Dear readers: I thought I was going to have a quiet day resting as I recover from several weeks of having bronchitis from a respiratory bug that decided to have a neighbourhood block party in my body. Then, a letter came from a dear friend, author and sister in Christ. She asked for guidance on the switching of majors from science to literature and the arts. I felt in my spirit that there was an urgency in giving my response. From my letter to her the Lord reaffirmed in my spirit that divergent pathways He puts me and all of us on are His perfect plan for us.
Here is my response to her, which I have expanded so you will learn more about the divergent pathway God put me on and lessons learned from it.
When I took Science in high school, I often wondered how as a student who possessed a passion for writing that such knowledge could be useful to me. I never got high marks in Science, but I came out of it with a B. Yet, in reflection, I’m glad I studied Science, because it gave me a far greater understanding of how delicate life is not just for animals, but for all of us. Science gave me a deeper and more profound appreciation for how we are all mortal. Death will come to all of us. I find because I didn’t take the easier road of dropping some of my Science courses, that I see even more the beauty, the fine tapestry of God’s creation that is all around us.
When I took studies in Law in Grade 13 ( which was considered by many schools as the equivalent of first year university), I honestly thought God was preparing for a career in Law. My grandmother, a beautiful Christian woman with deep faith, thought that because God had gifted me in the ability of debate and forming an argument, that He was calling me to become a lawyer.
I thought that a career in law was a possibility. Yet, I believed I was going to be a journalist. Meanwhile, God showed me in His time that both my passion for law and journalism would be used for His glory.
I was accepted into Ryerson University’s journalism program. The funding that I thought I would get from the government fell through. In fact, God closed every single door for full funding then of the continuation of my university education.
I couldn’t in all good conscience have my parents continue to support me, since their income was not sufficient enough to do so. I also felt I needed to be doing something, anything with my life.
I recall as if it was yesterday the pain and humiliation I felt when my guidance counsellor announced at my high school graduation in front of my parents, that all of my other classmates were going on to further post secondary education except me. He said with ridicule in his voice,”This is Kevin Osborne. He doesn’t know where he is going.”
I applied to 13 different government ministries and one of them was the Ministry of the Attorney General. I thought I would work my way up and go to school part-time at night to get more university education and then my law degree. God firmly closed that door. The Ministry of the Attorney General did not want me.
The only government ministry that expressed interest in me working for them was the Ministry of Corrections. I wanted nothing to do with working with criminals, other than in a law career. The Lord used the studies I had taken in criminal law to open the door for me to be a provincial rehabilitation counsellor trainee.
When I deliberately tried at every opportunity to ruin any chance of working at The Salvation Army Bunton Lodge half way house for provincial offenders, the Holy Spirit had me saying things that pleased the person interviewing me.
These were some of my interview questions.
I thought, “Here’s a way I can spoil any chance of being hired. I would say, “Yes, I’m really scared of working with people like that.” Instead, I said to my surprise something like this. “They are people who have made a wrong turn. They could be any one of us. I admit to being afraid of them, but I know God will teach me as I work with them.”
Three months of employment turned into a three year job.
I joked at my farewell party before I was to begin ministerial studies with The Salvation Army at The William and Catherine Booth Memorial College for Officers in Toronto, that I had done federal time at a provincial institution. Provincial offences are two years less a day. Federal sentences are two years or more.
God even took care of my dream of further education. I would begin my studies for the ministry through correspondence studies and getting practical experience at singing, preaching, pastoral visitation, evangelism etc. For three years from 1982-1985 David Sears, who was a Master of Divinity graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, would spend several hours each week mentoring me. I learned a great deal from him about all that is involved in pastoral ministry as I assisted him as a volunteer in a ministry outreach project, in inner city missions in Toronto. From 1984-1985 I took eleven courses in religious studies at then Ontario Bible College, which is now Tyndale University in Toronto.
God provided funding through working for me to take Christian Journalism and Psychology through The Salvation Army Territorial Education Department. I took a complete Diploma in Biblical Studies for which I received Honours distinction.
After my ministerial studies from 1985-1987 I went on to work one year in federal corrections as a front desk worker at The Salvation Army W.P. Archibald Centre.
God would then after seven years working as a security administrator, call me to be a missionary in South Korea. He firmly closed the door for my continued employment in security at a luxury condominium. Two of my friends from The Salvation Army North York Temple, Sharon Greer and Cathy Dodds, asked me to prayerfully consider joining them to be an ESL teacher at the International English School in the city of Kangnung, South Korea. After much prayer and consultation with friends and family, I felt that the Lord was moving me out of my comfort zone, to take on the challenge of being a missionary.
It was a stretching experience for me. I taught ESL to students from primary to adult level. I preached and led worship on a rotational schedule with other teachers. I learned the importance in missionary work of having a dependable team to work with. There were really tough times, but through them we all matured more in our faith.
The Lord taught me as we worked together as a team the value of laughter when you are doing tough missions work. All you want to do at the end of a long day is collapse in your bed. I thank God for all of the missionaries there and a toddler at the time, Yarimi, who lived in the condominium unit along with the Vice-Principal and his wife, where I stayed part of the time I taught at International English School. Yarimi always pulled on my arm or played her toy violin. I would be busy reading, watching TV or preparing my lessons. Yarimi taught me that in heavy missions work or any work you need to take time out to be a kid again.
In 1994 I began working on completing my studies for my Bachelor of Theology degree. I graduated from Canada Christian College in 1997 with my degree. While studying Christian Journalism I was selected by my professor, Rev.Will Rooen, for a journalism internship. I received several months of mentoring from him in all aspects of print and broadcast media.
Since that time my Lord has shown me that my graduate studies will likely focus on counselling, missions, philosophy, writing and theology.
I have taken a rather divergent pathway to being in the ministry.
Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall wondered how working in a Scottish factory and digging ditches across the state of Georgia, was leading him to the ministry. It would be said of him that he was a man who having worked at manual labour, understood the concerns of the common every day person.
I know this has been a rather lengthy response, but I felt in my spirit you needed that extent of direction.
In the final analysis, you must do as your Lord leads. My goodness, our Lord works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. He wants me to write a piece on divergent pathways!