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John W. Reed

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John W. ReedIntroverted farmers don’t turn into performers and professors, except in the case of Dr. John Reed.

He was raised on a small farm in north-central Ohio, the fifth child of six. His loving mother and father flocked their children to First Baptist Church in New London, Ohio every Sunday. At alter call young John would sit “scared to death” to get up in front of all those people. For two years he wanted to be a Christian, but thought he had to walk down the aisle.

“I was a very reserved, very backward kid.”

When he was 15, his younger sister went to camp and wrote her family a card telling of her new faith in Christ. It was then he realized he was the only non-Christian member of his family.

“I was scared to death. I thought I was going to burn in hell, and never see them again. So that night I got down by my bed and asked the Lord to save me.”

Before that night, Dr. Reed said, when he looked in front of him, all he saw was blackness. Afterward, a light came on and his future was hopeful. He dreamed of becoming a farmer.

“I got along really well with animals, it’s people that bothered me.”

In the winter of 1945, six months after his conversion, he felt God call him. As he and his father were working in the woods, he had the sense that God wanted him in the ministry.

“I fought it like a tiger, but I didn’t get any peace until I submitted to it.”

He kept questioning why God would call him, because he didn’t like people. His own lack of confidence became the foundation for his call.

“I was worthless. Then I remembered in 1 Corinthians that God calls worthless people, and that was the only justification I knew—still is.”

Dr. Reed served in World War II as a lab technician on troop ships in the military Pacific fleet. While there, he saw a performance of The Cremation of Sam McGee, a poem by Robert W. Service. The recitation inspired an interest in the performing arts.

He attended Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, where he met his wife Erris.

In college he took an oral interpretation class, and discovered his gift for performance. With the encouragement of a wonderful teacher, he performed Sam McGee on his own. Word of Dr. Reed’s gift spread quickly—his reputation grew, and soon the school asked Dr. Reed to perform as the Saturday night entertainment for the student body. Eventually he was elected to represent his team in the forensics competition.

“So something happened, and this I think was an act of God’s grace. From then on I was in every kind of competition they would let me in.”

He went on to Grace Seminary. Dr. Reed had fallen in love with speaking, which led him right into preaching. After hearing him preach, the dean of the seminary asked him if he was interested in becoming a pastor. He began his ministry as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Stryker, Ohio.

A turning point in his life came that same year. The same dean asked Dr. Reed, upon his graduation, to stay at Grace Seminary to teach preaching. Although he did not feel led to do so, that offer gave him the confidence he would need to make coming decisions.

As he continued as a pastor in Ohio, he considered the possibility of teaching seminary someday. The little boy who didn’t want to walk to the front of the church because of all the people, was now speaking several times a week, with aspirations to be teaching every day.

Dr. Reed was hired to teach speech and English at the local high school. He taught there for five and a half years along with his pastoral ministry. During that time he attended Bowling Green State University, and received his master’s degree in communications.

Along with those responsibilities, his seven-and-a-half-year tenure at First Baptist Church brought the congregation of 85 people to 250 people.

“What all this running around did, was teach me how to teach, how to preach, how to relate to people. I love teaching.”

Through a connection Dr. Reed had, he was asked to teach at Cedarville College. So he resigned as pastor of First Baptist Church in Stryker, Ohio, quit teaching at the high school, and began teaching in the communications department at Cedarville in 1961.

At this point he started working towards his PhD. at Ohio State University, which he finished in 1966.

In 1970 Dr. Reed was asked to teach as an associate professor at DTS. He served as professor in the department of Pastoral Ministries from 1970 to 1978, and as chairman of the department from1979 to 1993. Now, he is director of the Doctor of Ministry program and has found his passion in helping students become more effective in their ministries.

After 52 years his wife Erris is still at his side, with his daughters Beth and Becky. Becky has been fighting a brain tumor for 3 months. Dr. Reed now has a favorite quote that gets him through days when Becky isn’t doing as well.

“From the fall of a raindrop, to the fall of an empire, all is under the providential care of God.” — Alva J. McClain