He’s worked and traveled all over the place, from Seattle to Florida, picking up five degrees along the way, including a doctorate from SES at age 63.
Years ago, as the director of a cardiac rehab program, Don “just had this gnawing feeling that I should be doing more for the Lord.”
Don went on to become a physical therapy professor—now retired—yet one of his greatest challenges came not in the form of a class, but in the form of a quote by an English author.
Sitting in front of his full bookshelves at home, he reads the quote over Zoom—words about sin, salvation and witnessing.
“It’s almost like I was hit between the eyes,” he said, reflecting on the first time he heard the words. As someone immersed in academics, he realized he didn’t know enough to be an effective witness for Christ.
He came across SES during an online search.
“As a university professor, I was frequently confronted about my faith by intellectual friends,” he said.
In the 10 years since graduating, Don has referred over and over again to what he gleaned from SES. All of his professors were “stellar,” he said, and he learned a great deal from each one. His dissertation advisers Wayne Detzler and Doug Potter had an exceptional influence on him.
Don thinks back to one fall as he was preparing for a conference in Washington, D.C. He was struggling to put up a poster until another man came by to help. Don told the man that the timely assistance was “a God thing.”
“This person took a couple steps back and he said, ‘You know, there is no such thing as God. God had nothing to do with it.’”
That led to a conversation on truth and creation. Don asked a thought-provoking question that the man couldn’t answer at the time, so Don told him, “Once you arrive at an answer, I can be found in room 640 at the Sheraton Hotel.”
The man never knocked on his door with an answer, but Don uses the story as an example of how SES trained him to ask the right questions and get people thinking about the foundation of their beliefs.
He’s also had numerous faith encounters with Uber drivers.
“The driver is a captive audience. What are you going to do, step out of the car at 60 mph and say ‘I don’t want to talk about this anymore’?”
One Muslim driver parked, stopped the clock and discussed Jesus for an hour. Another driver from Brazil wanted peace in his life and was open to Christianity.
“He accepted Christ just as he pulled into the driveway,” Don said of the Brazilian man. The driver said he was going to stop working for the evening, go home, and sit down with wife and three kids to tell them about Jesus.
Stories like that are the reason Don and his wife have arranged for a portion of their trust funds to go toward the ongoing work of SES.
“What else is better … than to give to someone who is actively involved in getting people to Christ?”
For those at retirement age like him, he said, “Here’s an excellent way to continue to give. We certainly can’t take it with us. … This is a way to leave a lasting mark on the lives of others.”
Don cites a Barna study that found only one in four Americans are practicing Christians, down nearly 50% over the past 20 years.
“Reaching the unsaved during these times is not for the squeamish or for those who are spiritually unprepared,” he said. “Apologetics, as taught by SES, prepares us for these very tough, new challenges. Such training is not just necessary but critical in a lost and dying world.”
Don admits defending Christianity in today’s culture is tough, but in his light-hearted words, “I like a good fight.”