Approximately seven years ago, I began a grand journey when I yielded to the call upon my life to preach the gospel and serve the local church. I knew that I must serve the Lord. I knew that I had to preach the gospel. I also knew that I was unprepared to do these undertakings well. I talked with my pastor, and he introduced me to Dr. W. Burkette Raper. After talking things over very briefly with Dr. Raper, I was invited to his home to further discuss my calling and future aspirations. Dr. Raper told me something that I will never forget. I’m sure it is something that many a man pursuing the ministry heard from Dr. Raper. He said, “A call to the ministry is a call to prepare.” Those words resonated with me. They still do.
Dr. Raper spoke with me about the importance of education for a minister. I remember him explaining to me that a minister must be competent in a wide array of fields. Dr. Raper said, “An education gives you the tools that you will need in your toolbox to do the work that God has called you to do.” To this end, The North Carolina Foundation for Christian Ministries helped me to obtain a very high quality education. The foundation helped me financially as I completed my bachelor’s degree at the University of Mount Olive and they continued to support me as I completed my master’s degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Due in part to the assistance of the foundation, I have had the opportunity to study theology, pastoral ministry, hermeneutics, church history, biblical languages, leadership, counseling and more. I am now much better equipped to serve the local church because of the education that I have received. The bottom line is that a quality education helps those called into the ministry better serve the local churches, our conferences, and the convention.
During my studies at Mount Olive University, my favorite class was a hermeneutics class that was taught by the Rev. Dr. Richard Boyd. I often tell people that hermeneutics changed my life. It opened the Scriptures up to me immensely and in profound ways. After that, I took every class on hermeneutics and interpretation that I had the opportunity to take. In seminary I developed a particular interest in dealing with what many view as difficult passages of Scripture. In continuing to pursue this interest, I am currently working on writing a book on the parables of Christ for the Free Will Baptist Press. I hope to have this book completed by the end of 2015. It is my prayer that my work will help people see what the parables of Christ really teach in a way that is deeply meaningful and relevant to their lives as Free Will Baptists and Christians. I plan to continue to serve the local church, my conference, and the convention for many years to come. My journey will continue until the Lord calls me home.