I had just finished my junior year in high school in 1993 when I went on a youth mission trip to Homestead, Florida. Hurricane Andrew had ripped through there a year before, and there were still mountains of rubble and many without homes. Two churches joined together to take a bunch of Sr. Highs down there to help: Fourth Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC (my church for the first 27 years of my life) and this church, First Presbyterian Church of Spartanburg.
On the night before we began our work, it was my turn to help lead the evening devotions for the group. The two pastors on the trip (Todd Speed and Wayne Cole) suggested that I look at Ephesians 4. Now, my experience with scripture at that point had mainly been having a Sunday School teacher or the minister explain a passage to me in Sunday School or in worship. But that night, for the first time that I can remember, I tried to read and understand a passage of scripture myself and to interpret it for others. And as I read over the first half of Ephesians 4, I found real meaning in it for myself - meaning that I could convey to others as well. That night, I found that I already had some skill at interpreting and applying a passage of the Bible, and that I really enjoyed it. And while I didn't know it at the time, that experience and that passage from Ephesians would change my life!
Reading about God's gifts and God's calling in Ephesians 4 set me on a quest to discover my own gifts and to understand them in light of God's calling - to seek out what God would have me do with those gifts to build up the church. That quest occupied me through the remainder of my high school years and into college and seminary. That quest led me to even more passages like 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and 1 Peter 4. That quest led me to the writings of people like Frederick Buechner, who wrote that, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." That quest led me, the son of two school teachers and the grandson of a Presbyterian pastor, into educational ministry in the church. And, thanks be to God, that quest led me to you.
About the Contributor
Craig is a native of Greenville, South Carolina. He has been the Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at FPC since August 2009. He enjoys cycling and anything else outdoors, along with his wife Kellie and their three children, Jack, Sam and Grace.