2012 Logsdon Seminary Graduate
Master of Divinity – Pastoral Care Track
By Dr. Doug Jackson, Director, Logsdon Graduate Program at SCS
An emergency notification on his phone jerked Nick Acker from a sound sleep. Santa Ana winds had driven the Thomas Fire south along the California coast and the blaze now threatened his neighborhood. A glance out the window revealed an angry glow outlining the summit of nearby hills. He and his family packed a few essentials and fled. At the time, Nick had been pastor of Grace Church in Ventura, California, for only six months.
Nick, a graduate of both the undergraduate program and the Logsdon Seminary program at the South Texas School of Christian Studies, began sending text messages to members of his congregation. Everyone checked in as safe. In the end, firefighters held the line. Nick, his congregants, and their church building escaped major damage.
Others, of course, fared worse. The flames torched four hundred homes in the surrounding community; factor in multi-unit apartment complexes and the cruel math of homelessness soars. Housing costs will bloat due to the shortage of available space. As always, those who were worse off to begin with will be worse off than ever. In this phase of the tragedy, Nick seeks to lead Grace Church from immediate relief toward what he calls, “rehabilitation and development.” Grace will work in partnership with the school district to identify specific families with needs which they will then attack through the unified efforts of the faith community.
In this chaos, Nick sees an opportunity for the gospel. “There is a big feeling of camaraderie in the city, and it is my prayer that this sense of fellowship will open people’s hearts to enter the koinonia of the Gospel.”
Nick says that his training at the School of Christian Studies prepared him for this crisis in an unusual way: it taught him the skill of negative capability. “There’s really no preparing for a situation like this,” Nick explains. “It is so unique. There really is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ response.” Instead, he found the ability to wait on the Lord long enough to discover the best response.
“Nothing has benefited me more in all ministry than the spiritual formation that I received at SCS. This emergency required great patience in order to set aside feelings of shame and the tyranny of the urgent. Emergency relief organizations are good at what they do, and it took a lot of discipline to trust them to do it, and to WAIT on the Spirit to move us toward what He wants us to do.”
SCS rejoices to find its graduates carrying the gospel across the nation and around the world. Your financial contributions make it possible for us to train pastors like Nick to face even those challenges for which no specific training could prepare them.
Note: Those wishing to contribute to the recovery effort can give directly to Grace Church.