Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Journey to CIU SSM

When I decided to enter into full-time ministry training, I met with my pastor and asked him about where I should go to seminary. I thought that The Master's Seminary (the president is John MacArthur) would be the best place, but my pastor said that I should stay Southern Baptist, so I went to Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (GGBTS) in Mill Valley, California.
Fred (from Columbia, SC)

Dr. Melick (B.A. CIU)
When I got to Mill Valley, my roommate was Fred. Fred was from Columbia, South Carolina. Fred and I got along well. He was a very good roommate. In my second semester at GGBTS, I took my first Greek class with Dr. Richard Melick. I was attending seminary to receive training in Pastoral Counseling. Greek and Hebrew were simply hurdles to a degree, nothing I really needed (in my mind) to succeed in ministry. Dr. Melick was a wonderful Greek instructor. He had graduated from Columbia International University (in Columbia, SC) and taught there as well. He told a few stories about the school, but none of them really sunk in until recently. The last church I attended in California before moving across the country was Strawberry Community Church. The pastor was Henry Deneen, who moved to California from Columbia, SC. Strangely enough, those three connections to that city never clicked.
Henry Deneen (from Columbia, SC)

Dr. Kostenberger
(M.Div. Columbia Biblical Seminary)
When I entered Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, North Carolina, I mainly intended on studying under Dr. Andreas Kostenberger. Dr. Kostenberger had received a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School under Dr. D. A. Carson. However, while taking classes with Dr. Kostenberger, I would hear stories about his days in seminary at ... Columbia International University. He told several fascinating stories about a professor he had there: Dr. Bill Larkin. For those of you wondering ... NO, I still wasn't connecting the dots.

After graduating from SEBTS, I landed my first full-time teaching position at Liberty University. The Dean of the School of Religion was Dr. Elmer Towns. Dr. Towns attended CIU (when it had a previous name) back in the 1950s. This school year I have been sharing an office with Dr. Paul Fink, who graduated from CIU in the 1950s.

Dr. Elmer Towns
(attended Columbia Bible College in the 1950s; now Dean of the School of Religion at Liberty University)
Dr. Paul Fink (B.A. Columbia Bible College)
When I saw an opening at Columbia International University's School of Seminary and Ministry (CIU SSM) in August, I started making a few of these connections. After praying for a couple weeks, I decided to apply for the position. A few days later my daughter came home from school with a test she took on all the state capitals. My daughter, a wonderful little girl (she's 12) and an outstanding student, missed only one state capital: Columbia, South Carolina. My wife and I shared a glance that still brings a smile to my face as my children had no clue why we found that so ironic.

The position opening at CIU SSM was because Dr. Larkin was retiring from full-time teaching. I had seen Dr. Larkin at ETS conferences (Evangelical Theological Society) in years past, but I had never had a conversation with him. However, I had been using his Ephesians commentary for about 1 1/2 years in independent study courses.

My wife and I had only been to South Carolina once in our lives, a few years ago (Greenville), and we stayed at a students' house. This past summer we took a trip to Myrtle Beach. Then we she went to a conference in Greenville. Then this December we both we to CIU to interview for the position.

We were both overwhelmingly impressed by the students, the faculty, and the administrators. Love for God, His church, truth, and a passion for missions all had a synergistic effect to cause us to truly love the campus. We went through many, many ... many interviews that week. We left town a little dizzy, overwhelmed by the amount of information we needed to process through. However, we both believed immediately that the environment at CIU was one we both would greatly enjoy and appreciate.

As of July 1, 2013, I will be teaching at the School of Seminary and Ministry at CIU. I feel a great sense of awe at being considered for the position, let alone being offered the job. Meeting the faculty and knowing that I will be working alongside them is a very exciting prospect. My family would appreciate your prayers as we seek to transition into this new phase in the most God glorifying way possible.

We have already stumbled a bit, but we are thankful for the grace of those around us. We will miss our friends, our church, and the ministry we had at Liberty University with such wonderful students. Seeing the ministry that God has prepared for my future is one of the best presents I could have received this year. Merry Christmas to all!


Andy Naselli said...

Congrats, Dave!

Unknown said...
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Jason in NC said...

Congratulations, David! That's awesome news!

Nick said...

Thank you for giving us the background of how God has worked out this job for you. Congratulations!