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McClellan finds 'dream' ministry role as professor at Boyce College
November 08, 2004
By Ericia Boggs
The U.S. Army used to call them "dream sheets." In the early 1970s, when soldiers prepared for commissioning and assignment, soldiers would fill out these forms, identifying the places they would most like to serve.
One of these soldiers was a recent college grad, Mark McClellan. At the time, the current Boyce College professor had his own ideas about his dream future — in the Caribbean, Mediterranean or Latin America. God had other plans.
Growing up in a little town outside of Cincinnati, McClellan was raised in a Catholic family.
"Yet I didn't know Jesus as my Savior," said McClellan, professor of Christian theology.
When he graduated from high school, he began attending Arizona State University, but he eventually moved back home to attend the University of Cincinnati, where he graduated with a degree in political science.
Before his senior year he was set to go to Vietnam as an infantry officer, and upon graduation he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. Just before graduation, the president began to shut down the Vietnam War, and McClellan was then given his "dream" choice.
Although many servicemen and women did not get their choice of places to go, McClellan got his — Panama. There, he served as an airborne ranger and small unit leader in guerrilla warfare for a year and a half. When he returned to the states, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division.
It was in the 101st that God began to lead him in a different direction. The commanding general of his battalion allowed Campus Crusade groups to give presentations on post at chapels. One of these workers invited McClellan to see "A Time to Run," a Billy Graham movie.
"I really saw what was missing in my life," McClellan said. "When the invitation was given, I wanted to go forward, but did not know what to do. Later that night, I read the Bible and alone on my knees, I gave my life to Christ. I was dramatically changed and it was completely the providence of God."
McClellan grew quickly in his faith. The following week, two members of the Navigators followed up with him. In addition, McClellan was connected with the post chapel where there was a conservative Baptist chaplain who offered "good Bible preaching."
After serving four years of active duty and completing his military tour, McClellan left the army for a tour of another sort — law school, where he met Cindy, his wife of 27 years.
Upon early completion at law school he and his wife moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where he practiced law for two and a half years as a trial lawyer, mostly in federal courts.
While in Arizona, the McClellans were very active lay people in their church and served in many areas, yet McClellan did not feel worthy or qualified for full-time ministry. God, however, began doing a work in their hearts, and eventually they surrendered to the call to missions.
They left Phoenix and moved to Texas where McClellan attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, they became missionaries with the IMB. Ironically, the McClellans returned to his "dream" location -— Latin America. In this case, it was Guatemala, a country that would be their home for the next 13 years.
After serving several years, he took a leave of absence, returned to the states and began studying for his Ph.D. During this time, he met and became friends with current Boyce professor Chad Brand while they were both students at Southwestern.
McClellan returned to the mission field but came back to the states in 1997 for furlough. During that time, he finished his Ph.D.
Although he desired and had planned to return to Latin America, God opened another opportunity for him. He became the director of the Golden Gate Seminary's Arizona campus in Phoenix, and he also served there as associate professor of theology and ethics.
"Every place I've been, I've never intended to leave, but I began to believe that God was leading me to work with college students," McClellan said.
He knew that he would have to move east if he was going to teach at a Baptist College.
"I knew it meant [returning] to the Bible belt," he said. "And then one day, Chad Brand called and asked if I would consider coming to teach at Boyce because he knew there was a teaching position going to be open."
Former Boyce College dean Jerry Johnson began "recruiting" McClellan.
He came to visit Boyce's campus the week that a debate on eschatology was held in Boyce Chapel for students.
"I was taken by the students here," he recalled. "Boyce Chapel was full. I saw all of these students standing for a voluntary event. I was extremely impressed."
Currently, McClellan is serving the Boyce community as a professor and as the area coordinator for Boyce's missions, evangelism and church growth track. His wife, Cindy, works in the office of institutional relations. The youngest of his three sons, Jared, is currently a student at Boyce.
McClellan still has a passion to minister to Hispanics, as well. The McClellans are serving at the Hispanic mission of the First Baptist Church of Clarksville, Ind.
McClellan is teaching six classes at Boyce and will be teaching theology classes in the new master of divinity in Spanish program at Southern Seminary, directed by David Sills.
"My time here has been wonderful. I love the classes and the students," McClellan said. "I'm having a great time."
He continues to have a high view of the Boyce students, and he wants to encourage them to remain faithful to the calling God has placed on their lives.
McClellan's goal as a professor is to help the students be further along and more mature in their Christian walk when they leave than when they came to Boyce.
"I want to help them become Christian disciples," he said. "There's no greater pursuit or purpose than knowing, worshipping, serving and glorifying the true and living God.
"This purpose knows no boundaries, classes, crosses all vocations, is confined to no culture and transcends all time. It's worthy to be the consuming passion of every life for all of life."