David G. Roebuck
Last week began and ended with profound opportunities for me to reflect on my journey and the calling that we have here at the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center. The week began on Monday, June 18, with the home-going celebration of Dr. Cecil B. Knight. It ended with a deeply moving retreat for Lee University faculty and staff to discuss our calling.
Dr. Knight was instrumental in my coming to the Church of God Theological Seminary as a student in 1981. Ten years later he was on the board that hired me to work on the Squires library faculty, and on that same board when I was hired to direct the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center in 1997. In his tribute to Dr. Knight, Dr. Paul Conn reminded those at the memorial service how God had used Dr. Knight at a critical time in the life of the Church of God. With Dr. Knight’s leadership, it was possible to be both a loyal member and an agent for positive change. Thankfully, this past winter I was able to sit for about six hours with Dr. Knight and record the story of his life and ministry on video tape. Those hours were both a labor of love and my commitment to a calling to preserve the stories of how God has worked among both leaders and laity in the Church of God.
The purpose of Lee University’s Faith Learning retreat is to help staff and faculty reflect on their personal calling as well as prepare to mentor students who are developing their own sense of God’s calling. I was reminded of how my journey has been full of surprises and uncertainty, while always guided by God’s hand even though it has sometimes seemed to be an unseen hand.
My first sense of a definite call of God came about the age of twelve while praying with my friend Eddie Stone in a Lee College prayer room. During my teen years I believed my life would be dedicated to local church ministry, and I attended West Coast Bible College to prepare for that. But while a student at the Church of God Theological Seminary, faculty such as Harold Hunter and Don Bowdle helped me to realize how important understanding the roots of our theology and heritage was to me. I had always loved history, and somehow God opened the door to attend Vanderbilt University and study the history of Christianity. To my surprise, as I approached the end of my studies at Vanderbilt, it seemed that no one wanted to hire me. Then God used Dr. Knight to bring me to Cleveland and eventually to direct the Research Center.
My life is now full of opportunities to combine my love for the Church and my love for history with my calling to serve God and the kingdom of God. At the Research Center we work with local congregations in understanding and preserving their heritage, we teach Lee University and Church of God Theological Seminary students about the Church of God and the Pentecostal movement, and we write for a variety of readers from scholars to interested laity. Like many others we face the challenges of balancing opportunities and resources. But we trust that the God who calls us will call others to walk along with us.