Students come to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College for a variety of reasons. Some are drawn to a particular field of study. Others want to live in a specific part of the country. Many are following the recommendations of trusted friends and mentors. Each person has his or her own reasons, and each follows God’s leading and direction.
When Bo Smith followed God’s call to New Orleans, he wasn’t focused on the city or the seminary. He was thinking about dental school.
After some rebellious years as a teenager, Bo became a Christian during his freshman year at Auburn University. Still a relatively young believer when he graduated, he began working on a master of divinity degree through Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. That experience convinced him that God was calling him into local church planting.
After graduation, I went to Atlanta and served as a North American Mission Board church-planting apprentice with the congregation of M28 Church. They taught me how to engage the community and be an urban missionary. I was able to exercise the evangelistic gifting I had.
That’s also where he met his wife, Katie, who happened to be considering a dental school in New Orleans. That meant the Smiths had a decision to make.
We knew that we were falling in love and wanting to get married. I was trying to plant a church in Atlanta, and she was trying to get into dental school in New Orleans. So, we prayed about that and really felt like God was calling us to dental school. That required me to step away from my church planting efforts in Atlanta.
Even though New Orleans had never been on his radar, the move proved to be a blessing for Bo. Like Atlanta, New Orleans is a NAMB Send City. So, he was able to pick up where he had left off in Atlanta. He started serving at a church plant in the area and working as a full-time physical education teacher in a local school. He also decided it was time to continue his education, and NOBTS was a natural choice.
I actually didn’t fall in love with New Orleans or NOBTS and Leavell College until I became a student. It wasn’t one of those deals where I had heard about the seminary or heard their mission statement and wanted to be a part of it. I just knew I was in a city with a Southern Baptist seminary, so I could work on my doctor of ministry degree.
Early on, the seminary got what Bo called his “leftovers.” With so many other things on his plate, his education ranked third or fourth on his priority list. As Bo worked on his doctoral ministry project, though, God started moving in his heart. For the first time, he saw the benefits of higher education beyond simply gaining more academic credentials.
Everything had been so new to me during my master’s of divinity degree it was like drinking out of a fire hydrant. I was a relatively new believer, and I was just trying to keep my head above water. I learned a lot, but I didn’t really start connecting dots until my D.Min project. NOBTS gave me the tools I needed to strategically lead our church and to advance the gospel. When I was able to apply my project in our local church and see it actually work, I fell in love with the thought of continuing my education.
Bo was so grateful for his NOBTS experience that he enrolled in a PhD program that he hopes to complete soon. Earlier this year, he also joined the NOBTS and Leavell staff as the director of alumni engagement. Now, the young man who was just going through the motions can genuinely talk with other alumni about the school and its potential for kingdom ministry.
I love my job because it’s all about relationships and connecting with our alumni. I get to call alumni every day and engage them, whether things are hard or going great. I can praise the Lord with them or pray with them right there over the phone. I’m getting to minister to our alumni on a daily basis.
Another way Bo and Katie give back to the seminary is through their regular gifts to the Providence Fund. Above their tithe to their local church, they have made an intentional choice to support ministries that advance the gospel—including NOBTS and Leavell College.
We are nestled in this city that represents nations from all over the world. We have this laboratory here at our fingertips. Once we finish a lesson in the classroom, we can walk outside our seminary gates and do ministry with people from India, Africa, China, you name it. Because of that, students are more prepared for ministry after graduating from New Orleans than they would be anywhere else.
Bo and Katie Smith didn’t just fall in love with the city of New Orleans. They discovered a passion for ministry through their experiences at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College. Your gifts to the Providence Fund played a role in igniting that passion—not just with the Smiths, but also with hundreds of students just like them.
Every dollar you give to the Providence Fund is a dollar those students won’t have to pay. Every dollar you invest helps NOBTS and Leavell College fulfill its calling to prepare servants who will walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission. Simply put, your generosity changes lives right now and will continue changing lives through them well into the future.
Thank you in advance for supporting New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College. We appreciate you more than we could ever say, and we wish you the greatest holiday season ever.
God bless you and keep you.
P.S.— Hurricane Ida impacted every building with wind and rain damage. The cost of repairing the damage will be significant. As you consider your gift, we would also ask you to pray with us as we begin making repairs. Click the donate button to make your gift to the Providence Fund today.