Cutting through the Jungle with a Butter Knife
Meet Aubrey Collins
I’m from Mobile, Alabama.
Planning to graduate
I plan to graduate this May with a ThM in Pastoral Ministries.
I spent seven years in the Navy (Oak Harbor, Washington; Newport, Rhode Island; deployment in The Gulf). The movie, The Flight of the Intruder, is based on my squadron. For the past eleven years, I’ve worked as a waiter at Pappadeaux restaurant.
I’m open to ministering anywhere, but I would prefer not to go to Siberia. Still, I’ve learned to keep quiet about such preferences. I’m certain that God will send me where I’m supposed to go.
When I was 20, I wanted to be a lawyer, work for the CIA, and fly jets. I was the first member of my family to earn a college degree, and I was on a path to that career when a pastor in Rhode Island became “a father to the fatherless.” He took me from being a person in the pews to a person of service. I interned for a U.S. senator because I still had the goal of being a public servant. The CIA also expressed interest in me during my last year in the military, but I felt burdened that God wanted me in the ministry. He systematically took my plans away and got me to a place where I know he’ll work it out. I can tell that he cares for me. He always shows up, and he has a plan for direction. When he says, “Go,” I will go.
How Aubrey heard about DTS
When I was in Rhode Island, I started listening to Christian radio. I heard Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Charles Swindoll, and Dr. Tony Evans, all DTS grads.
One of Many Stories of Provision
I arrived in Dallas with sixty-five cents in my pocket. I found temporary lodging with a friend and started working at a restaurant within walking distance of his house. I’ve been with that company ever since. They transferred me to a restaurant in the gay community, and I virtually became the pastor of that restaurant, sharing Christ with people in tough situations—drug abuse, financial difficulty, childhood trauma, promiscuity.
At DTS I’ve been paying my way. To afford it, I would go to school for a year and take off a year. Before I was deployed, the Navy had a group of us go into a small compartment that was pitch black inside and “feel” our way out. They did it so we’d know how to get out of a ship in the dark if it caught on fire. People with claustrophobia couldn’t do it. In that exercise, we were in complete darkness. And at times through the years in Dallas, my life has felt like that dark place. My mom died while I was here. She was a single parent, and she led me in the faith. A friend in my spiritual formation group described my life as cutting through the jungle using a butter knife instead of a machete.
I rarely registered on time each semester because of my bills. And for the fall 2013 semester, for the first time I was planning to take out a loan because my car had died earlier in the spring—it had 268,000 miles on it. (To tell you how bad it looked, I once saw kids in the back of an SUV taking a photo of it through their back window.) It would have lasted until graduation, but a drunk driver hit it. So, to work with youth, I was riding a bike to church in Dallas’s heat and rainstorms and taking the bus to and from DTS—a two-and-a-half-hour round trip. I planned to use part of that tuition loan to buy an affordable car.
DTS requires students taking out loans for the first time to attend a meeting. And at the meeting, a Human Resources (HR) employee who knew me from my late enrollments turned to Karen Holder, the HR director, and said, “He’s a great example. He’s in his last year, and he’s taking a loan.” After the meeting, Karen asked me about my needs, and apparently mentioned me to Steve Golding, president of Dallas Seminary Foundation. He contacted me and told me a donor had set aside $15,000 for a last-year student. “He doesn’t want you to worry about finances,” Steve said. “I will give him a call—you seem ideal for that scholarship.” I was five days short of age forty-one.
The donor agreed I could use part of the money to buy a car. But when Steve mentioned my need to Karen, she asked, “What happened to the car someone donated to DTS last year?” That very morning, a seminary representative had gone to get that car appraised in order to sell it. It was a Lexus.
As I was leaving class and on my way to the bus stop, Steve called. By that afternoon, my bill was paid, and I was driving a 2001 Lexus. I had planned to buy something cheap and reasonable with payments that wouldn’t hurt too much. And when Steve told me DTS had a car, I pictured something “barely breathing.” But it’s the best car I have ever had—by far. When all this happened, God moved in my heart and made me realize that he had led me out of the dark place.