This last Friday was our annual RTS-Charlotte Senior Banquet. This is an opportunity for graduating seniors to share about what the seminary has meant to them. One of the great encouragements of every calendar year is hearing what amazing experiences our students have had here.
One of our seniors, a man from Kenya, Africa, has been away for his family for four years while he has been in seminary. What an amazing sacrifice. At one point in the evening he said, “One of the greatest things that has happened in my life has happened at RTS.”
Because of their very positive experience at RTS Charlotte, our alumni often prove to be life long supporters of the school. They pray for us, encourage us, keep up with us, and, most importantly, send us new students headed into ministry.
One of those alumni that does all these things (and more) is my friend, David Rea (class of 1999). Even though David graduated before I arrived at RTS Charlotte, over the years he has become a dear friend. Not only is he one of our most avid supporters, but he is a wonderful example of the kind of pastor we are trying to produce. He is theologically sound, word-centered, passionate about preaching, and has a shepherd’s heart.
Here is how David answered our alumni questions:
1. What are you currently doing?
I am the pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
Originally, I only planned on attending RTS-Charlotte for a semester and then transfer to another seminary. However, my experience at RTS was so rich, encouraging, and transformative, I quickly decided to stay put.
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
Dr. Cara – and I can still hear it now – always said, “be as balanced as the Bible is balanced.” That phrase (and its implications) has always stayed with me.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
Preaching and ministering the Word of God – in a variety of contexts – is my favorite part of pastoral ministry. A close second would be pastoral counseling which I am privileged to do on a regular basis.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
Preaching and teaching – while being a true delight and joy – has also been a tremendous challenge. Every week I am humbled and amazed (truly I am) that Christ would use someone like me to minister His Gospel. In every sermon, by the grace of God, I try to improve as a preacher and communicator of God’s Word.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
The commitment to full-time vocational ministry in the context of a local church is more challenging than most seminarians can fathom. It certainly has been for me. My challenge and encouragement to seminarians (or even those prayerfully considering seminary) is to ask the pastors, professors, and Christian friends with whom they are close, and whose opinion and judgment they respect, to give honest and unvarnished feedback regarding their giftedness, aptitude, and fitness for ministry. In addition to a perceived sense of calling, it is my view that there needs to be a ministry aptitude – even if it’s in seed form – on the front end.
Here is a fantastic and moving video about David and his experience at RTS: