Western Seminary: Trusting God, Painting and Classes

This is this Mount Saint Helen erupting, on May 18, 1980.

After I graduated from Northwestern, I very quickly started thinking about Seminary. It was my plan all along to go into some kind of Christian ministry, maybe even a pastor of a church. One Sunday, after the church service, I approached the pastor and asked him what Seminary he would recommend. He said that Bethel (in Saint Paul) was good, but that Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon was the best. So, without question, I went with his suggestion. And before long, I was all signed up to go to Western—Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.

Seminary didn’t start until the fall, so I had the summer off—except for work. For the last three summers I had been working for a company called Super Painters, painting houses. It was kind of fun, but also a lot of work. They had quite a large operation, maybe about 20 employees. Usually there was 3 or 4 crews working on different projects. But sometimes, when a job had to be done quickly, they would put everyone together. Those were the most fun. Can you imagine 20 painters at work, with ladders and plank all around the house, and paint brushes flying? Oh, it was great. A little chaotic but great. I am so thankful for my start with them. Not only did I learn how to paint, I also was given confidence to later start up my own painting company. I’ll talk more about that later.

A car driving in white ash from Saint Helen’s eruption.

When the time came to start Seminary, I took a leap of faith with my car, and also with my financial situation. My car was quite old and had some issues, but I thought it could make it—driving from Minnesota to Portland, Oregon. And it did, without any problems. Thank God. One thing I will always remember on the trip was that from South Dakota, all the way there, it looked like it had snowed. But it was white ashes from the eruption of Mount St. Helen that had blew its top the day before. So bizarre.

My financial situation was simple. I had no money, but I was trusting God to provide. So, when I approached the clerk at Western, I explained that I was planning on paying my way a little at a time by the painting jobs that I would get. That was my plan. And it worked. Thank God. Each day at Seminary, between classes and in the evening, I walked around the neighborhood and asked people to let me paint a room or two. And I got work, enough work to pay my tuition and all my bills while at Seminary!

Surprisingly, my Seminary classes weren’t any harder than my college classes at Northwestern. They were really just more of the same, classes like Hermeneutics, Bible Survey and Greek. The only thing that was different was a couple classes that were more geared toward being a Baptist—like the class called Baptist History and Principles. I got a D in that class! All the other class I did pretty good—A’s and B’s. Oh, except Greek. I also got D’s in those classes.