One of the people in my I-group (a group of people with the same academic advisor told me that I might want to start learning to share my call story. Here is my first shot at some of what is leading me to become a pastor. This is going to be a story in installments, so stay tuned to this journal. 🙂 (By the way, I am really open to dialoging with people about this, so please email me if you have questions or [civil] commentary.)
I guess that this is the really meaty part of this: MY CALL TO MINISTRY!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t receive my call through a theophany, that is, a divine visitation by God or by anything major. Really, people would think my story crazy if they heard it and did not have the same understanding as I do of how God speaks to us.
The last night I was at Urbana, we were singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and the experience moved me. The refrain, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel” meant something to me and it was just the most awesome promise of hope. “Emmanuel” means “God with us” and the promise of God coming to dwell with us brought me to tears because it is something that we do not deserve but happens because God loved the world so very much. I felt a calling to spread this Gospel and I wondered where the Lord would send me.
When I returned to school, it was a shock because people were so angry and so rude to each other, unlike the people I encountered at Urbana. In my Anthropology of Religion class, I talked to people who told me the bad experiences that they had found in their churches and why they would never go back to church again. As I listened, I realized that the people of my generation were not hearing the Gospel because the mainline churches were being lax about preaching it in a way that people could understand it. A year earlier, I had spent a weekend or two at Camp Maymac, a camp run by Cityteam Ministries for inner city kids. It had been an amazing experience because I saw kids who really needed to hear the Gospel and for which the Gospel would make a huge difference.
In January of 2001, God put it on my heart to apply to seminary. My reaction was something to the tune of “as if!!!!” I was planning on taking a year off after I graduated from college but the idea failed to disappear from my heart. I finally applied for the MTS program, thinking it was a shot and I probably wouldn’t get accepted in the first place. My deal with God was that if I got accepted, I would think of going. Well… I got accepted and I finally (after much deliberation and prayer) decided to go.
My plan was to start in the Fall of 2001 and take the year-long Greek class. Well… God made it possible for me to take Summer Greek. I loved Greek — it opened the New Testament to me and I really started to understand what I was reading. Our professor, Dr. Bryant, was fanstastic and made sure we understood everything. I don’t know exactly what it was that summer, but the Lord called me to preach His word. Perhaps, it was the word study we did or perhaps it was the experience of leading worship. I had supply-preached at the end of my Spring Quarter and writing the sermons was really fun. I realized that I loved what I was doing and wanted to continue it. More than that, I felt like God had called me to get His message to His people as everything had worked out in a crazy way so that I could be where I am. My housing for this last summer worked so that I could stay on campus. I was able to to get the financial aid to take Summer Greek and my church accepted me as a worship leader.
In the last two quarters of seminary, I have had quite a bit of theology, Biblical languages, Old Testament studies, and everything else and I still love what I am doing. I cannot wait to do my homiletics classes and my pastoral leadership classes and my New Testament studies. I know that next year will be a break from the work as I am having to take it off for family reasons (i.e. so Jon can go on Internship) but I know that the ministry will continue next year for me.