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 masterâ€™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, â€œI think thatâ€™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.â€ Ah, he used the R-wordâ€”RESPONSIBILITY. I couldnâ€™t get that out of my mind. My wife and I made the decision not to pursue medical school. But we didnâ€™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 stuckâ€”didnâ€™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 werenâ€™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, â€œBut I donâ€™t have any money.â€ His reply? â€œGodâ€™s will wonâ€™t lack Godâ€™s means.â€ So we stepped out on faith. We had an organizational meeting in Dr. Ryrieâ€™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, â€œWell, did you do obeisance?â€ Of course, Dr. Ryrie was not God. Like all of us, he had his â€œhumanity.â€ But more than any other man, God used him to direct the course of my life. Thank you, Dr. Ryrie!