Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Graduate, Mary Ann McMillan, Goes from Orphan to a Doctorate

Mary Ann McMillan, once an orphan, receives her doctorate in Christian education from Southeastern Seminary to undergird her missionary service.

Mary Ann McMillan never intended to earn a full degree when she enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She just needed 20-30 hours of course credit to go back to the mission field full-time.

On May 12, McMillan received her doctorate in Christian education, adding on to her master’s degree in intercultural studies that she received in 2013 after deciding it would prove useful for her future.

The Lord was cultivating in McMillan a desire to go overseas to minister in closed countries, so she realized that having a doctorate in education would provide the platform for that goal.

For McMillan, it’s incredible that she received her doctorate, knowing that she came from humble and challenging beginnings. She was an orphan until the age of 7, moved into foster care and then was adopted “into a family that should not have adopted a child at all,” as she recalled.

Her time in college was spiritually transformational as she became involved in a campus ministry and decided to follow Jesus as a junior in college. It was after she became a believer that God began giving her a heart for the mission field.

“Right before I was graduating college I really felt the Lord calling me to do missions full-time. I just didn’t know what that looked like so I actually went overseas with the IMB as a Journeyman,” she said of the mission board’s two-year program.

McMillan’s first year in a closed country was difficult stemming from obstacles to her ministry as an African American woman. She remembers times being chased down the street or having items thrown at her due to racial oppression.

“I had a curfew at 4 in the afternoon because it got dark at 4 and the majority of the ministries started at 8 at night, but I had to be in early because of my race,” she recalled. “So that’s why they decided to allow me to switch countries so I ended up in the Czech Republic my second year.”

Even in the midst of spiritual and racial oppression, God proved Himself powerful during that first year as McMillan and her teammates were doing ministry one day. While some women were gathered in a field listening to a translator share his testimony, one of the women spoke up.

“She stopped him and said, ‘I don’t want to hear your story. I want to hear hers,'” McMillan recounted, “and pointed at me. She said that ‘I’ve never seen a person of color before and I want to hear how she became a believer and why the Lord is so important for her.'”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Lauren Pratt