In the darkest and quietest time, God speaks.
It was a dark time for me as my longtime dream was about to fall apart. I always dreamed of being with you (Medicine) and working by your side. Unfortunately, we had some irreconcilable differences. I had to let you go; but I was afraid. I was afraid of starting over. I was afraid of letting my friends, my sponsors, and my mentors down. They believed in our relationship. Everyone thought we were perfect together. I, too, thought we were. I cried, and I cried. I also waited quietly because I knew that, “Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” Isa 40:31. I struggled to let you go, until one day somebody (Rev. Dr. Steve Jones, then pastor of First Baptist, Kansas City, MO) told me there was something that might have been a better fit for me. I was skeptical. Seriously, I did not think there was anything else that could replace you, but I was wrong. This dark time became a detour on my way to where I was supposed to be, which was Central Baptist Theological Seminary.
Do not take this too personally. It was not just about you. It was about all seminaries in general. The first day someone told me about you, I laughed. But before he left, he told me to pray about it and to let him know if I wanted to meet you. I shook my head. However, after a few days of prayers and reflection, I started feeling at peace– a peace that I had not known existed. Reluctantly, I called him and said that I wanted to go ahead and meet you. He set us up for a date. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, at 2:00 pm, I saw you for the first time. I went to meet you with some preconceived ideas about you. I have been resisting meeting you since my college years. But you smashed my preconceptions.
At our first meeting, you (through Dr. Marshall) said all the right things. Everything that I needed to hear, you said it all. I looked at the person who was with me, and we could not believe what was happening. On our way to home he said to me “Dezo, I hope you did not think I said anything about you before this meeting.” In January 2015, I decided to enter into a relationship with you.
Today, December 2, 2017, marks our three years since we first met. Three years later, I can say meeting you was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I am so thankful to have you in my life.
I am glad I decided to pursue a degree at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Not only have I completed my masters, but I am also already ministering. The other best part is that I have made wonderful friends, I have been taught by prestigious professors, and have gained awesome mentors. I am glad that you are one of the places that I can call home.
Dr. Marshall, thank you for not judging me, when I said I did not think I needed to study the Bible. Thank you for inviting me to take Benedictine Spirituality as my first class. I am from a country where Baptist pastors and Catholic priests do not hang out together. My time at Conception Abbey opened my eyes to a better understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Thank you for introducing the Rule of Saint Benedict to me. This rule inspires me daily in my journey in ministry.
Central, my journey with you has not always been easy. There were times of joy and times of stress. Every semester I doubted that I could make it to the end. I am so grateful for Dr. Sheryl Stewart. She always reminded me, “Dezo, you will get it done. You can do it.” When I was freaking out and about to have a panic attack, she was always there to calm me down. I am also so thankful for the understanding of my professors. They were so compassionate.
Central, you are a community of professors and students, but, more importantly, brothers and sisters who are working together to build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Central, thank you for contributing to who I am and who I am becoming. Thank you for equipping me to be the leader I always dreamed of being, to proclaim the gospel, to work for social justice, to heal souls and bodies, and to create community.
Our relationship will continue forever. It is my hope that the world sees the amazing work you are doing to prepare women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.
Now, let me brag about you (Central) a little bit.
Central Baptist Theological Seminary is proved to be the best Seminary in the entire world for me. It is the place where I received my Master of Divinity. Central met my needs like hand in a glove, it met my needs in God’s own way. Hey, look, I am from Haiti. Even though I knew a few women who had been to seminary, I always knew ministry was not for us, until I arrived at Central. The first thing I noticed was, Wow! A woman is the president!
The staff members, the admissions office, and the registrar’s office at Central are all very welcoming. Our professors have exceptional leadership qualities, which help in preparing students from diverse background to be exceptional leaders in the church, our community, and in the world. They form caring, supportive relationships with all students; they actively care and work with us to help us succeed. A classmate once told me that at Central the professors are not only knowledgeable, they are compassionate models of discipleship. They encourage and inspire us to think about our own faith. They don’t tell us what to believe but equip us to form our own beliefs. Boy, I could not have agreed more.
At Central, I went to seminary with people of all ages; females, males, and LBTQ+; black and white; American and non-American. I had classmates on the physical campus and electronic campus. I had classmates with years of ministry experience and classmates just like me. I also had classmates with the same religious belief and others with different religious beliefs.
It was amazing to me that when I looked around I couldn’t really tell if there were more men or more women students, which is rare in most seminaries that I know. At Central, I was part of a global campus with students who were African, American, Asian, Burmese, Haitian, and Korean. Central is a very welcoming and affirming community, which helps to make Central diverse. Central seems to welcome our differences. Whoever steps into Central can find somebody who looks like him or her, even somebody who has an accent like mine. This seminary is a place for all the children of God. I think, that’s what heaven looks like. The blessing of being a part of an ethnically diverse community is that now I have friends all over the world.
As I prepare, expect, and wait, for the birth of our Savior, I am reminded that God speaks in the silence. May each one of you hear God’s voice, just as I heard God’s voice through my pastor. I heard God’s voice and I found my voice. Is that not wonderful?! Thanks be to God.
Louisenie “Dezo” Desauguste