Greg Williams recently interviewed me on the topic of GCI’s new initiative to establish Ministry Training Centers on every inhabited continent. Here’s an excerpt from that interview where he asked me about my own spiritual formation, and I recalled the occasion when I first discovered Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
As a teenager, growing up in rural Missouri, I had never heard of Bonhoeffer. But I was privileged one summer to attend a week-long church camp in North Carolina. This camp was not anything like the camps I knew in Missouri. Most importantly, it had a bookstore — it was the first time in my life I had ever seen a theological bookstore. Every day, in awe, I spent the lunch hour in the bookstore, poring over which books I might buy with my food money. At the end of the week, I came away with a geography of the Bible and four books by Bonhoeffer including Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship. Back in Missouri, I stumbled into my house gaunt and faint from the sacrifice of the moment, but I still have those books and treasure them to this day! The books by Bonhoeffer describe the embodied experience of ministry training for the Confessing Church in Germany during the rising years of the Nazi party. Many young ministers in training came to Bonhoeffer’s underground seminary at Finkenwalde. Books and pamphlets read in isolation during those trying times would not have been enough — only through shared life together could they be fortified for the challenges of ministry that lay ahead. Reflection upon these books was formative for me.