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By Carolyn HIttenberger
What brings a person to a particular point in life? In Ministry? We see people through the lens of who they are today, their current involvements, where they are. The truth is, we all started somewhere and have followed a particular path to where we are today. Reflecting on God’s detailed, step by step plan for an individual life is both amazing and humbling.
Dr. Dick Brogden, co-founder of the Live Dead program, serves in this quietly dynamic ministry, planting churches and training church planters in unreached people groups in the Arab World. He is a teacher, outstanding speaker and highly respected missionary. He would be the first to say this didn’t happen overnight. He has walked a carefully designed life-path with lessons to learn, abilities to sharpen, relationships to develop and appointments to keep. Each step prepared him for the next and ultimately brought him to this effective ministry.
A NURTURING HOME
“My Mom and Dad are my spiritual heroes and taught me to abide in Christ.” Dick was raised by his missionary parents in Kenya, East Africa. His mom and dad consistently modeled what they preached, served with compassion and lived by faith.
From 8:00 to 10:00 AM every day Dick and his two sisters knew their mom and dad would be spending “extravagant time on Jesus through Bible study and prayer.” Their home bustled with guests, church services and activities. Hospitality was a way of life, a part of their calling. Dick declares “Their abiding life is what has shaped my whole approach to discipleship, ministry and missions.”
His parents planted churches, helped start a clinic and established a feeding program among a primitive, nomadic people. Dick says, “We were in church all the time.” Sometimes in Swahili and sometimes in English, they preached and taught, directed their mission and raised three children. In their busyness they made time for family games, music, hiking and exploring the unique beauty of God’s creation in Africa, their heart-home.
Each evening the family gathered in the living room to sing, pray and read the Bible. Then, with goodnight kisses his parents tucked the children into bed. Dick remembers that often, after warm good nights, “My Dad would sit at the piano and play hymns. I love hymns to this day because I fell asleep to them as a boy.”
AN ONGOING AWAKENING
When Dick was six years old he and a little African friend named Jimmy accepted Jesus as Savior after his father had preached. (Jimmy is still actively serving the Lord in a church planted by Dick’s parents!) Dick describes it like this. “My salvation was an ongoing awakening much more than a momentary decision.”
A DEVELOPING IDENTITY
Dick found it difficult at first when at age seven it was necessary to leave his parents to attend boarding school. There Dick began the lifelong process of learning to trust the God who is always faithful. Before long he formed fast friendships with other missionary kids, many of whom are currently serving as missionaries and remain good friends.
During those growing-up years Dick excelled in his studies and in sports. When school was closed for breaks, Dick treasured time spent at home. He was free to discover and develop a sense of who he was. He recalls, “My father just let me be a kid, and I grew up in the warm sunshine of a happy and godly home. Dad never forced me to do ministry things-he just let me live and learn and laugh.” As Dick grew spiritually God’s plans and purposes became increasingly clear.
AN UNFOLDING CALLING
Even as a child Dick knew God was calling him to be a missionary.
One night at boarding school, when he was sixteen that calling became more specific. He states, “I stood in awe of the God of all creation who wants to be glorified by every people. In that clear African night I felt God call me to be a missionary to those unreached peoples.”
At college when Dick started praying for Muslims, God further clarified the call. He would work among unreached people. He would plant churches among Muslims. At home, during summer break from college, Dick’s dad gave him opportunity and encouragement to preach. That began his public ministry.
A MATCHING COMMITMENT
Dick realized that if he were to marry, his wife would have to share the same calling as he. Commitment to him would not be enough to face the challenges this kind of ministry would require. Could he ask a woman to sacrifice, to walk with him through risk and uncertainty? Would he ever find a woman willing to surrender everything to reach the lost?
In all earnestness he filled two pages of a yellow legal pad with a list of qualifications he believed would be needed in a wife. While attending North Central Bible College he met his sister’s friend, Jennifer. He says, “She was beautiful, kind, modest and called to missions.” She matched his list perfectly.” (Exception: she didn’t play the piano. He decided that was not, after all, of prime importance.)
AN ENDURING PARTNERSHIP
Jennifer also matched his strength of commitment and passion to share Jesus. She has proven over many years of ministry that God calls and enables men and women who willingly surrender to Him. They have two sons, Luke and Zack. In areas where just being a Christian puts life at risk, the family has carried Jesus to the heart of the Muslim world since 1992, first to Mauritania, then Kenya, the Sudan and now Egypt. They have invested in individual lives, planted seeds and waited at length for growth.
A CONTINUING PURSUIT
Dick earned a B. A. from North Central University and later a Ph.D. in International Studies from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He maintains that studying and learning are lifelong pursuits. His particular interest was, of course, missions. Dick says, “I wanted a deeper understanding of the Bible and Missions so I could better disciple those who come to faith.” At the recommendation of two highly respected friends, Dick researched Global University’s offerings. He found a flexible program allowing him to study without leaving his family and ministry, moderate pricing and courses that are academically challenging, doctrinally sound and spiritually inspiring.
Attending the Graduate Study Center in Nairobi, Kenya, Dick was privileged to study with African leaders. He comments, “Their wisdom was much deeper than mine, their character forged in difficulty, their perspective in the Scriptures deep and refreshing.” The course A Biblical Theology of Missions, had a profound impact on him.He says, “For the first time, I realized that mission was THE theme of the Bible, not just A theme. Dr. John York’s teaching helped open my eyes to see the Great Plan of God for every people to be redeemed and glorify Him in all its textured richness. I felt it before that class; I understood it and could proclaim it and teach it after that class.”
AN EXPANDING MINISTRY
After many years of church planting, Dick and Jennifer now train multinational, multigenerational teams to plant churches among Unreached People Groups. Their focus and that of Live Dead ministry is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and plant a church among every unreached people group in the Arab World. The teams partner with new church plants to raise up indigenous assemblies who are self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. This ministry involves personal sacrifice, difficult living conditions, even potential danger in areas where there is hostility toward outsiders and foreign religions. Dick and Jennifer teach, coach, mentor, lead, train, counsel and evangelize. They live abiding in Christ, knowing this calling can only be fulfilled as they live surrendered to and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Live Dead ministry promotes “an attitude of life-long learning.” Dick affirms that his Global University studies have helped prepare him for this “ministry of Biblical Mobilizer-preparing and sending forth more and more teams, expanding the opportunities to reach the unreached.” He adds, “The benefits of a GU education continue long after the formal studies are completed. I am thankful to the GU staff and faculty for their tireless efforts in making further training possible to those who live and work in difficult areas of our world.”Dick and Jennifer, Global University honors you for your continuing selfless service!
Alan Redpath once said, “The will of God…is the daily unrolling of a scroll.” As with Dick and Jennifer, God has and still is unrolling a detailed life-path, lovingly designed to guide each one into His purposes. Let Dick Brogden’s experience encourage you to follow God’s call as He unfolds it before you. Keep studying and learning. God bless you as you pursue excellence in the call of God for your life.