What particular truths or experiences that you gained from WSC do you find most important and valuable now?
There are three particular truths that I gained from Westminster Seminary California (WSC) that are of constant blessing and encouragement to me in my life and ministry: First, always preach the Gospel because you are always preaching to sinners, some who are not saved and some who are. Second, always teach Christ from every Scripture passage because He is the Bible’s main character, focus, and ultimate end. Third, always remember that a believer’s right standing before God depends not only on Christ’s perfect sacrifice for rule breakers, but also on Christ’s perfect obedience of God’s law on behalf of rule breakers.
Do you have any stories that illustrate the impact that WSC has made on your life and work?
While WSC could not have prepared me for every possible ministry context I would encounter, it did do something better: WSC inculcated and trained me in the fundamental truths of the Gospel and the perfect work of Jesus Christ. This teaching and training were invaluable to me, for example, when our Hispanic mission work in Chicago organized a week-long outreach event called Bible Soccer Camp for our neighborhood children. As I prepared for the camp, I realized that in order to effectively present the Gospel to kids who knew little or nothing about the Bible, I needed to do so in terms they would easily understand while not compromising the clear teaching of Scripture. So I developed a simple daily curriculum that presented the basic truths of the Gospel and the Bible using soccer terms and analogies.
On the first day of camp, the children learned that God made the game of life (Gen. 1:1, 27, 31), and, like soccer, God’s game of life has rules - to love God and others (Matt. 22:37-39). And just like soccer rules, God’s rules are meant to help us enjoy the game of life and to prevent others from getting hurt (Ps. 119:1-3).
On the second day, the children learned that we all commit fouls (or sins) against God and others with our selfish actions, words, and thoughts (Rom. 3:9-18; James 2:8-11). And just like in soccer, there is a penalty for our sins, and that penalty is a red card from God, which means we can no longer play in God’s game of life and must die (Rom. 6:23).
On the third day of camp, the children learned that just like there are substitute players in soccer, God has provided for us a very special Substitute Player named Jesus Christ, who is both God and human (John 1:1, 14). Jesus takes our place—by perfectly playing by God’s rules and by taking away our red card penalty for our sins (Rom. 5:8, 18-19)—if we trust and believe in Him as our only Substitute Player (John 3:16).
On the fourth day, the children learned that just like every soccer player needs a coach, God has provided every person who believes and trusts in Jesus with a Coach whose name is the Holy Spirit. Our Coach reminds us of the rules of God’s game of life (John 14:26), trains us to become better players (Gal. 5:25), and helps us to become more like Jesus (Rom. 8:29).
Lastly, on the fifth day of the Bible Soccer Camp, the children learned that just as no soccer player goes up against the opposing team alone but must play on a team with other players, every believer needs to play on God’s Team, called the Church. As a Team, we encourage and help each other to become better players (Eph. 4:11-16), we play together as one body against the opposing team (Eph. 6:10-13), and we have weekly practices (Heb. 10:24-25) where we practice what we will be doing for eternity—worshipping God.
By God’s grace, we were able to communicate the Gospel not only to the children during the week, but also to their parents and family members during a special exhibition game and presentation on the last day of camp. From several of our post-game conversations with these family members, it became clear to us that many of them heard the Gospel and began to understand it for the first time.
How does the Church benefit from the mission of WSC-to prepare pastors and leaders for Reformed churches?
Because God freely gave His very best to save us (John 3:16), we should, in turn, freely give God and His church our very best to thank Him. That means, for example, that if I’m called to the ministry, I should give God and His church my very best and do whatever it takes to receive the very best training and education for ministry. So if I’m called to the ministry but live in the middle of the Amazon jungle, the very best education and training might simply come from an experienced pastor and personal study of the Bible. But if I’m called to the ministry and live in the U.S., the very best education and training still can only really be found in seminaries. Giving God our very best also means that as His church, we should collectively support seminaries through our prayers and finances so that seminaries can continue to give the very best education and training to future ministers. And among the plethora of seminary options that exist in the United States, Westminster Seminary California remains, in my opinion, the best of the best.