Stepping out with God
In the last few months I have often been asked how I got from being a physicist to being a ‘published theologian’, and the honest answer would be that only the Lord really knows!
God certainly gave me a character that meant from an early age I loved the challenge and fulfilment of making things. As a schoolboy, it was making plastic model aircraft. In my twenties as a physicist, it was making microscopic quantum electronic devices. In my thirties, it was creating new-fangled internet services. In my forties, it was engaging the imagination of families around the world as I helped make Disney’s digital entertainment and run Disney’s online business.
“God certainly gave me a character that meant from an early age I loved the challenge and fulfilment of making things… In my twenties as a physicist, it was making microscopic quantum electronic devices… In my forties, it was engaging the imagination of families by running Disney’s online business.”
God also chose to break into my life in a very personal way in my late teens, to disciple me especially through my local Youth Fellowship and through Scripture Union Scotland, and to continue shaping me through church leadership roles from a relatively young age. And, looking back, I can recognise that God continued to shape traits in me that worked across, and wove together, my professional and spiritual life: a gift for forming, equipping and releasing teams of people to excel; a fascination for the principles of communicating effectively, and a passion for simply making things happen.
But then, in 2012…crisis hit! Looking back on that time in hindsight, I had not been listening carefully enough to God for a while and it took God putting me through a year of tribulation for me to listen. Overnight, a sweet-tasting and fulfilling career in industry turned to sand in my mouth until – in desperation – I renewed my surrender to God’s will.
Above: Myles’ cohort when studying his MA in Applied Theology with us at Moorlands College.
Quite quickly this led me to Moorlands College, as I gave up business life and made the time for theology studies. Despite my concern that as a scientist and business man I had never written a humanities style academic essay in my life, the Moorlands College approach to the MA in Applied Theology was a perfect match for me. Its modular structure gives the mature believer with academic/professional experience the time to seek future ministry opportunities while also ‘retraining’ in theology; the ‘applied theology’ approach encourages such students to bring all their professional, life and church experience to bare in a very beneficial way; and the focus on ‘practice’ allows us to immediately use what we learn at Moorlands in our ministry as we fit all our years of experience within new theological frameworks.
“Overnight, a sweet-tasting and fulfilling career in industry turned to sand in my mouth until – in desperation – I renewed my surrender to God’s will.”
This academically rigorous, practical theological grounding I received at Moorlands certainly gave my wife and I additional confidence as we stepped out with God anew in 2014 and – in a move that turned out to be a greater surprise to us than our friends and family – end up on the mission field in Malawi with Zambesi Mission. Acting as Church Development Partners, for the last three years we have been able to deploy all our life-skills for the benefit of the church in Malawi while also learning so many things about ourselves, about God and about his world.
Above: Out in the mission field of Malawi
Here in Malawi, I have been able to further my Moorlands-encouraged passion in preaching and preacher training: carrying out field research for my MA dissertation on how best to create contextual, scalable and sustainable grassroots preacher training in sub-Saharan Africa and then – among other things – developing such a grassroots training program that is now rolling out across Malawi.
And so that is how a physicist gets to being a ‘published theologian’ – by stepping out with God! First I was able to combine a small piece of my Malawi field data with a piece of work I did for an MA assignment on preaching set by Chris Sinkinson and see it published in Evangelical Review of Theology. [1.] Then, encouraged by evaluation feedback from Ian Coffey, I have also recently completed reworking my dissertation into a book due for release by Apostolos Publishing in January 2018 [2.] and is available now for pre-order.
“I was able to combine a small piece of my Malawi field data with a piece of work I did for an MA assignment and see it published in Evangelical Review of Theology… I have also recently completed reworking my dissertation into a book”
At the end of November 2017, Ruth and I return to the UK at the end of our three-year assignment. Please pray for us as we seek to discern how we should be stepping out with God next.
Above: Myles’ latest book, Preach the Word: Towards effective grassroots preacher training in sub-Saharan Africa, available for pre-order now.
You can find out more about Ruth and Myles’s time in Malawi, and follow them as they continue seeking to step out with God, by visiting their blog at www.steppingoutwithgod.com
[1.] Myles MacBean, “The Homiletic Window: A model for reflective preaching praxis”, Evangelical Review of Theology, 41:3, 2017, 209-221.
[2.] Myles MacBean, Preach the Word: Towards effective grassroots preacher training in sub-Saharan Africa, London: Apostolos Publishing, 2018. (See http://www.apostolos-publishing.com/product/preach-the-word)