Almost one year ago to the day, I received and email from Dr. Brian Baldwin, dean of the Sacks School of Ministry at Kentucky Christian University, inviting me to teach as missionary in residence for the university for the fall semester of 2014. Considering it had been only two years since I had last taught, I was honored. Apparently I had not messed things up too badly! I accepted and began making plans to teach the next fall. I arrived back from Colombia on the 16th of August and on the 19th of August I was on campus to begin preparing for my first day of class.
The first few weeks were hectic as I prepared my final syllabi and fleshed out my teaching notes. Immediately, I was involved in class preparation and teaching and soon began traveling and speaking as well. For the next four months, life was a whirlwind of activity as I taught during the week and traveled to churches for speaking dates on the weekends. It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. At times, I wondered it I would have the stamina to make it through the semester. I enjoyed the teaching and the speaking, but it was constant activity with little time for rest or relaxation. During the entire fall I managed only two and a half days to take off for hunting and that was it. But I loved the work and relished the chance to serve and to work with the students.
I must admit that there were times when I thought the semester was never going to end. I would struggle to meet deadlines and rise early to get ready for class and stay up late for grading or reading. But time tends to fly by when a person is very busy. Before I knew it, finals were on us and the students were handing en their term papers. I was swamped with grading and reading in order to get it all finished in time to meet grading deadlines. So all too soon, on Monday, December 14th, my semester officially ended as I handed in the key to my apartment and drove off of the KCU campus for the last time this semester. I had finished grading my final exams and term papers, and handed in the grades for all of my students.
The semester was over and grades were handing in on time. I packed up my apartment and returned to Rittman to pack for my next trips. I had finished teaching as Missionary in Residence for the fourth time at the school and the second time in the last three years. While I am looking forward to getting back on the field, I have certainly enjoyed my time at KCU and am honored that they would consider me worthy of training the next generation of missionaries. I will miss my students and my friends and colleagues in the School of Ministry. So in reality the semester passed too quickly, as I enjoyed my time with the students very much.
Some have asked why I make this extra effort at a time when many are starting to slow down. It certainly is not the pay! I honestly consider training the next generation of missionaries to be as much a part of my missionary ministry as my work in Colombia. It was the Apostle Paul’s charge to Timothy, as he awaited his martyrdom. It has been a sacred responsibility of every generation of missionaries ever since. I was trained by veteran missionaries in my college years. With a faithful wife I have been privileged to serve for more forty years in Colombia. It also is a great way to maximize the time I spend in the United States when I need to be speaking at our supporting churches. I can be speaking on weekends and teaching during the week.
During my time there and on furloughs the Lord opened the door for me to take advanced studies in the field of intercultural studies. All of these special blessings from the Lord came a responsibility together with opportunity. This gave me the proper qualifications to teach at a time when the church in Colombia has progressed to the point where I am no longer needed full time on the field. At the same time there is a great need for such teachers as there are few who meet the required qualifications.
And so all of that has opened the door for me to be invited to teach on the modern university campus where accrediting associations demand a terminal degree and the reality of the profession demands long years of service and practical experience. So, when called to serve in this way, I make every effort to do accept the challenge and do my best in the classroom, just as I do on when working on the field. There is no real salary involved; just a stipend to cover travel expenses in and out of town and then living quarters while on campus.
There is no need to pad a resumé nor any lucrative contract. My goal is to be effective in training and that is what I made my best effort to do this fall. My prayer is that our time together served to inspire them and better prepare them to be effective communicators of the Gospel to people who are of a different linguistic and cultural background. My two classes were World Evangelism and World Religions; both areas where I have had experience and training. My semester here has been a time to give back and to share!
So now that I have finished do I sit back and rest on my laurels? Maybe an extended vacation? Hardly! At the moment I have ten days off. So here at home to rest up a bit and get packed, then I will take off to Thailand to teach over there for two weeks. This is a trip funded by Dewayne Liebrandt and his supporters as they have wanted me to do some training there for quite a while now. After this two week trip, Lord willing, I will return to the States for one week and then be off to Colombia for my next session of work down there. The Good Lord has blessed me with so many exciting opportunities to serve others as I serve Him. “What a fellowship, what a joy divine” to quote an old hymn. It is a privilege to have been called to serve Him as a missionary, in partnership with you!