People of Influence, Issue #1

I’m beginning a new series today that highlights the people in my life who have shaped me. I want to use this as an opportunity to say thank you to them, and also to help point those of you who read this in the direction of individuals who are at the forefront of their field. Today I want to begin by focusing on those people who have helped shaped me in the academic arena. They will represent teachers/professors from my education which includes being homeschooled through my high school graduation, my B.A. in Theology from The Baptist College of Florida and my M.Div. work at Midwestern Seminary.

Paul & Cheryl Fries

Influence #1: Cheryl Fries Homeschool Teacher

As a homeschool student my mother obviously had a tremendous influence on my life. Though she often felt inadequate, she put in a tremendous amount of time and effort and her diligence during my high school years helped me to move quickly though those areas where I had interest and aptitude (i.e. English, history, etc.) and she helped me work at a more intentional pace through topics that proved more challenging for me (i.e. mathematics). My mom’s diligence allowed me to graduate from high school having achieved a level of scholastic achievement that would have allowed me entrance into basically any undergraduate school in the country.

Dr. Bill Cook

Influence #2: Dr. Bill Cook Professor of New Testament & Greek

I have known Dr. Cook since I was 14 years old as his family and mine were involved in the same homeschool group in Northwest Florida. Dr. Cook instilled in me a love for the New Testament but particularly for the gospels. My love for the gospel of Luke, especially, began under his tutelage. Aside from his classroom academic exercises, his personal testimony, which he shared at the beginning of our time at BCF, highlighted for me the depth of passion with which Dr. Cook related to Christ. After that, Dr. Cook was also one of the first teacher’s that I knew that held to a strong biblical theology while also applying a contemporary methodology within church life. That commitment was the beginning, for me, of a long walk towards the concept of biblical integrity married with cultural relevance which is such a priority for me today.

Influence #3: Dr. Rick Freeman Professor of Old Testament

Although Dr. Freeman and I have significant differences in our theology, his personal commitment to a biblical education sparked in me a passion for Old Testament preaching in particular. To this day I my balance of Old Testament vs. New Testament preaching maintains almost an exact 50/50 split in great part due to his teaching. Dr. Freeman’s faithfulness in the classroom and his personal encouragement in my life taught me to think critically about all that I believe. He showed me the necessity of “knowing” what I believe due to my diligence with the biblical text, rather than due to my adherence to the teaching of others. To this day Dr. Freeman remains the strongest encourager that I have from my academic experience, post graduation. On multiple occasions I have received shipments of books from his personal library as he desires to sharpen me.

Influence #4: Dr. Ron Rogers Professor of Missions

My experience with Dr. Rogers has been unfortunately too short. I knew of Dr. Rogers through his influence in my dad’s life. I had the privilege of having him as a professor for only one semester before he left Midwestern and returned to the mission field. Dr. Rogers taught me much about maintaining a significant level of passion in my pursuit of academic excellence. I can still recall a time when I was overwhelmed with seminary. Dr. Rogers took a moment with me to encourage me and I will never forget his quote when he told me that seminary was good, but could potentially drain my passion for Christ and people. His words, “Micah, don’t ever let them take away your passion,” continues to ring in my ears.

Dr. Robin Hadaway

Influence #5: Dr. Robin Hadaway Professor of Missions

I have stated on this blog concerning my differences with Dr. Hadaway. In a variety of areas he and I have chosen to disagree, particularly about missions methodology. Having said that, however, I have never in my life been more thankful for the missions education that I have received from Dr. Hadaway. Beyond that, Dr. Hadaway is a hero to me for his commitment to going to the hard places with the gospel. Dr. Hadaway was our first IMB missionary in the Sudan and helped to begin a Church Planting Movement there. I have a tremendous commitment to missions, and I am immeasurably more equipped in the area of missions methodology due to Dr. Hadaway’s diligence in the classroom.