Travis Caldeira l NTS Class of 2016
Master of Divinity Degree Program
Three years ago, I couldn’t have imagined living in Kansas City. I was approaching my senior year at Point Loma and, while I had thought about continuing my education, the Midwest was far beyond my radar. Honestly, who leaves the beautiful beaches and the predictable weather of Southern California behind in favor of Missouri? Who would even build a seminary in such a place? I thought I’d have to be crazy to even consider leaving home.
Leaps of faith generally seem crazy. They defy our calculations and often go against our better judgment. They aren’t logical or predictable. They are rooted in an obedience that abandons selfish desires in order to follow God’s direction. Surrendering ourselves is never easy, but it is a constituent part of our faith. We cannot be faithful without obedience.
Yet, it is our faith which enables us to remain obedient. Although leaps of faith sometimes involve jumping into the unknown, we do not do so blindly. On the contrary, our obedience rests upon our hope in God’s faithfulness. We trust in God’s continuing ministry of reconciliation. We trust that, somehow, God will use us as instruments to build God’s Kingdom. We even trust that, as we follow Christ, God will continue to mold us into Christ’s likeness.
It was certainly a leap of faith for my wife, Felisha, and I to move here, and we have been transformed by the experience. I came to Kansas City expecting to learn from NTS, and I have not been disappointed. The faculty and staff at the seminary pour their knowledge and wisdom into students. I have not only felt welcomed into the classroom, but also into the hearts of my professors. They have taught me how to pastor by embodying pastoral care to me.
Still, while NTS has exceeded my expectations, I did expect to learn in the classroom; I didn’t, however, expect to learn from Kansas City itself. Maybe that’s because, before moving here, Felisha and I didn’t know anything about this city or its history. We couldn’t have created expectations if we wanted to. We only knew that, as strange as it seemed, God was calling us to come here. So, in March of 2012, we flew into KCI for the first time. We were already pretty sure that we would be moving to Kansas City, but we wanted to visit the seminary and needed to find a place to live. A few months later, after our graduations and our wedding, we packed up a truck and began our journey to the Midwest.
Little did we know, the cute house we had decided to rent was in the inner city. Maybe we should’ve picked up on the signs of poverty during that initial visit. Maybe we could’ve delved deeper into the statistics of the area before placing our deposit. I’m glad we didn’t. Our decision to follow God here has lead to some of the most formative and shaping experiences of our lives.
Our tradition has always emphasized the importance of serving the poor. I remember learning about this in college and discussing it with my classmates. But no amount of reading, writing, or discourse can teach the desperate need of the poor better than living among them. In the past two years, I have met mothers who lost their children in random shootings. I have met children who can’t even hope for college because their public schools are unaccredited. I have encountered the devastation of addiction and the oppression of despair. I have been forced to confront my own stereotypes and challenged to see everyone through Christ’s love.
Three years ago, I couldn’t have imagined living in Kansas City. Today, I can’t imagine my life without the formative experiences which have taken place here. Nazarene Theological Seminary is about deliberate instruction, careful teaching, and a compassionate community, but it is much more than that. Moving to Kansas City has connected Felisha and I to the roots of our tradition and opened our eyes to areas in desperate need of Christ’s love. We praise God for leading us here and pray that more will take the leap of faith which has transformed our lives.