This week I go to my first residency requirement for my PhD at Bangor University, UK. It has been five years since I left the program in order to focus on my position as pastor of New Life Center. But this weekend I return to those pursuits officially. It has been a long journey. Shortly after high school, I gave my life to Jesus Christ.
As I grew as a Christian, people began to recognize my ability to understand God’s word and help others understand it as well. It didn’t take long to see that God was calling me to ministry. So I began to look at options for college. My parents were both educated and I assumed I would go to college as well. But being called to ministry, I questioned the need to go college and decided to enroll in Rhema Bible College in Broken Arrow.
The day I was supposed to go to Rhema for my freshman orientation, I was driving by our local community college and I heard God say as clearly as any time in my life, “Pull in.” I pulled into the circle drive in front of the college and God said, “Don’t go to Rhema. Enroll here.” I didn’t understand it at the time but God clearly wanted me to go to a university and not bible college. After a semester at TCC, I applied to Oral Roberts University.
It didn’t take long at ORU to understand why God changed my path. From the very first class at ORU i realized God made me for theological education. I loved my theology classes. They opened my eyes to so many aspects of God that I would have missed in a bible college. I began to hunger for theology, church history, early church fathers and systematic theology. As a new ORU student, they made me go to a few different seminars on student life. One of them changed my life forever. A communications professor, Dr. Jonny MacAllen, did a talk on achieving our dreams. He talked about growing up poor and yet reaching to the highest level of education when he earned a PhD. Dr Mac told us, “If a poor kid like me can achieve a dream of PhD, you can too.” In that moment, God spoke to my heart. From that day, I decided that God was calling me to pursue higher education. I knew God was leading me to do a PhD.
This weekend I pick up that dream from 18 years ago. Don’t give up on your dream. If a kid like me can become a PhD, you can too. In my next blog, I will share how I found my program.