At school Craig Stephans asked someone what a John 3:16 sign meant. Although he grew up in the church, he didn’t read the Bible until his senior year of high school and was startled to read that you have to born again. He started a personal relationship with Jesus in college. Today, he pastors Church of the Redeemer in Elizabeth City, N.C., and provides discipleship training and Bible studies to the Albemarle Pregnancy Resource Center.
“During the four years of college, God developed a calling for me to be involved in ministering to others,” Craig said. “It just took 15 years to discover the route.”
Craig graduated from The Citadel with degrees in English and Counseling. Although he had an interest in full-time ministry, he planned to work in the insurance field, be active in the church, and attend seminary in retirement.
But in his mid-30s, a pastor and two priests approached him about going to seminary and becoming a minister. He felt like he couldn’t add one more thing to his plate with a wife and young daughter, but the pastoral leaders encouraged him.
“Going through the discernment process helped me fulfill my call,” Craig said.
So Craig enrolled at Trinity School for Ministry after working various jobs for 15 years post college. He enrolled in Asbury Seminary’s D.Min. program one year ago in order to grow himself as a leader, pastor and mentor.
“What Dr. Tennent presented in his podcast on sanctification and what came through regarding the Seminary’s mission and the way it understood theology, really appealed to me,” he said. “The podcast emphasized both grace and sanctification.”
As part of the D.Min. program, Craig is preparing a dissertation project to develop training and spiritual formation resources for the staff and volunteers at the Albemarle Pregnancy Resource Center. This center provides counseling, ultrasounds and abortion alternatives for pregnant women.
“I have always been pro-life, but I hadn’t done much about it until the director invited me to come and see the ministry,” Craig said.
For the past six years, Craig has led a weekly Bible study at the Albemarle Pregnancy Resource Center. He has also served as a chaplain for workers and volunteers by providing prayer, pastoral counseling and teaching.
“Workers in pregnancy resource centers have a need for spiritual formation and pastoral counseling as a ministry group because their ministry is so intense,” Craig said. “Typically those in this ministry come from various backgrounds and most do not have any formal training in spiritual formation, warfare or sustainable ministry.”
His goal is to develop a program that can be expanded to other centers.
“Craig has been a true blessing to this ministry and me personally,” Dee Spruce, Director of the Albemarle Pregnancy Resource Center, said. “His work here goes so far beyond our weekly Bible study and prayer meeting. He is a strong advocate for the pro-life movement. The support he lends beyond his time in the center, especially in terms of prayer, has been incredible. We ask, and he steps up. We thank God often for his wisdom, prayer covering, and for his leadership and willingness to hold us accountable. He is a true leader in the pro-life movement!”
Craig is currently pursuing a D.Min. degree and expects to graduate in 2018.
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