hope; new jobs to provide economic hope, new communities to provide social hope, and new Bible-believing churches to provide spiritual hope.
However, not all areas of Orlando benefit from this growth. Unemployment remains high. Communities continue to evidence decay and destruction. Many churches have fallen victim to liberal theology, the prosperity gospel, and the showmanship of a man. As a result, the gospel has been deprived of its hope—the hope of Christ. These communities need the hope of the gospel preached in the context of their lives as well. As a result, we have put down our anchors in this community among this group of people. We hold Thursday evening Bible studies with roughly 20 people who are praying for God to use this church plant to transform a community. With this group, we are presenting a vision of a local church on mission along with other churches to see the gospel reign supreme in the lives of our neighbors. This means we are faithful in teaching and preaching the gospel as well as providing for the needs of our brothers and sisters.
Some of my favorite memories at Dallas Seminary involve my fellow classmates. To hear the stories of what some had done, were doing, and were expecting to do was truly an encouragement in the greatness of our God. Living in Swiss Tower for those years was priceless. I am convinced that our fellow classmates and tenants are some of the greatest people in all of Christendom.
I cherish my time at Dallas Theological Seminary primarily due to its passion and love for the word of God. The professors and even my fellow classmates showed me what it looks like to handle Scripture with humility and confidence. In an age where some are dogmatic to the point of divisiveness on nonessentials and others are loose on essentials, it was refreshing to see a group of professors honestly approach the infinite wisdom of God and unpack its truth. I vividly remember sitting and listening to my professors' discussions and thinking, “Who knew all of this was in the Bible? I can’t wait to tell everyone about all this good stuff I’m learning.” With the same confidence and humility, we are teaching those in this community to love God's Word and to love those made in his image.