I’ve been in the ministry for nearly 50 years. I started as a ministerial trainee in 1969 after three years of Ambassador College. At college I learned a lot. I was an attentive student who absorbed all I could in my theology classes. I was an eager student and very enthusiastically embraced the ministry when I was chosen for it. From the outset, the part that was most interesting to me was getting to know and care for a congregation. Preaching and speaking did not come easily to me and it was not my favorite things to do.
Over time, I did get better at it, but I still have to work a long time to put effective thoughts together. Even in my senior year of college I decided to drop out of homiletics class for the final semester since I was initially told and somewhat agreed that I was not “cut out for the ministry.” But, when the final semester of the senior year began my name was still in to be in the homiletics class and I didn’t protest, but just took it as a sign that I was supposed to be learning to speak more effectively.
Let me say a few things about my mindset towards the ministry that became a lifelong career. When I was growing up, I never thought that I’d be in the ministry of any kind. But since an early age, going back even age nine, I had a desire to help oppressed and disadvantage people. For example, I felt sorrow for people who lived behind the Iron Curtain (where my parents came from) to people who were flooded by the Mississippi River that lived nearby. I felt sorry for families who had loved sons and husbands killed in war. My heart was troubled by all the terrible and evil things that my life was getting introduced to.
But, I never thought I’d be in the ministry partly because my interests were also in science and technology. Where I really planned to go to college was the Institute of Technology at the University of Minnesota. That’s what my parents wish was and I was not in opposition to it.
But, in my junior and senior years of high school, I was drawn more and more towards working in the social sciences.
After high school graduation I wanted to go to Ambassador College. This created a huge uproar for my Dad. No way! He wanted me to have a decent recognized respected professional degree. Going to California to a religious college was an insult to him and his ambitions for me. Since I was 17 and had little money, I did not go to Ambassador College (for which I was accepted) for the 1995-1966 academic year.
But, I was determined to go to Ambassador College in Pasadena, California after a year at the University of Minnesota.
A miraculous thing happened during that year. Near the end of 1965 I decided to go to church services of the Radio Church of God in south Minneapolis. My parents were “ok” with that. I had stopped attending the Ukrainian Orthodox church because of severe doctrinal incompatibility. I attended every Sabbath starting in the dead of winter. However, my parents were very curious about what I was being exposed to. So, since it is traditional to take notes during church services unlike most church services, I had a trail of things to talk to them about. After returning home from Sabbath services, on Saturday night our family would gather in the living room and I would go through the entire sermon given that day. I would quote the scriptures and the explanation of them. My parents listened with great interest week after week. My brother Oleh was starting to attend services with me as he was studying the same material I was. We both then were taking the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. And, he was starting to attend services with me. We both would talk to our parents about what we were learning at church services.
This continued all through the early months of 1966 until a miraculous event occurred in April 1966 that I will describe in the next entry.