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Seeing double: Twins prepare for ministry together at Southern, Boyce
June 04, 2007
By David Roach
If you walk down the halls of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary or Boyce College these days, you might think you're seeing double.
But before you check your vision, consider the possibility that you may have just passed one of the two sets of identical twins preparing for ministry together.
Richard and Danny McDonald and Nate and Mike Hampshire have all been called to ministry independently. Yet God providentially allowed each set of twins to remain together as they pursue theological education.
"I don't think it's a mere coincidence that God has led us both here," Danny said, "especially when you take into account that in college we tried too much to be different. ... God has brought our paths back together at the same institution."
Richard and Danny, now 30, grew up in Denham Springs, La. Danny sensed a call to ministry while he was a freshman at Northeast Louisiana University. Richard also began to consider a call to ministry at Northeast Louisiana, and God confirmed his call to ministry as he transferred to Louisiana State University and served as an International Mission Board missionary in Thailand.
Though Richard and Danny have long made an attempt not to be the same, God gave each a similar conviction that he needed to prepare for ministry by attending Southern.
"The Lord's funny in that He brings us to the same places even though we try not to do things the same," Richard said.
In college Danny grew his hair long, while Richard kept his short. Danny has also always been more extroverted than Richard. Their different personalities were evident when a local television station interviewed the twins for a story and Danny did all the talking.
But today they have made peace with their similarities. Both have a desire to teach the Bible to others, and they will likely graduate around the same time. Both are also married, and Danny's two girls have made Richard want to have daughters as well.
They have even learned to deal with the fact that people at seminary sometimes confuse them and begin a conversation with one thinking he is the other. At times they carry on conversations pretending they are the other brother in order to help a confused friend not feel foolish.
The McDonalds now recognize that God has given them a gift by allowing them to pursue similar courses in life and support one another during their seminary years.
"We're always there for each other in terms of support," Danny said. "Since he's been up here, he and I have been able to talk a lot more because we have more common points of reference now."
Nate and Mike have a similar story. They have not tried to be similar, but God has led them independently to both theological education and military service.
The 24-year-old twins are students at Boyce College and have already served three foreign military deployments between them. Mike served in Afghanistan and Iraq with the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion of the Army Reserve, where he is a sergeant. Nate served in Kosovo with the 206th Engineer Battalion of the Kentucky Army National Guard.
"We're patriots and wanting to get through college," Nate said, speaking for both because Mike was preparing for another deployment in Iraq at the end of May.
God called each to ministry while he was attending a state college — Mike at Eastern Kentucky University and Nate at Morehead State. When Nate heard about Boyce, he called his brother, who agreed that Boyce was an ideal place for them to prepare for ministry.
Despite their status as identical twins, Nate said personality and physical appearance set them apart. At 6 feet 6 inches, Nate stands one inch taller than Mike, and friends have learned to tell them apart.
"We're different enough that people can generally tell us apart," Nate said. "He wears glasses normally, and I normally wear contacts. He's a little bit thinner. ... He usually is a little more shy and reserved, and I'm more outgoing. People at first confuse us. But when they get to know us, they can start to tell us apart."
Upon graduation, Nate plans to enter fulltime vocational ministry while Mike plans to pursue a career in the criminal justice system and do ministry as a layman.
"Thinking in secular terms you would think it's just one copying the other or something like that. But we don't think in secular terms," Nate said.