Who Am I?  Part 9

My last article, “Finding a Good Wife”, brings us up to May 11, 1984.  One week prior to our wedding day, I was dressed up for different reasons over the weekend.  This previous weekend was my graduation from Alberta Bible College with my Bachelor of Religious Education degree.  Sadly, my dear grandmother died on that Friday of grad weekend.  I was honored to receive the “Outstanding Student of the Year” award at the banquet, but my thoughts were with my grandmother that day.

Needless to say, we had quite the busy week.  Grad Banquet on Friday, Senior Student’s Service on Saturday, Grad Ceremony on Sunday, funeral for Grandma on Thursday and immediately following that our Rehearsal Party, the Wedding Day on Friday, and then the start of our one-week Honeymoon on Saturday.  And needless to say, Jill and I were exhausted even before we started our honeymoon.

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During our honeymoon, we finally had a chance to talk with each other about our future and what decisions lay ahead.  I had just finished four years of Bible College, and I was grateful for the excellent teaching I received there.  But one thing I noticed during my time there was that the classes and the practical work at ABC was primarily aimed at training young men for pastoral ministry.

Again, I am very grateful for that training.  But my heart’s desire was to return to active overseas mission ministry.  I would have to say that there were times that I got frustrated in my college classes.  Sometimes in class when the professor would ask for questions I would say, “I understand the principles you are teaching, but can you help me apply those principles in a developing country with a non-Western culture?”  And I often got the reply, “That’s a good question, but I don’t have the experience to know how to answer your question.”

It would be at those moments that I knew I would have to seek training elsewhere to fill this gap of knowledge and teaching.  What I really needed was to find another school with a good Missiology program.  We have never had too many options here in Canada, and so I looked toward the only school in western Canada that had a graduate missions program, Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan.

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Even before I had finished my degree at ABC, I sent in my application to CTS.  But for unclear reasons (possibly that ABC was not accredited at that time), I was not accepted into their school.  This was quite a challenge for Jill and I to know what to do.  But someone suggested that we try to start some graduate work at Regent College in Vancouver.

And that is what I did.  I spent the first semester at Regent and studied under some world-class professors.  One of my teachers was Dr. J. I. Packer (a brilliant theologian), and another was Dr. Bruce Waltke (one of the best Hebrew and OT professors).  What a privilege that was for me.  The vast writings of both of these men have had profound impact on my life as a Christian.  (Check out my article of how you can order Christian books by men like these.)

At much as I valued the training available at Regent, what I still wanted was some good teaching on missions theory and practice.  So while in Vancouver, I applied again to CTS in Regina, and this time I was accepted, seeing as I had already started a graduate program.  So in just seven months, Jill and I had to pack up everything again and move back over the mountains to go live in the flat, bald prairies of Saskatchewan.

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It did not take very long for me to know that Canadian Theological Seminary was exactly what I was looking for.  CTS is part of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination, and they have been instrumental in pioneering mission work around the world for over 125 years.  Many teachers had done some mission work themselves, and almost every guest speaker who came through the halls were veteran missionaries.

The two and a half years that I spent at CTS were some of the best days of my schooling.  Even though I was not a member of the C & MA denomination, pretty much all of the teachers and students there accepted me and Jill as fellow Christians who also shared the same passion for missionary work for God.  It was quite common to catch some of us in the halls or in the lunch room casually talking about plans to go somewhere in the world later that year or the next.

In fact, Jill and I were able to go on summer missions twice while I did my three-year Master of Divinity degree.  We went with Teen Missions as leaders of a team of teenagers to Dominican Republic in 1985 and to Mexico in 1986.  You can read other experiences that I have had with Teen Missions by clicking here and you will see what a great impact TMI has had on my life.

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I should mention that I did not quite finish my full program in three years to graduate in the Spring class of ’87.  I had one course left to do, which I took through a correspondence school.  So finally, in April of ’88, while Jill and I were in Texas (and that will be the next story in two weeks), I received my degree.  And I can still hear my Dad’s funny comment at that time, “So!  Does this mean now that you are a Master Pastor?”

Until next story, may God bless you on your journey of learning and living for our Lord.

Stormin’ Norman