I earned an M.Div from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary's Distance Education program. Translation: I was an online student when online education was taking a beating from brick-and-mortar highbrows. I firmly believe I received an outstanding education, and the mission field was a large contributing factor. I was not in a position to pack up and move; but even if I was, I wanted to remain on the field. I was serving in ministry (full-time throughout most of my Master's season). I was working with people. And Salt Lake was (and still is) a lost city. It made little sense to move from here to a seminary. Why would I leave the field where I'm ministering to learn to do ministry? So the option of online education looked good.
Today, I have a missionary working with me in our effort to plant the Gospel. He's on my staff at Redeeming Life Church although he's entirely supported by funds he raises from outside our area. His name is Brett Ricley and he's a blessing.
Brett's official title is Minister of Outreach and Discipleship, but really, he does so much more. He serves on our worship team, often as the leader. He preaches about once a month, likely more in the future. He's engaging in lots of evangelism. He leads a House Fellowship. Brett and I pray together a lot. And he works closely with me to shore up my weaknesses, act as a sounding board, and sometimes call me out when I need called out. He's faithful in all the little details and always seems happy to pick up the little behind-the-scenes things. It would be tough to do this ministry without him. So you can imagine how nervous I was when I suggested he go to seminary.
By the grace of God, he too felt that remaining in the mission field was wise. I know seminary will help sharpen Brett's field-test skills and offer him some new tools too. (If it weren't so, I wouldn't have suggested he go.) But I also know that it might be financially difficult. He raises all of his support just to remain in the field. How will he manage to afford such an opportunity?
I was in the same circumstance when considering Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary for a Doctorate of Ministry. I encouraged Brett to apply and pray. And I'm glad I did. Brett was awarded the Caskey Church Planting Scholarship from Golden Gate. This scholarship is specifically intended for church planters who want to remain in the field. Thanks to this scholarship, Brett can enroll part time (because the scholarship doesn't cover enough for full time tuition) and continue to serve in Salt Lake City. In addition, going through seminary this way means he'll not only be able to serve, but he'll be able to learn in real-life circumstances.
I'm extremely thankful for those that have made it possible for Brett to serve here. I'm also thankful for Golden Gate and the Caskey Scholarship. Please join me in praying for Brett's educational process as well as his financial support. And, if you feel so inclined, he could probably use Amazon gift cards to buy books!