From the Classroom to the Pulpit
David Cotner graduated from Faith Baptist Bible College last May and immediately began serving full-time as the pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church in Washington, Iowa (He had been serving the church as the part-time pastor for several months before graduation.) So in one month he went from a chair in the classroom to the pulpit of the church. Here is David’s story.
What program did you graduate from at Faith?
I graduated from the Pastoral Training program with a minor in Greek.
Tell us a little about your wife and kids.
Absolutely! My wife, Heather, is the love of my life. We met while I was in the Army, serving overseas in Iraq. We started off as pen-pals, and the rest is history! We have two kids (a girl and a boy), and we just celebrated four years of marriage on July 10! And let me tell you, four years of marriage is just as effective as Bible college (if not more so) in teaching you how to be a shepherd-teacher. Let me explain. Bible college will teach you what theology is; a wife will teach you how to put that theology into practice. Bible college will teach you what to preach; a wife will teach you how to practice what you preach. Bible college will teach you what really matters in life; a wife will teach you why it really matters in life!
Where are you from, and how did the Lord lead you to Faith?
I am from Pensacola, Florida. Basically, God used a music CD from Faith to impress upon me the need to look at Faith for my schooling. As I looked at Faith, I realized that Faith’s core values were the same as mine. That is to say, Faith is committed to producing effective Christian leaders, maintaining excellence in the realm of academics, and following Jesus no matter the cost. These things are important to Faith, they are important to me, and I benefited greatly from the Faith experience.
How did God use Faith in your life to prepare you for where you are today?
Without the Faith experience, I would not be where I am today. In other words, it was at Faith that I learned that preaching is more than a fancy alliterated outline. Preaching is theology that catches fire! At Faith I learned to preach with passion. It was at Faith that I learned that leadership takes hard work and that sometimes things are more complex than they initially look. At Faith I learned to trust a sovereign God, point people to a Book with all of the answers. At Faith I was reminded that at the cross of Christ we can always find forgiveness, hope, and all the grace we will ever need!
What do you think was the most beneficial aspect of your program?
My pastoral internship and my involvement in my local church in Ankeny were the most beneficial aspects to my program. In the classroom I was equipped with the knowledge of ministry, but it was during my internship and the time spent serving in my local church that I actually got to put into practice the things I was learning in the classroom. These experiences were invaluable and prepared me well for life and ministry as a pastor.
How did God lead you to Prairie Flower Baptist Church?
Basically, I took opportunities as they were presented to me. I was given the opportunity to fill the pulpit at Prairie Flower, and the Lord continued to move us toward that church. We are a church located in the middle of a cornfield, but don’t underestimate us! Exciting things are happening here, and I am thrilled to be a part of what God is doing in southeast Iowa!
In your transition from student to pastor how did you see God . . .
At work? God provided wisdom, discernment, energy, and strength all along the way. I definitely prayed like it was all up to God, but I worked like it was all up to me. In the end, God orchestrated all the events of my life (big and small) to bring me to where I am today.
Answer prayer? Halfway through Bible college, my prayer was that God would transform my desires to align with His will for my life. At the beginning of my training at Faith, I desired to be a big city church pastor. God had other plans. He answered my prayer, and I can safely say that I am most satisfied with being a pastor in the middle of a cornfield. Is this where I thought I would end up? Absolutely not! But it’s exactly where God wants me, and I’m truly content with that.
Show His faithfulness? God is faithful. I don’t need to have the next fifty years mapped out; I just need to be faithful to Him today. Ultimately, I am reminded, day after day, that God requires faithfulness of His servants, not outward signs of success. So I will be faithful in a cornfield, during the sunshine and the rain, and no matter what happens I know He will always be faithful to me!
Dr. Keith Kobelia Joins the Faith Faculty—August 2014
Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the calling of Dr. Keith Kobelia to succeed the recently retired Dr. John Hartog II in the Bible and Theology Department. Dr. Kobelia is an alumnus of both our college (B.S.) and seminary (M.A. and M.Div.). He received his Th.M. degree in New Testament Studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. degree in Bible Exposition from Dallas Theological Seminary.
1. How did the Lord lead you to Faith?
When I was a teenager, I felt called to serve the Lord. This desire for ministry was encouraged by the pastor of the church through whose ministry I was saved, and after high school I attended a Bible institute for three years. I wanted to complete a bachelor's degree and then continue on for seminary training. I did not know much about FBBC&TS, but some individuals recommended looking into Faith. I visited Faith and was convinced that it would be a good fit for me. I was attracted by its conservative stance and the academic nature of its seminary program. Although I looked into other schools, I chose Faith, and I have never regretted that decision.
2. Where did you meet your wife, and how did the Lord bring you together?
One of the blessings of my time at Faith was meeting my wife, Elizabeth. Our relationship started when I was a senior in college, and I invited her to the spring banquet. Then we got to know each other on the trip Faith's Chorale took to Europe that summer. After getting to know Elizabeth, I knew this was another good fit. We were married in June of 1998.
3. Tell us about your family.
We have five children: Luke (12), Christina (10), Timothy (7), Bethany (5), and Karis (2). Each of them is sweet in their own special way. We desire to see each of them make good decisions, act according to God's Word, and serve the Lord wherever He may lead them in the future.
4. What were some of the highlights of your years at Faith?
• Meeting my wife, Elizabeth
• Involvement in several school activities, especially soccer and Chorale
• A solid Biblical and theological foundation on which to build advanced degrees
• Serving at Maranatha Baptist Church of Grimes in teaching, music, and leadership
• Gaining a sense of direction for ministry. When I came to Faith, I wanted to serve the Lord in vocational Christian service. My undergraduate degree is in pastoral ministries; however, in the course of my seminary training I began to think about a teaching ministry. Dr. John Hartog II first planted in my mind the seed to consider teaching. Ironically (or providentially), it is Dr. Hartog's faculty position which I am now filling fifteen years later. I feel that the Lord has placed me in a position to help train pastors and other church workers for Christian ministry.
5. What degrees did you earn at Faith?
I graduated with a B.S. in pastoral ministries in 1996, an M.A. in theology in 1997, and an M.Div. in 1999.
6. Tell us about your years at Central Seminary. What degree did you earn and how were you involved in church ministry?
I was at Central Baptist Seminary in Plymouth, Minnesota, for four years and in that time I earned a Th.M. in New Testament. I was challenged academically and introduced to a broader sphere of independent Baptists. While in Minnesota, we attended Fourth Baptist Church and were involved in choir and children's ministries. The most exciting and life-changing event in our time in Minnesota was the birth of our first son, Luke.
7. Tell us about your years at Dallas Seminary. What degree did you earn and how were you involved in church ministry?
We came to Dallas in 2003 with the goal of completing a Ph.D. in Bible Exposition. At DTS I was able to hone research skills and to spend much time focused specifically on the study of the Bible. While it was not easy (especially the dissertation), by God's grace we made it through. After many years of labor, my degree was conferred upon me in January of 2014. Our family grew a lot while we were in Texas. Our four younger children (Christina, Timothy, Bethany, and Karis) are all Texans. The entire time we were in Texas we were active in a small independent Baptist church in the city of Sachse. Here I was able to serve and utilize my ministry training in a number of ways. I was involved in virtually every aspect of ministry. Elizabeth and I desire to use this experience to help others as they prepare to serve the Lord in local churches. I also taught at Seminario Batista Regular do Sul in Pinhias, Brazil.
8. How did your education at Faith prepare you for your further degrees and for returning to Faith to teach?
Faith was a formative influence upon my theological views and my burden for local church ministry. I am excited to have the opportunity to return to Faith. I desire to pass on the Biblical knowledge, theological views, and conservative values to individuals who will be leaders in local churches (2 Tim. 2:2). While many things have changed at Faith since I was a student, I am thankful for the continuity of teaching from the time I was a student until the present
9. What role do you see Faith playing in Christian higher education?
I believe Faith has and will continue to have a vital role in training individuals for ministry in local churches. Especially with the changing landscape in the Bible College scene, Faith, with its specific focus on preparing leaders for Christian ministry, fills a vital role in training pastors, missionaries, and others who will be church leaders in the context of conservative doctrine and values.
10. What special joys and challenges do you anticipate in preparing to teach at Faith?
It is always a joy and privilege to teach the Bible. I can think of nothing more enjoyable than helping others understand the Bible more clearly. So the opportunity to teach the Bible at Faith is very exciting to me. I also count it a joy to serve along with the other faculty members that the Lord has brought to Faith. I am impressed by the camaraderie shared by the Bible and theology professors at Faith. I know there will be challenges for my family as we move, find a place to live, and get settled. I also expect challenges as I develop notes and prepare for classes as a new professor. In these challenges, I am confident that the Lord will give us grace and help in our time of need. He has been faithful to us in every challenge in the past, and we rely upon Him as we move forward.
Church Plant Planting a Church—April 2014
Willi and Heidi (Kendall) Slischewski met at Faith (they actually got married in the Student Center) and returned to Willi’s native Germany to begin a church plant. They have been in the United States for a few months on a short deputation trip. The Faith Alumni Assocation wishes Willi and Heidi God's best in their new ministry in Germany.
Tell us what you have done and where you have been since you graduated from Faith.
Heidi and I moved back to Germany in December of 2009. There we got involved at Freie Baptistengemeinde Ingolstadt (Independent Baptist Church of Ingolstadt). Heidi had to learn the language and I started to work a full-time job in retail.
We both started to have different responsibilities at church. Heidi was involved in children’s ministries, playing piano, and women’s ministries. I had opportunities to teach, preach, plan church events, and write lesson plans.
Heidi, share with us your thoughts about living in Germany the past couple years.
It has been an interesting and exciting time adjusting to the German culture. The biggest adjustments came in the beginning in getting used to hearing German spoken all the time! God has blessed and I have been able to see His hand in so many aspects. I was able to learn the language rather quickly with the help of my German husband and his family. Another big adjustment is being away from home and my own family. Of course, I miss them, but I know God’s plan for me is bigger than what I can imagine. I still have lots to learn and am looking forward to what God will teach me in Germany in the coming years.
Tell us about your children.
Sophia Grace (03/02/2011) loves to sing and look at books, go to children’s church, mix up German and English when she speaks, and play with Daddy.
Olivia Joy (03/23/2013) is a smiling, happy little girl who loves to wave hello, goodbye, and clap. She cannot get enough time with Mommy.
Why did you come to the United States for a few months?
We are in the States for three months to visit churches and present our ministry in Germany. Willi took something like “maternity leave” that allowed him to be away from his job so long. Our goal is to raise enough support from churches and individuals to be able to have to work only part-time when we return to Germany.
Trace the background of the church in Ingolstadt.
In 1987 Charles Ellis started our church along with Virgil Bunjer. In 2004 the church called a national pastor, Christoph Ruttgers, who was a convert of the ministry there and trained by the missionaries in the church. The church became independent of missionaries in 2005. Willi has been chosen as team leader of a church plant about 30 minutes away from the current location of the church.
Give us an approximate timeline for your church planting plans.
Upon our return to Germany, we will search for an apartment and relocate to the city where the church will be started. From there we will reach out to students as well as the older and younger generations. We anticipate meeting in our home in the years to come until there is a solid group and we are able to afford a building. Another goal is to gather a core group from our church in Ingolstadt to help with the church plant.
For both of you, please share how your time at Faith helped to shape you and prepare you for your ministry.
Heidi: It was amazing to see how God worked during my time at Faith. At the time I did not know He was preparing me for exactly what I would need for our future ministry in Germany. I changed majors multiple times and was still not sure what I wanted to do. Little did I know that the “overview” I received in several programs at Faith was the perfect combination of women’s ministries, counseling, and local church ministries I would need. I had the privilege of being a part of the South Africa team in 2009. This trip was instrumental in helping me to see that God had a plan for me in Germany. The atmosphere at Faith was so conducive to spiritual growth. Not only are the professors willing to help you and encourage you, but the students and staff are wonderful too. I am still thankful for the friends I made in college and the way God used them in my life.
Willi: My time at Faith has impacted my life in tremendous ways—friends, theology and ministry mindset are just a few. When I came to Faith I wanted to get a deeper insight into theology. Faith was recommended by a variety of people because of three main aspects: a solid Bible foundation with great professors, local church mindset, and a family flair with personal relationships with the teachers. I found that to be true after only being there for a couple of months. I appreciate those qualities even more today, five years after graduation.
Faith has impacted my life and ministry by helping me to shape my doctrine and philosophy. Two classes and teachers had a remarkable influence on me: Systematic Theology with Dr. Paul Hartog who challenged me to think through theology and know why I believe certain doctrines. That helped me to have a doctrinal foundation for the church plant. The second class was Church Music Administration with Dr. Van Hooser. There Doc made me think about the meaning of music from a Biblical stand and actually write a philosophy of church music. This exercise shaped my thinking about music in a great way and has helped me to know what we will do in our church plant.
Another impact that Faith had in an indirect way was through the surrounding churches. No matter which church I visited, a staff member from Faith was an active member at that church. There I was able to see how important the local church is to the teachers and see them practice what they preach (teach). The churches also helped me to broaden my horizon for the church plant in Germany. Even though there are certain differences in culture, language, and history in churches in Germany and the U.S., there are still foundational things to observe and learn. I have the privilege now to take what I have seen at the local churches (especially Ankeny Baptist Church where I was a member) and use it in the church plant in Eichstätt.
Not Retiring in Retirement—May 2014
This past May Steven Kuehn graduated from Faith Baptist Theological Seminary. He had just retired from a career at IBM, but he was not retiring. He and his wife, Linda, have begun a second career teaching in Bible colleges in developing nations. Let him tell you their story.
Tell us about your background in computers.
I started working with computers when I was in high school. I graduated first from Rochester Community College in Rochester, Minnesota, and I then enrolled in Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University – Mankato) where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. While at Mankato I met my wife, Linda. I then started working at IBM in Rochester, and we stayed there for 37 years! For the last 14 years I have been one of the lead people for IBM Electronic Support Web team. I retired just recently so Linda and I could serve in missionary work.
Where did you attend church?
While on a summer internship at IBM in Rochester, a friend told me about Calvary Baptist Church in the city. I loved the expository preaching at the church, and I became a member that fall. Linda and I have served there over the years.
How did you hear about FBTS?
In late 1970 or early 1980, we started supporting Faith. When we decided to go into missions and teach at Bible colleges in developing nations, I knew that a master's degree would be helpful, and my first choice was FBTS. I really liked the module structure because it allowed me to spread out my education while still working at IBM. I did not have to take a year off work to attend seminary. The goal was to complete my education over seven years. Then a year and half ago I realized that I could complete the work within the next 18 months, which was two years earlier than planned.
What were some of the highlights of your FBTS studies?
When I started at FBTS, I knew I was jumping into the frying pan, but I soon realized that I missed the frying pan and jumped right into the fire. I had no previous knowledge of some of the things I studied. But the Lord helped me, and I did well in the classes. I really enjoyed interacting with the other seminary students. And the module structure not only allowed me to spread out my education, but it also allowed me to spread out the cost. I was able to pay for all the expenses without taking out a loan.
How did the Lord direct you to your new ministry?
This is a long story spanning more than 30 years. Calvary Baptist Church has always been involved in missions. We met many missionaries over the years and had several of them in our home. Through our connections at the church we became involved in several mission projects at Doane Seminary and Bukidnon Seminary in the Philippines.
Seven years ago I went with Pastor Dwight LaPine to visit Bukidnon Seminary. During that trip I fell in love with the Filipino people and the seminary ministry. Then five years ago I realized that there was more to life than my job, which led me to start thinking about retirement. The Lord knew of our love for seminaries in developing nations and showed us that I could help them by teaching Bible and computers. That’s when I realized I needed more Bible training.
While attending the modules at FBTS, I took two other mission trips to the Philippines. I learned that the Bukidnon Seminary library had more than 6,000 books, but it did not even have a manual card catalog, let alone an electronic one. So we took this challenge and developed a missions project to provide the computers for the library. We raised the funds for the computers and took them to Bukidnon on the next trip.
One of the missionaries at Bukidnon Seminary had to go on extended furlough, so we began thinking about teaching there this fall. Then the Lord helped us realize that He could use us in several places to help “plug the holes” left when missionaries have to leave the field for a short time. So we now call our ministry “Plugging the Holes.” Since then we have received an invitation to teach at Doane Seminary for the second semester, another hole to plug. After that we know the Lord will lead us one step at a time.
What will you be doing in the Philippines?
At Bukidnon Seminary I am teaching Major Prophets, Dispensations, and an audio/video class, along with fielding hundreds of computer questions. Linda will be teaching a Christian Education class about designing bulletin boards and crafts for Sunday School or Vacation Bible School.
The second semester at Doane Seminary I will teach Old Testament Poetry, Baptist Polity (Ecclesiology), and Bible and Science—and again answer many computer questions. I will also be speaking at evangelistic meetings that will be held at the public universities. The Filipino culture will allow the speaker to change the subject at the end of the lecture, allowing me to speak on a subject of interest to the students and then give a gospel message. These meetings will be supported by the local churches that will follow up with anyone who believes the gospel.
How did FBTS prepare you for the work you are undertaking?
Faith went beyond basic Bible teaching and provided a Biblical and ministerial background that I never knew about. I was able to tailor my education to take Theology of Missions, Ministry of Teaching, and Preaching Seminar—all of which help me in my teaching ministry.
What counsel do you have for other believers who are nearing retirement?
Be open to what the Lord might have in store for you. Continue to learn, take opportunities to go on mission trips, expose yourself to new situations, and extend yourself to do something you have never done before. And you will be surprised what the Lord might do! You will be scared the first few times, but the more you expose yourself to the opportunities to do God’s will, the more He will strengthen you.
East Goes North—February 2014
Greg (’10) and Hannah (Alexander ’11) East finished their education at Faith and then headed north to serve as the assistant pastor and wife at Calvary Baptist Church in Ludington, Michigan.
What did you study at Faith?
Greg: I graduated from the Assistant Pastor/Youth program in the college, and I have taken classes toward the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies degree in the seminary.
Hannah: I graduated from the Administrative Assistant program [now called Office Administration].
When did you go to Ludington, Michigan?
We moved here in March of 2012 to begin our ministry. We have been here almost two years, and we are expecting our first child.
What is your ministry at Calvary?
I serve as the associate pastor of youth and Christian education.
How did your time at Faith prepare you for this position?
I believe my time at Faith was instrumental in giving me a sound understanding of the Scriptures. While I don't think any one place could fully prepare someone for the challenges that a pastor faces in ministry, I do believe that my time at Faith gave me the solid foundation I needed to get a good start. I have learned a lot of practical things ever since coming to this church, but the hours of study in the classroom gave me confidence in my teaching and preaching ministries.
What is your favorite part of your ministry?
I enjoy so many things about the ministry at Calvary.
• I love the pastoral relationship that I have with Pastor Yankee [Tim Yankee, ‘85].
• We have enjoyed building relationships with the people in our church. When we came, these people were just faces in a church directory, but now they are our friends and the people we love.
• We love working with the teens here. When we first came, we had only 3 teens attending Sunday School and youth group. After the first year, we grew to 8 teens who are excited about growing in Christ. One of the most rewarding things that we have been able to experience thus far is seeing one of the teens put into practice something that we have studied. I can echo the Apostle John in saying, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
What is the best advice you were given by a professor at Faith?
I thank God for the influence and impact that certain professors had on me.
• I find myself thankful for Dr. Brown's sermon preparation steps as I go back to them for every message I preach.
• I am thankful for the impact that Doctor Van [Dr. Irv Van Hooser] had on me. There is no one that I can think of that is more passionate about ministry than he is. He taught me a lot, not just vocally, but spiritually. (Don't tell him this, but I always saw him as kind of a grandpa . . . who is in really good shape!)
I also received encouragement from two other places that often go unnoticed.
• The Faith Admissions Office—When I was at school, these were people who encouraged me spiritually and often brightened a very busy, draining day with a lot of laughter and encouraging words. Without people like them in my life, college would have been far less enjoyable.
• Nevada Baptist Church—One of the most important places that helped me spiritually was Nevada Baptist Church [Nevada, Iowa], the church I attended during school. I am so thankful that Faith puts an emphasis on the local church, and I found my home away from home in Nevada. Everything pertaining to the practical side of ministry I learned at Nevada. (For those of you who are not from Iowa, the first “a” in Nevada is long, unlike the state by that name.)
Hannah and I both are so thankful for the role Faith played in our lives. We enjoy serving together at Calvary Baptist.
Recap of Presidential Installation ServiceSeptember 17
Find a story of the presidential installation service on September 17.
Missions ConferenceOctober 12–16
Attend this year's Missions Conference for a fresh look at worldwide missions.
Refresh ConferenceFebruary 9–12
A specialized conference for pastors and wives to refresh you in your ministry
Austin Plew, a former director of development at Faith, recently went to be with the Lord. Read More
Mark Davis, the director of admissions, has been appointed to be vice president of enrollment and student life. Read More
Faith welcomes Leanna Acree, Karis Cole, Bri Harrier, and Nick Payne to the staff. Read More
Dr. Paul Hartog, professor and librarian at Faith, has edited and contributed to a book on the early church fathers. Read More
Sherri Nicholson, an accomplished pianist and piano teacher, will join Faith's Music Department faculty this fall. Read More