Major: Master of Arts in Christian Studies (now Christian Ministry)
If not for Bryan College, our moving to Ireland to plant churches may not have ever happened. As we look to our past, we usually have 20/20 vision, as it is clear to see why we are where we are.
I have always loved the state of Tennessee. I remember as a kid my family going on vacations to the Smoky Mountains, traveling the winding roads in the mountains, completely different than the flat farm ground in central Illinois. As I got older, I started to have the interest to move down there but wasn’t sure where exactly. Before my wife and I were married, I applied for a few jobs; however, nothing worked out. As time moved on, my wife Rachel and I talked about moving to Tennessee, and she was interested in leaving our small town of Fairbury, IL.
In the fall of 2010, I heard that we had friends of the family that lived in Dayton, TN and taught at Bryan College. Just the thought of going down and visiting them sounded like fun. I started to research Dayton and what exactly Bryan College offered. I had previously received my bachelor’s degree and started to think about going back to school to get my master’s in the ministry field. As I continued to researched, I felt like the desire God put on our hearts to move to Tennessee was a trigger for me to go and get my master’s degree in Christian Studies.
Just a few months later, my wife and I decided to visit Bryan College. We clearly heard God’s call to pick up and move. I began attending Bryan during the summer of 2011. During this program, I loved how we had the small group setting as we went through many different topics. From Old Testament and New Testament theology to other religions and cultures, this schooling really opened my eyes to different things that strengthened my faith with better understanding of God’s Word.
One of the classes that really stuck out was on Apologetics. I enjoyed learning more about how to defend our faith and how to share the Gospel without making arguments. This helped me realize how I need to accomplish 1 Peter 3:15, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this in gentleness and kindness.”
This smaller classroom setting allowed me to ask questions more easily and hear other classmates thoughts. I also enjoyed that not everyone in the classroom was Baptist like myself. With different denominations represented, it allowed me to hear their views on different theological questions.
The semesters at Bryan quickly went by, and I graduated in 2013. Once I received my degree, I wasn’t certain what God intended for me. Though I did not to step into a ministry field, I was still thankful that I had more understanding about doctrine, theology and the Word itself.
In 2014, my wife and I started raising a family with our first child born, Ean Wayne. With this, we thought it would be helpful to move back to our hometown in central Illinois as I also had received a job offer. Then in 2016 we had our first daughter Rylee Jean. Then in 2018 we welcomed our third child, Ela Marie. As our family is growing, we are thankful to have the opportunity for our children to visit their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents often.
However, when everything was feeling comfortable and relaxing, our lives took a turn when I found an organization that was looking for someone to move to Western Europe to help plant churches. As I read this over, I felt God was calling me to use the gifts and schooling that I had received and move. This organization is the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. ABWE sees the spiritual need in the country of Ireland. Ireland currently has less than 1% of evangelical Christians and very few non-Catholic churches throughout the country. Fifty percent of the population is under the age of 30 and atheism, Islam and Hinduism are continuing to grow with this younger generation.
As I found this need, God stirred my heart and passion to go to Ireland. As my wife and I prayed upon this decision, the move to Ireland became as clear as our move to Tennessee. We know God is calling us there. We will be working alongside Irish Baptist Pastors in planting churches. This will be done by using our gifts and abilities to gain relationships in the community in which we will live. From after school events with children, to weekend outings and discipleship, we hope the love of Christ will be seen in us. We will also be able to use our hobbies and talents to volunteer at community events, such as wood working groups and pro-life organizations.
Looking back, it seems clear that God sent us to Tennessee and Bryan College to prepare us for our next move. We will be leaving our family and friends and moving to a country to help fulfill the Great Commission. If you would be interested in hearing more of our story and partnering with us financially and/or in prayer, please see our contact link below.
Evan & Rachel Bachtold