I’m a New Englander. I was born and raised here. I trusted Christ here. I was called to ministry here. I met my wife here. Together, we’ve begun building a family here. And now, it’s here, in New England at Northeastern Baptist College that I am receiving the training and tools I need to serve God for the rest of my life.
Growing up in Massachusetts, I have personally experienced the successes and failures of the New England church. In what was once the Bible belt of America, the land of Whitfield, Edwards, Moody, Schofield, and many others, Biblical ignorance and spiritual apathy run rampant. Hundreds of New England churches, devoid of sound pastoral leadership, are being forced to close their doors. Most New Englanders have never heard the Gospel or stepped foot in a church building. Every day, millions in New England stand on the precipice of life and death, facing an eternity without God.
I enrolled at NEBC to change this reality.
While there are many schools across the United States where I could receive training in Pastoral Ministry, Northeastern Baptist College is nearly the only school where I can receive training in the region to which God has called me. Because of NEBC, I’ve had the opportunity to preach God’s Word over 100 times in over 50 different churches across New England. Each experience has taught my wife Rachel and I how to shepherd a congregation of broken, hurting people.
Josh with his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Sophia.
One Sunday, in particular, the weight of these needs overwhelmed me. As I planted my feet behind the pulpit, my sweaty palms nervously gripped at its oak sides. I lifted my eyes and beheld my quiet audience. I knew many of them. One couldn’t pay rent that month. One lost a relative to cancer exactly a year ago. One lost her baby just days before. In that moment, my unsettled mind began to race, and the battle began. My entire consciousness was flooded with a sense of insecurity and inability. What seemed like the weight of the world pressed on each shoulder, burying me. Drowning in my own weakness in the front of that sanctuary, I heard the still, small voice of my Heavenly Father say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
In an instant I was filled with a courage and resolve I had seldom experienced before. I opened my mouth and for the next 30 minutes, preached the truth of God’s Word, in the power of God’s Spirit, for the faith of God’s people. By the end of the sermon, 2 had trusted Jesus for their salvation, and 10 publicly stated that they decided to surrender their lives to the Lord. “Amazing,” one man said afterward, “I haven’t heard anyone preach from the Bible like that in years! I need more of that!” Every Sunday for the next year and a half, I’d hear the cries of many biblically starved New Englanders, each one a heartbreaking example of what happens when the sheep have no shepherd.
Josh preaching at a church in Vermont.
At NEBC, however, I’ve studied under some of the most excellent minds in scholarship. I’m being equipped to meet the demands of a church under more intellectual attack than ever before. At NEBC, I’ve learned invaluable lessons from men who’ve shepherded God’s local flock for decades. I’ve connected with brothers and sisters in Christ who share in NEBC’s burden to impact our nation with the Gospel. I’ve been rigorously trained to persevere as a “good soldier of Jesus Christ” in the spiritual battleground of New England.
And with every new semester, assignment, church service, and sermon, comes a clearer understanding of how desperately the Northeast needs a school like NEBC. Countless of God’s chosen have left this region to pursue schooling in other areas of the country, never to return.
I’m a New Englander, though. My Savior has called me to live, work, train, and pastor here. Until God calls me somewhere else, or takes me home, it’s my privilege to be a part of what God is doing in New England, through Northeastern Baptist College.