Thursday, October 20, 2016

My sheep hear my voice... Part II

 Part II of my testimony of how I came to Christ and how He called me to mission.

After my conversion in July of 1976 my life didn't change dramatically, though I started reading the Bible often, as I never had before and had a thirst for it. About a month later my family went to a Christian revival, camping event called Jesus '76 in the middle of August 1976. I wasn't able to go for the whole week since I had band camp. However, I got permission to skip one day to go to hear Andre Crouch, a well-known Gospel singer and musician. Since Andre Crouch was playing in the evening and I arrived in the morning with friends of our family, I went to hear a young Australian man, Winkey Pratney, who was a youth evangelist.

In the picture above: Winkey Pratney @1981 was well known as a youth evangelist and a teacher. He was associated with Keith Green's ministry, Last Days Ministry, for many years.

As he said that it seemed to me as if everyone else was frozen in suspended animation and I heard the same voice I had heard the day I gave my heart to Christ, call me to work with Russian speaking young people. That was all, then life went on. However, that brief encounter changed my entire life. I thought that I would go to the Soviet Union as a physicist, since that was the only way I knew to get into the Soviet Union. I started as a physics major at Penn State. However, I did not have the mathematical aptitude for physics.

I struggled, but decided to major in Russian Language, which I had started to learn my first year at Penn State. I also took a Certificate in Russian Area Studies: Soviet Economics, Soviet Geography, Soviet History, Eastern European History, Russian Foreign Policy, Russian Domestic policy, ... Once my mother asked, "Do you take anything that doesn't have Russian or Soviet in the title?!" Not really.
After Penn State I went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois to train to be a missionary. I studied New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew. I also studied Church History, Systematic Theology, Apologetics, Philosophy of Religion and Missions. At TEDS I met the Academic Dean of the Eastern European Bible Institute, Gene Whiting, and the Lord called us to go to Yugoslavia to prepare to teach at EEBI. Russia was still not open in 1982.

While we were on furlough, the Berlin Wall fell. The Iron Curtain came down, but we were too embroiled in the Balkans to think of moving to a new field. I had also studied Macedonian and Bulgarian, and done extension teaching in both places.

Eventually the Lord led us to Belgium to Leuven, where I studied in the Institute of Philosophy, of the Catholic University of Leuven. I did an MA and PhD focusing on Russian Religious Studies. When we had wanted to return to Yugoslavia NATO forces were bombing Novi Sad and Belgrade. Our mission at the time, Greater Europe Mission, felt that we should not return.

After much deliberation we decided to go to teach as a part of Tyndale Theological Seminary in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Tyndale had been started by my seminary advisor, Dr. Arthur P. Johnston. As our children had learned Dutch in Belgium, this was a good move for them also.

At Tyndale I have had many Russian students, most from eastern Ukraine. Four years ago I was asked to coordinate a Master of Theology program for the Zaporozhye Bible College & Seminary in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. I was asked by one of my former students, who now serves as the Academic Dean, Vladimir Gorbenko.

It has been my privilege to serve them and to teach all the students I have had at Tyndale, Russian and others. We have had 70 different nations represented in the student body of Tyndale over the years: Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Armenian, Serb, Croat, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Italian, Greek, German, Finnish, Ghanaian, Cameroonian, Congolese, Rwandan, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Dutch, American, English, New Zealanders, Brazilian, Burmese (Myanmar), Indian, and many others.

What God began so many years ago in 1976 is still bearing fruit in my life. I am thankful that he has helped me to continue these forty years following him and following his call.

We have had 2 Timothy 2:2 as our motto for all these years of our ministry: "And the things you have heard from me the same entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others also." As we look back over our thirty+ year career we can see that the Lord has done this through our meagre efforts. "He who called you is faithful and he will bring it to pass."   

No comments:

Post a Comment