Dr. Charles Ryrie impacted millions of lives through his writings, his preaching, and his teaching. I am just one of them. But since this is my tribute to him, I want to share two times his influence changed the direction of my life. The first was the end of my master’s program at DTS. I had been pre-med at Rice and decided early on to combine medicine with theology to be a medical missionary. At the end of seminary I was studying for the MCAT exam, a formality since I already had verbal admissions to two med schools.
Dr. Ryrie was my senior counselor and asked me to drop by one afternoon. He asked my plans, and I told him I was about to apply for med school with a view toward medical missions. He said, “I think that’s a good thing, but if you graduated from this school, I think you have more responsibility than that. For every one of you there are a thousand doctors.” Ah, he used the R-word—RESPONSIBILITY. I couldn’t get that out of my mind. My wife and I made the decision not to pursue medical school. But we didn’t know what we would do. We looked at mission boards, but they all wanted to take our kids away when they were six and put them in a school for missionary kids. That seemed to go against everything Dr. Hendricks taught us about the Christian home.
So we were stuck—didn’t now what to do. Never thought seriously about becoming a preacher. Who in his right mind would want to do that, right? Nevertheless, we wound up church planting. That seemed kind of like missionary work, and they weren’t going to take our kids away. As the years went by I picked up a PhD from DTS, and they began utilizing me as an adjunct professor.
Then in 2001 I was having lunch with Dr. Ryrie as I did from time to time. I shared some unmet needs I saw in the seminary world, and he encouraged me to start another seminary. I said, “But I don’t have any money.” His reply? “God’s will won’t lack God’s means.” So we stepped out on faith. We had an organizational meeting in Dr. Ryrie’s apartment, and he wrote our doctrinal statement.
Through the years Dr. Ryrie supported our school financially and with many encouraging notes and personal words of encouragement. A few years back my daughter and I spent a week at the Word of Life center at Schroon Lake, NY. They have a two-year Bible college there with a veritable shrine to Dr. Ryrie. They have a newspaper clipping about his leaving the banking world to go to seminary. They have the old manual typewriter he used to create the Ryrie Study Bible. Shortly after that trip I saw Dr. Ryrie in Dallas and told him I had visited the shrine to him at Schroon Lake. With a twinkle in his eye he said, “Well, did you do obeisance?” Of course, Dr. Ryrie was not God. Like all of us, he had his “humanity.” But more than any other man, God used him to direct the course of my life. Thank you, Dr. Ryrie!