Central Baptist College prepared me to prepare others. By no means is that any type of stretch or overstatement.
I’m writing this well past the deadline the CBC staff gave me when I volunteered to share my story. I’ve told them some excuses, but the real reason is how can someone write about the single most influential four-years of their life in eight-hundred words or less. That’s what Central Baptist College was for me. Since then I’ve been through seminary and taken many training courses, but it was the Biblical and theological foundation received at CBC that set my life in the direction it’s in now and that I believe God wants for me.
After serving on staff in churches for eighteen years, the last eight as senior pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, AR, I stepped out to launch Stand Firm Ministries. Stand Firm Ministries is focused on preaching, teaching, and providing resources to call believers to stand firm and hold on to their faith. We’re partnering with churches across the country, teaching in worship services and leading revivals—calling congregations to a wholehearted commitment to God and their church now and in the future. This journey has led to the start of a podcast produced in Nashville called Hold On that aired its first season this fall. It also led to the launching, and serving as co-pastor, of an online international church, which is becoming a fascinating adventure.
On the writing end of this endeavor, the Lord allowed me to be represented by a literary agent and my book Spiritual Prepper to be published nationally this past year with WND Books. It won the Selah Award for top non-fiction book of the year. The book propelled me into the national prophecy teaching scene with the chance to be on over forty radio and streaming television shows, along with the chance to write regularly for WND News, Israel Islam and the End times, The Baptist Press, and others. Currently, I’m involved in several collaborative book projects. A children’s book I’ve written will be releasing in a few months.
One of the strongest endorsements Spiritual Prepper received was on The Underground with Joel Richardson. Joel is a New York Times Bestselling Author and a leading prophecy teacher. He shared that Spiritual Prepper was one of the only books to handle the end-times pastorally. Of course, that was a big boost for the book, but I hadn’t looked at the book in that way. For me, studying the Bible and theology was never meant to be separated from how we should live. But as I reflected on the statement, often the two are exclusive. They’re exclusive in almost all end-times teaching and, in most seminaries, but not for me because it wasn’t for Central Baptist College.
No Bible or theology class in seminary, or since, has come close to matching what I received at CBC. I’ve often tried to put my finger on what made the teaching at CBC different. One of those differences was that the professors were pastors first. Not meaning just that they served as pastors before they began teaching, but that in all their teaching it always went back to how the truth impacted us personally and how it would impact the churches we would one day serve. Never was the Bible separated from the local body of believers.
The second endorsement I have appreciated the most has been a reoccurring appreciation for remaining faithful to the Biblical text. Again, this became rooted in my soul through the Bible department at CBC. This has been a common thread in my ministry because of the teaching received at the college. And it’s funny because I can remember the moment that conviction settled in my heart. It was in Dr. Ron Mitchell’s Systematic Theology I class, the second semester of my freshman year. It was my last class of the day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I left each class for the first two months with a headache. I’d been in church my whole life and been preaching for three years, but I never dived into the nature and character of God. My world was rocked.
I’m not sure if the fog or headaches ever lifted that semester or in the other three systematic classes I would take from Dr. Mitchell, but the necessity of the content penetrated my soul. Somewhere in that first semester I became convicted if a doctor who dealt with physical life needed to go through so much training, how much more did I need to go through dealing with the even more important eternal life.
That line of thinking was far from what I left Ashdown, AR thinking about ministry and college. I grew up in Ashdown. Blessed to be in church every time the doors were open because of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who loved Jesus and were committed to church. My church, Central Baptist Church, was heavily connected with the college in name and association. CBC was always in my life. From being the alma mater of my pastor and several youth pastors, to singing on campus in children’s choir performances, to the Singers visiting my home church, SOAR, and Encounter. But it was not always on my radar. I had plans of what I wanted to do in life and where I wanted to go, but at sixteen I was called into vocational ministry.
Ready to Serve God!
I was on fire and wanted to see people impacted with the Gospel. I also felt called to “slay the ox and burn the plow” and commit to full-time vocational ministry. So, since I was going to be in vocational ministry, I felt I needed to go to a Christian school. Eventually, the path led to Central Baptist College, but I went with the plan that I’d attend until God opened a door for ministry then I was out of there. Fortunately, the Lord held off opening doors until after I became convicted of the importance of theological training.
Thankful for CBC
Not only did CBC lay the foundation of my ministry, but it laid the direction for my whole future. It was at CBC where I met my wife, Amanda, and made relationships that continue today. Parents, I can’t stress the importance of at least having your children start in a Christian college. Working with teenagers in student ministry and pastoring churches that focused on youth and children, I know parents shy away from Christian colleges because of the financial cost. But I believe the “life” cost is far more expensive not to give your child that start. It’s not just about the education, it’s where they will meet their spouse and lifelong friends. And if you’re a parent of a future ministry student, my family and I didn’t understand what was needed for the what God was calling me to do. I wish it had been stressed how much I needed the theological training. Fortunately, I ended up at CBC. And fortunately, a hot blonde named Amanda ended up there, too.
Written by Jake McCandless
Jake McCandless ministries:
Book, Spiritual Prepper
Podcast, Hold On
To learn more about Central Baptist College, visit www.cbc.edu/WhyCBC