Robin Gaines: child of God, beautiful, intelligent, wise, industrious, kind, and disciplined. And for a long stretch in her life, running from God’s call!
When Robin joined Friendship Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, she joined a loving community under the leadership of her longtime family friend, Bishop Duane Tisdale. She felt accepted, loved, and safe. While she was faithfully serving in her church, inside she felt God was leading her to something more. Bishop Tisdale also recognized her potential as a leader in the Church and began speaking to her about greater leadership opportunities. But,Robin was stubborn. After all, following God’s call would likely mean change.
New Year’s Eve 1998, Robin’s polite rebellion against God drove her to stay away from the celebrations at her church. She decided to stay home, go to bed and sleep the night away. Before she could drift off, God spoke to her, “You will accept your calling this night.” Bam! And just like that she was on her knees, crying and repenting of her rejection of what God wanted to do with her life.
Now that Robin was on board with God, she began to have a greater hunger to know and serve Him. In addition to her full-time job, she was taking classes in the nursing program at the University of Toledo. She increasingly hated it! What she really wanted was to pursue Christian leadership, but she was unsure how she could make this work. Then her pastor recommended Winebrenner Theological Seminary, explaining that Robin might be able to pursue a graduate degree with a “BA equivalent” designation. Turns out that Robin did have enough undergraduate credit hours to qualify and in 2016, she began her studies in the Master of Divinity program.
In the beginning, Robin was terrified. God had brought her to, but would He empower to make it through? Could this middle-aged woman “keep up” at the graduate level? She remembers sitting in her professor’s office in tears, afraid she wasn’t equipped for the task. She simply didn’t have enough knowledge, faith and confidence. Her professors assured her she was completely on track and her high grades were a reflection of her God-given intelligence and hard work.
In March 2017, Robin fell gravely ill. Her family, home church and churches across the U.S. prayed fervently that she would even survive. Winebrenner too joined Robin’s support network, praying with her often over the phone. And as her strength returned, her instructors and classmates helped Robin through her courses. The trial “flipped a switch” in Robin. The loving care she received from her professors and the Winebrenner leadership taught her that she was in a safe place. Her fears and uncertainty fell away and she was able to forge ahead in her studies in freedom and trust.
Robin is stronger every day and lives on the truth that Jesus and His people surround her with loving support. Determined to finish her MDiv at Winebrenner, Robin shares, “I’m in for the long haul!” It would seem that her “stubbornness” can be put to good use, working for Jesus rather than against Him!
If you too feel God prompting you to theological education, request more information about Winebrenner and we will gladly share what path is best for you and God’s unique call on your life.