ALUMNI PROFILE / Master of Divinity
Mid-America was such a blessing. I chose the school because of its emphasis on preaching and pastoral care and because it was not attempting to be novel, but to represent the best of the historic Reformed tradition. It was exactly what I needed.
God has been so good to me. I was born in northern California to a Christian family. Though we were not Reformed, the word of God and the God of the word were revered. As a child, I learned my need of Christ and was taught to trust in Him, and early on I desired to serve Him as a foreign missionary.
My wife, Rashel, is Assyrian. She was born and raised in Iran. Assyrians are ethnically Christian (Eastern Orthodox or Catholic), but she was converted at a young age in Iran when she heard the gospel from a Pentecostal teacher! She and her family lived through the IranIraq War and immigrated to the USA when she was about 13.
The Lord eventually brought me to the doctrines of grace, and then to a covenantal understanding of the Bible (largely through the influence of my brother Joel, now an OPC pastor). I was working as a telecommunications consultant, then an analyst at a California university, and meanwhile I had obtained an undergraduate degree in business and an MBA. But my desire for the ministry grew, and I felt I needed to explore whether this might be the Lord’s call.
That was 2005, and the next step was seminary. After I was accepted at MidAmerica, I left my job, packed up my belongings, and drove to Dyer. I stayed with Gerry and Sandy Swets – they were so gracious! But things couldn’t stay that way for long because, in an amazing way, the Lord had brought Rashel to me, and we were married after final exams were over my first semester. Today, we have four children: Joshua (13), Emmalene (11), Hannah (7), and Moru (4).
Mid-America was such a blessing. I chose the school because of its emphasis on preaching and pastoral care and because it was not attempting to be novel, but to represent the best of the historic Reformed tradition. It was exactly what I needed, and I am still so thankful for the education I received and the men who taught me.
After graduating in 2008, I took an internship with an OPC congregation in Columbus, Ohio, which was pastored by Bill Kessler. That body was planting an OPC in Huntington, West Virginia. In 2010 the Lord called us to serve His people there, and I was ordained. West Virginia was a hugely cross-cultural experience for me. We worked hard and dearly loved the people there, but in God’s wise providence the church was not able to be established.
In 2015 the Lord directed our steps to Karamoja, Uganda. When we were asked if we would consider going, we immediately said yes. We arrived on the field in 2016, and I continue to serve there as an evangelist of the OPC.
Karamoja is remote and the people are extremely poor. In many ways, it is a difficult place to live. Sicknesses like malaria and amoeba have been our almost constant companions. So many people are still trapped in the darkness of animism and cultural sins. But we love the Karamojong so much and rejoice to see the wonderful things God is doing there.
James Folkerts, also a Mid-America graduate, joined us on the field with his family at the end of 2019. Together, we pastor Nakaale Presbyterian Church, teach and evangelize in the community, produce translated materials (hopefully eventually to include all the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity), and disciple
young men who appear called to serve as church officers. These men are faithful and sincere Christians. Training them is one of the greatest joys of our work, and we are very hopeful that the Lord will use some of them to lead and establish His church in that place.