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A Wonderful, Unexpected, Circuitous Journey

A Wonderful, Unexpected, Circuitous Journey

Ontario Bible College: 1968 - 1998

Seventeen graduates from four generations attending four institutional eras of Tyndale – London College of Bible and Mission (LCBM), Toronto Bible College (TBC), Ontario Bible College (OBC) and present-day Tyndale. This might be something most people would boast about, but for Dave Roberts [BRE 1984], it is mostly a matter of gratitude.

Dave’s grandparents were the first to come to the school. During their day, there was a battle over a move towards liberal theology in the churches and their own denomination-connected schools. TBC was multi-denominational and one of the few Christian schools they felt they could choose with a clear conscience. Dave’s parents had far more choice in schools in the post-Second World War era. In the end, TBC was their choice. Who could ignore the family heritage connection?

Dave did not start his university education at OBC; he was running away from God when he spent two years studying at McMaster University. After that unsuccessful attempt, Dave came to what was then OBC. He chose OBC because it continued to have a good reputation in the evangelical world and he wanted to be challenged. “I was needing to personalize my faith, and I felt the interdenominational context would expose me to some discomfort and challenge me in the areas needed. I was right.” said Dave. He entered the Bachelor of Religious Education (BRE) program in pastoral studies never thinking he would use his degree in the pastorate. Now Dave is the Director of Church Care Ministries at West Highland Baptist Church in Hamilton.

“I was needing to personalize my faith, and I felt the interdenominational context would expose me to some discomfort and challenge me in the areas needed. I was right.”

It has been a wonderful, unexpected, circuitous journey. “The year as a Resident Advisor was highly formative for me in terms of ministry philosophy,” says Dave. “There was pushback from dependence to interdependence, a philosophy of leadership development that I experienced as a student and then on staff.” Dave joined the community life staff, doing student recruitment, during his last year as a student, in 1984. Then he and his wife Sandy were hired as resident directors and stayed on until 1988. Accommodations were already being made for students who wanted to attend classes and not live on campus.

Dave and Sandy were challenged by two guest speakers at OBC. As their God-given dissatisfaction with the status quo in Canada increased, they started speaking with different mission organizations and moved to Zambia. They spent the majority of their first term at the grassroots level of church work before working at the local Bible college. They discovered that there was one trained pastor for every 23 churches in Zambia. It became obvious that non-academic, oral-based lay leadership development was actually the greatest need for their ministry partner, the Evangelical Church in Zambia. The program they helped develop became a national program that now serves over 800 churches.

When they returned to Canada in 2002, Dave was approached by Dr. Bob Morris, who was directing the Tyndale Intercultural Ministries (TIM) Centre at the time, about the possibility of a missions mentor role on Tyndale’s student life team, a role Dave eventually stepped into. He found himself working with a team that felt much like the community life team that he worked with in the 1980s.

As Dave sees it, the whole value in every undergraduate Christian program is the formation and ownership of faith. It’s also in community, that thing that happens with a certain group of people for a certain amount of time that creates lifelong friendships and a place to come back to no matter how far you have travelled or for how long.

“Our Tyndale heritage has helped us become what I would call ‘big K’ kingdom people,” says Dave. “Our commitments and fellowship and partnerships have always been interdenominational. These have certainly enriched our own lives, challenged and grown our faith, and offered us the privilege and opportunity of walking with and impacting many individuals and ministries around the world.”