By: Jacob Dunlow
I could hardly have imagined the direction God would take my life when I walked into my first seminary class at SEBTS in the fall of 2006 (it was an 8am evangelism class with Dr. Reid). At the time I was a single, 22-year-old recent college grad (let’s go ODU!). I knew God had called me into the ministry and my local church also confirmed God’s calling on my life, yet I was still quite unsure what that calling would look like.
Today, 11 years and two SEBTS degrees later, I am a married, father of two serving Vassar Road Baptist Church here in Poughkeepsie, NY. While I had always hoped that some of these things would happen (married, kids, graduating), I never imagined I would serve, yet alone live, in New York. However, serving these people, ministering in this difficult spiritual environment, has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. God, in his grace, has allowed me this privilege, and he used my time at SEBTS to help prepare me for this ministry assignment. While at SEBTS, I was equipped with tools and skills necessary to minister in an unchurched environment and to shepherd the revitalization of a faithful flock.
Poughkeepsie is an interesting place. Settled in the Hudson Valley, we are heavily influenced by our historic colleges (Vassar and Marist Colleges), a technology giant (IBM) and the area’s rich natural beauty. These influences have worked together to create a highly educated, highly secular culture. Gospel ministry in such a place as this is both challenging and rewarding, as we believers are able to see God do a work in someone’s life that didn’t seem probable.
There are several things that I would ask for you to pray for as you read this:
● Gospel fruit - Poughkeepsie is about four percent evangelical, which puts it in the bottom 30 cities in the United States. Pray that people would be converted and that we would be bold with the gospel.
● Church planting - Poughkeepsie sets in Dutchess County, New York, which has a population of 300,000 people and only two SBC churches. That’s one SBC church for every 150,000 people. Pray that God would open doors and provide partnerships for new churches to be planted.
● College ministry - Pray for our college students, that they would have an impact for the gospel on their campuses.
● ESL ministry - Pray for this ministry to grow as we seek to reach the nations for Christ here in Poughkeepsie.
Finally, I would like to encourage current and future students to pursue godliness as they pursue academics. You never know what God might have you do for his Kingdom, so cultivate a life of passion for God so that you will be a good instrument in the Redeemer's hand.