This past month, I had an opportunity to minister in Western Kenya by leading a pastor’s conference alongside my friend, fellow ETBU-alumnus, and fellow two-time SWBTS-alumnus, John Schultz. John leads a non-profit called Equip the Nations, inc and had reached out to me several months ago, asking if I would be interested in helping lead the conference. But in order to understand the effect of that invitation, I need to back up a bit.
In the Fall 2013 semester, a professor reminded our class that our presence on campus was not due simply to our own prowess. However capable we may be, there are others around the world just as capable as we are—some even more so—who do not have the opportunity to the education and training we were receiving. His was a call for humility and good stewardship on our part—that we did not waste the opportunity that the Lord had granted us. His words planted a seed that would sprout a few years later.
In January of 2017, I had the opportunity to travel to Malaysia and help teach a one-week intensive course at the seminary on Penang island. In preparation for that trip, we researched the state of Christianity around the world and sought how best to communicate the truths of Scripture in a cultural context distinct from our own. Much like my hermeneutics professor at ETBU, Bob Utley, taught me, I endeavored to understand what presuppositions and cultural understandings I brought to the exegetical task and, recognizing them, separate that which was cultural on my part from that which is central to Scripture. In Malaysia, I realized how much I enjoyed the work of teaching cross-culturally and I committed to make the effort to teach internationally on an annual basis
But life has a habit of getting in the way. The difficulties of the past 18 months or so had put that commitment in a holding pattern. It seemed unwise to look for international, cross-cultural teaching opportunities when I was also looking for full-time employment. How could I commit to an international trip when I didn’t know where I would be leaving from?
Two years after Malaysia, I remember confessing to my wife that I was frustrated that everything had been on hold for as long as it had been. I needed to go, I told her. The Holy Spirit had impressed upon my heart that my circumstances weren’t to preclude me from my commitment any longer. So we began to pray for an opportunity.
Only days later, I received a text from John asking if I would be interested in traveling to Kenya with him to train some pastors. While the Lord was working in my own heart, he had led John and his wife to ask me to join him.
But why do I share that?
Because while I don’t know exactly what you’re experiencing, it can sometimes feel like the world is spinning uncontrollably and I can’t seem to find solid footing. But then experiences like this happen and we’re reminded that there is a sovereign hand that still guides history.
In the same week, the Lord impressed it upon me that it was time to return to a commitment I had made and he had already worked out how I would get back to it.
And that’s encouraging, isn’t it? Because it means that, however long we may feel that we’ve waited and however long we’ve struggled, at just the right time, the Lord works things out. And while we shouldn’t try to understand it in the midst of the striving—after all, that tends to lead to despair because we simply do not know the mind of the Lord and he never works on our time-table—the Lord’s hand is always clear on the other side. Our responsibility isn’t to understand the waiting; it’s to lean into his will and to trust that he will work all things out.
Pastor at University Baptist Church, San Antonio.
Professor. PhD in Theology.
Runner. Cyclist. Roast Master at caffeinatedtheology.com.
Just give me Jesus . . . and coffee.