Arts and Biblical Studies, Class of 1977
I am an old man now and retired, but in September 1974 I wasn’t. I was 18 years old, long-haired, sometimes foul-mouthed and certainly ill-mannered. I landed at Atlantic Baptist College (the old campus on Salisbury Road) on what I thought was a ‘stop over’ on my journey to Dalhousie University and a career in Marine Biology. I took the standard Arts courses along with the obligatory Bible courses thinking that I would soon move on. However, in typical fashion with God involved, I stayed longer than I had anticipated.
The Lord began to soften me and one fall morning of my third year, while having morning devotions, I surrendered my life to the Lord and a call to ministry. I remember praying, “But you’ve got to get me ready because I don’t know anything.” I went down that morning and changed my Arts courses to Bible courses and my journey of ‘knowing something’ began. During the last chapel of my third year, I shared my testimony which was that God had changed me that year and did I ever need changing! After that, a couple close friends and I made a pact to commit ourselves to preach and live out a message of grace. That commitment is still alive in me today as I am still preaching the message ‘grace must win’.
The courses were good and the friendships were wonderful, some are still my closest friends to this day! For me, the biggest impact of my time at Crandall was seeing how the Lord was using others to impact my life. Some of the people that God used were Ralph Richardson – who is a close friend to this day – Gary LeBlanc, George Turner (now with the Lord) and ‘the Chief’ Stuart Murray (also with the Lord). Ramona (Wagner) Mitchell filled me with coffee and turkey sandwiches after too many all-nighters before an exam. I also cannot forget English professor Peter Henderson who was a support to me during some of my most wayward days! He would be shocked to see where I (also known as Fiddler) wound up! These people were used by God – not only in the classroom, but with chats in offices and even during games of tennis, table tennis, hockey, and softball. These people poured themselves into my life and the lives of so many others, and for that I am forever grateful.
During my time at Crandall, I also met the woman who would become my wife. She was attending Hillsborough Baptist Church, which was where I was serving at the time. Rosalie Downey and I were married in May of 1978 almost 44 years ago, if you are counting. Rosalie has been supportive and steadfast in every ministry endeavor through the years. Her beautiful singing voice often preached the message better than I ever could. The Lord gave us three children – two daughters and a son. All three also attended Crandall University.
After graduating from Crandall, I went to Gordon College where I completed a BA in Biblical and Theological studies. I then went on to Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and graduated in 1983. Following that, I served as a youth pastor at Hillsborough Baptist from 1983-1986; Associate Pastor at First Baptist Moncton from 1986-1989; and then Senior Pastor at Alta Vista Baptist Church in Ottawa. We were there for 11 years and during that time we saw many people come to faith in Christ and the church grew. In addition, I was privileged to be a conference speaker at Muskoka Baptist Conference, a lecturer for Ligonier Ministries, and a Professor of Systematic Theology at Toronto Baptist Seminary. During those years, I was privileged to go on teaching trips to Constanta Romania and Guyana. In the midst of this, I was admitted to the PhD program at Westminster Seminary. However, with a growing family and growing church the PhD unfortunately had to be abandoned.
We moved back to the Maritimes in the year 2000, where I began a ministry of nearly 21 years at Lewisville Baptist Church in Moncton. During my years at Lewisville there were many more teaching trips and mission trips to Albania and to Guatemala. On the mission trip to Guatemala I was able to serve alongside my daughter Heather Guptill and my granddaughter Adia Guptill. For several years, I was able to teach a course on the Book of Romans at Crandall University – talk about things coming full circle! One evening, during one of my impassioned lectures I paused after I came to the realization that I had stopped lecturing and started preaching! “I was preaching, wasn’t I?” I asked my class. They simply laughed. I had witnessed Ralph Richardson do the exact same thing many years before – not a bad example to follow, I would say.
When I think of the people at Crandall, two verses come to mind: 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” and Colossians 1:18b, “…That in all things He might have pre-eminence.” It is so evident that the professors, student leaders, and administrative workers all gave their time, knowledge and talents in the service of Christ. My time at Crandall completely changed the trajectory of my life and I will always be grateful to God for the people he used to pour into my life during those years.
I know a little something more than that fall day when my ministry journey began. I can see throughout my life that God does amazing things when He works with clay! I seek to live out the example that was set by those at ABC to love and serve Christ and love and serve people in His name and for His glory.