By: Dale Dubose
My name is Dale. I began studying at SEBTS right out of high school in 2011. I was uncertain as to a career/ministry path, but I knew I wanted a strong foundation in biblical studies. I chose to pursue a B.A. in music and Christian studies. Through my time on campus, taking theology, Old and New Testament, Hebrew and other core classes, I developed a strong desire for the noble task of pastoral ministry. This desire was firmed up through faithful brothers in my small group at Treasuring Christ Church. I met my theologian-wife on campus during the first week of school, and we married two years later. My wife, Meriana, pushed me to do something about this desire and calling rather than perpetually talking and praying about it. Even though I had not yet finished my undergraduate, we made a big move four hours away into the foothills of North Carolina to work part-time as a youth pastor at an SBC church. The pastor left only a few months after our arrival. This was a hard transition for my family and the church. Through nine months of praying, waiting and hearing from different interim ministers, the church called me to be their senior pastor and, with fear and trembling, I said yes at the age of 23.
Since then, I have graduated from SEBTS and I am now pursuing the advanced M.Div. I am happy to say that since graduation, I am pursuing the heavy work of church revitalization at the same church God led us to. We are in the Bible belt, but we are also in a town stricken with poverty and rampant drug abuse. It is a lonely place. It is a hard place. It is a dark place. It is a place in desperate need of the gospel. Our church, in the heart of what the street people call "crack-town" (cocaine) was established in the sixties. It led our association in membership for about 10 years with around 700 members. As the economy died and the local factories began to close, much of the town became destitute and jobless, turning to drugs and alcohol. At the same time, our church lost a faithful pastor, and hired a bad one. A couple years later, he was fired, and the church was left with many sorrows. Today, the church has about 65 members. We are slowly becoming the church of crack-town that treasures growing in Christ, gathering together for the sake of unity in his body and going to fulfill Great Commission where we live and across the lands. We have had nine new members this past year and six baptisms. The Lord has been faithful to begin breathing new life into a place that was built on a solid foundation, which is Jesus Christ. We are returning to our roots, recognizing the need for change and simply resting on the gospel above all traditions.
This has been the hardest year of my life. However, I reflect on Paul and Barnabas' mission to Antioch and Jerusalem in Acts 14, where Paul was nearly stoned to death. Paul went back to these towns to encourage the elders and the churches planted saying, "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). I'm thankful that Southeastern has prepared me well along with personal discipleship and mentorship received from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Manning, South Carolina and Treasuring Christ Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Lord has also given me an incredible partner in ministry, Meriana, who has been a constant supporter, a patient friend and a selfless burden-sharer. Leaving the campus of Southeastern was difficult, but the faculty has trained me to GO. If you are a student reading this, I challenge you to break the blessed bubble of campus life. Get out of there. Go to a dying church. Help plant a church in a place where there are no churches. Preach the gospel. There are thousands of churches that need you not only in North Carolina but also in all of North America and the many other Christ-less nations upon this globe. And don't wait until you're 30 years old like Jesus. GO NOW. I'm grateful that I can continue my education through distance learning and still have personal mentors off-campus. If God can use a 23-year-old sinner and failure like me, he can use you. Christ is wisdom, not life experiences. Lean on him hard. Don't perpetually talk and pray about ministry. Let Christ's power work through you. Go do something.