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From oil industry to Pastor

Uncategorised — 7th April 2020

From working in the oil industry to being a Pastor in Germany

Eric Smith NTC Graduate and City-Pastor in Darmstadt, Germany

Growing up in a very secular part of Germany, I had limited connection to any local church community. The times I remember being at a church on Sundays, were times spent with my grandparents while my mom was at home or at work.

It wasn’t until after my Mom and I made the difficult decision to sell everything and move to the U.S., that we got involved with a local Baptist church, where we would both later be baptized.

My undergraduate years were spent at Southern Nazarene University (SNU) in Oklahoma, thanks to a golf scholarship. This decision led to an unforgettable and quite transformative college experience. I studied Finance in order to pursue the dream of a career in the FBI. Business in general had always fascinated me. If anyone would’ve told me at that point I would one day study theology, much less become a pastor, I would’ve laughed in their face.

To make a long story short, after graduating and initially taking a well-paid job in the oil industry, I quickly realised that I have a call on my life and working in the oil industry wasn’t it. A few years prior, while speaking at SNU, I met Cris Zimmermann, a Nazarene church planter from Germany. He tried to win me over many times to move back to Germany, but I staunchly refused. Upon my realisation, I reached out to him once again. After many conversations, much prayer, and some tears, I moved back to Germany in 2015 in order to work with Church in Action (KIA).

At the same time, KIA had just started planting a church in Darmstadt, a young and vibrant city, only minutes south of Frankfurt. The combination of the need for a Pastor and Cris seeing pastoral gifts in me, led to the opportunity to pastor and plant a brand new church. Parallel to my arrival, KIA started conversations with NTC about a potential partnership to create an Urban Masters Pathway that would equip young leaders for urban ministry in a post-modern world.

The combination of high quality faculty and fellow students from all kinds of backgrounds, led to an immensely rich and meaningful academic experience.

As I began the messy work of ministry in a context like Germany, questions I had carried around about life and God only grew. When I read about the plans for this Masters pathway and the opportunity to grow personally and intellectually at an Institution like the University of Manchester through NTC, I couldn’t wait to get started.

My MA experience at NTC was nothing short of transformational. I came in not really knowing what to expect and I left truly a better version of myself. The combination of high quality faculty and fellow students from all kinds of backgrounds, led to an immensely rich and meaningful academic experience. One aspect that I think contributed enormously to my experience was being fully involved in the beautiful mess of every day ministry while at the same time engaging in the intellectual study of theology. It forced me to continuously ask questions like, ”How does this abstract intellectual thought over here, translate to making Christ’s love more real to my Syrian refugee brother that I meet with weekly over here?”

Today, I am still serving as City-Pastor in Darmstadt and also lead an ongoing project in the Middle East. NTC has equipped me in that I see ministry in a much different light. Not only have I learned to think well theologically and to ask better questions, but NTC has helped me see that the Kingdom of God is so much bigger than I could’ve ever imagined. Through one of my courses, ‘Christian Engagement with Islam,’ I began to understand the Middle East and my Muslim friends better. I learned to value not only our differences, but also the many things we share.

I am truly grateful to everyone that makes NTC what it is. I am a better Pastor and a better follower of Jesus because of NTC.


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