SBTS grad’s next marching orders: hurry up and wait

Communications Staff — December 18, 2009

If Steven Chambers were to adopt a life motto it most certainly would be, “Hurry up and wait.”

Chambers graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in December and while many of his classmates are finding ministry positions across the globe, God is deepening Chambers’ trust in Him by having him wait for deployment to the foreign mission field.

Chambers’ desire for the nations has been cultivated and strengthened during his time at Southern, but the Lord has called he and his wife Christy to other things for now. This spring he will join the staff of a church in Georgia and enroll in another masters program, both moves that were not in his original plan. Chambers is the first to acknowledge the value that can come from both experiences and from accepting a change in plans. He speaks from experience.

While in high school, Chambers considered entering the military after graduation. Several of his relatives had armed service careers and it seemed like a natural fit. As graduation neared, Chambers’ plans were altered when he was presented the opportunity to attend Bryan College. A talented athlete, he was extended a scholarship to run track and cross country at the small Christian college in Dayton, Tenn.

Chambers gained a great deal from college; he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business, met Christy and developed a deep passion for unreached people groups.

“I had always had an interest and love for the local church but through my college I had the opportunity to go on some mission trips. I went to Nicaragua and Peru and I definitely think those were the highlights of college,” he said.

After graduation Chambers was unsure if he was ready to live the life of a full-time missionary but was also uncertain on how he could financially manage a seminary education. His thoughts returned to the military and he started pursuing advanced military training through the Coast Guard’s  Officer Candidate School.

But the Coast Guard placed Chambers on an applicant waiting list, a source of frustration for Chambers, who describes himself as “a very driven person.” Waiting encouraged Chambers to think and pray more about seminary. A friend had attended Southern and encouraged Chambers to send in an application. He did, and Southern, specifically the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, welcomed Chambers into the master of divinity program in fall 2007.”The year before I started at Southern, I had no idea that I would be here,” he said. “A door got shut on the path that I thought I was headed down and I ended up coming here. It was hard at first, the academics were very challenging to me, but I have really enjoyed it,” Upon arriving at Southern, Chambers initiated a rapport with the local representative of the International Mission Board and has since greatly valued that relationship. His coursework reaffirmed his desire to serve on the international mission field with Christy. Married in 2008, the couple desires to serve in North Africa. Chambers graduated in December 2009 with a master of divinity in Great Commission Ministries, four months after he and Christy welcomed their first child, Andrew. The current economic instability has changed the couples’ plans temporarily. With the IMB experiencing funding limitations and the young couple having a new-born baby, the Chambers were advised by individuals at the IMB to further strengthen Steven’s ministry experience and business training with a master of business administration degree.

Bottom line: the mission field waits.  In the meantime, Chambers is joining the staff of Woolsey Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., as adult ministries director. Overseeing Sunday school, pastoral care and church mission work will provide him the opportunity for hands-on church ministry as he works toward his MBA through a local university.  The Chambers feel abundantly blessed to be in Georgia, where they are near family and in a church that has been welcoming. They will keep in contact with the IMB while Steven completes his MBA and will happily wait on the Lord. Chambers doesn’t resent his change in plans; rather he sees it as an opportunity that will strengthen his future usefulness on the field.  “I have a passion for unreached, Muslim people groups in the developing world. Those things are on my heart. I really want to use my business degree to bring value to their infrastructure but our ultimate goal is to see people become believers and to see churches get planted, and then grow and develop,” he said. “I believe that God uses works and means, and with my understanding and background in business, I foresee myself using that as a legitimate platform to meet needs and share Christ.”

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