As I (David) have already written and reflected upon, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya this past year with my friend John Schultz on behalf of Equip the Nations. While traveling the countryside, I asked him to share the story behind the formation of Equip the Nations, inc because it reveals another avenue for ministry that most seminary students have not considered.
I was listening to the commencement address at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when news alerts began to popup on my smartphone. The headlines told the story of a lone gunman who entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, killing 26 people before ending his own life. Our nation stood in complete dismay at the cold-blooded and unusually heinous act of taking the lives of innocent children, most of which were between the ages of 6 and 7 years old. I marveled at the lostness of a sick and dying world where such tragedies as that of Sandy Hook occur on a regular basis.
Despite the sadness of the Sandy Hook tragedy on December 14, 2012 I was able to rejoice in graduating from seminary with a Masters of Theology (ThM) in Christian Ethics. I did not recognize then that God was putting into motion a larger plan for my life than what my finite mind was able to conceptualize. God divinely sat me beside Alem Longchar, an Indian national, who was also graduating from SWBTS.
“Why don’t you come to India sometime?” Alem said as he handed me his business card at graduation. I took the card as any God-fearing Christian who did not want to offend his neighbor and gently tucked it in my suit coat thinking, “Yeah that is never going to happen.” Nevertheless, I thought he was a nice guy and knew I could not realistically keep up with his business card so I befriended him on Facebook.
Back to the Nets
I knew when I graduated with a ThM it was time to look for a place to serve despite my desire to pursue a PhD. Five years of seminary had been very difficult on my family financially, physically, and emotionally. My family of 6 greatly struggled during our seminary years due to our unwavering commitment to keep my wife at home to school our children. My wife suffered a very painful miscarriage that would have killed her had she not been hospitalized. Emotionally we suffered due to me always being at either work or doing something school related. Seminary life was hard, and I knew something had to change for my family.
I prayed and sent my resume out to many different churches with the hope that between my education and four years pastoral experience I would be able to find a church large enough to support my family financially. Time after time I received a letter from different churches stating in essence that they had received my resume and though I possessed many qualities and talents they were looking for in a pastor, God had led them in a different direction. The churches that did show interest were all too small to support my family. I was discouraged to say the least that I had spent 5 years at seminary and unable to find a ministry position to where I could still take care of my family.
When the disciples were unsure what they needed to do for the Lord they returned to what they knew—fishing (John 21:3). So, I did likewise. I began to apply for jobs in the financial industry where I had worked prior to seminary after I had received many rejection letters from churches. I was able to find a job working for a large financial company through God’s providence in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There I was able to volunteer as a church missions minister and teach adjunctively for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. I still felt unfulfilled since I was not full-time in the ministry despite having places to serve. This lead me to prayer once again that God would show me what He wanted me to do.
Called to Serve
2015 was a life changing year for me. A family in our church invited my family to come to their home for “India night.” They served us with several delicious Indian dishes and showed the Bollywood movie, “Three Idiots.” “Three Idiots” depicted the Indian culture’s push for college students to wither become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. It emphasized the stress Indian students experience in pursuit of these professions, and the resulting high suicide rate. A week later my wife and I watched a documentary on the street kids in India and what they do to survive. I told my wife that I believed God was calling me to go to India.
I sent a note to Alem asking him if the offer was still open for me to come to India. He graciously invited me to stay with him at his home, and as the old adage says, “the rest is history!” I returned to India with my daughter a year later and had a meeting with the leadership of the Indian ministry. It was on that trip that they told me they were no longer able to receive their funding from a church in the United States as they had since their inception 19 years ago. And, they were concerned the Hindu fundamentalist ruling party in India would not allow them to receive support from a Christian church in the United States. So, they asked me if my family was willing to form an organization to collect their funds in the Unites States and transfer the funds to them monthly. This led to the birth of Equip the Nations Inc. in 2017.
Equip the Nations
Equip the Nations is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Our focus is to equip ministries worldwide through theological education and to discover ways to make ministries more self-sufficient. Our main ministry partner is based in India and ministers in their home country, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. We also have ministry partners in Honduras and Kenya. Praise be to the Lord our God for blessing us with a ministry that is able to combat lostness in eight countries worldwide and growing!
Preacher. Professor. PhD in Theology. Runner. Cyclist. Roast Master at Caffeinated Theology.
Just give me Jesus . . . and coffee.