He Gave Everything – A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Carpenter

Joan McClendon ('10) and Eugene Carpenter, Ph.D. pose together after commencement in 2010.

Eugene Carpenter, Ph.D., professor of Old Testament and scholar-in-residence, passed away on July 2, 2012. He was 69 years old.

I first met Dr. Carpenter in 2007 in the Master of Ministry Program at Bethel College.  My intentions were to study hard, get my degree and move on. He taught the first class I took in the program. I had a lot of knowledge of the Word of God, but I lacked understanding about what it truly means to be a servant of the Lord.  In the course of that class, Dr. Carpenter taught me not only about the Bible, he also taught me true Christian character.  It was like sitting at the footstool of wisdom.

In discussions in and out of the classroom his passion welled up when he talked about the Old Testament. He knew the Word of God but he also knew God.  This knowledge of God radiated from the humility and respect he showed to his students and his fellow man.

In our first meeting in class, he spoke emotionally about the passing of his mother. I don’t recall how long before that she had passed but the memory was still fresh.  He spoke about the powerful experience of the peace that came on her as she took her last breath. His greatest hope was that one day he too would find that place of rest in Heaven.

On that day, a passion fuelled me to go beyond the pursuit of a degree to discover God in a way I never had before–the God that Dr. Carpenter knew both in his head and in his heart.

I was privileged to share his wisdom on a couple of occasions with my Bible study group that meets on Friday evenings. He patiently answered every question, never in a hurry. This world-class scholar made time to spend with us. He imparted so much to our small group in the time we were together, especially his passion for Jesus.

One day when I visited his office we had another lengthy discussion about the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and I asked him what it looks like to love God with all of your heart, mind and strength. He replied, “Joan… God wants everything. “

Dr. Carpenter gave everything; not only to the people around him but to God. Thank you, God, for sending Dr. Carpenter in my life.

 

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