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Brutal winters, cultural challenges invigorate missionary-prof in Canada

COCHRANE, Alberta, Canada (BP)–When God started putting together the pieces of Kevin Peacock’s ministry, Peacock didn’t know the picture would include sub-zero temperatures and snow measured by the foot.

But the International Mission Board missionary to Canada doesn’t mind, because he knows he’s exactly where God wants him to be.

Growing up in South Korea where his parents served as missionaries, Peacock has always had missions as a part of his life.

“It became a very natural thing when the Lord called me to be a missionary,” he said.

Since junior high, he knew God was calling him to teach. In college, he thought that meant music. While serving as a journeyman in Scotland, he felt the call to vocational ministry. At Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he earned a Ph.D. in Old Testament, the pieces started coming together. He knew God wanted him to teach and to preach on the mission field. Later, the call was more defined: Be a seminary professor in a cross-cultural setting.

Canada was a perfect fit.

“Everything that I had been going through, every experience that I had had, had been preparing me for this place,” he said. “None of it has been wasted.”

Canada is a nation of many cultures — not a melting pot like the United States, but a mosaic with ethnic groups retaining their identities.

“The result is everything we do in Canada is cross-cultural,” Peacock said. “Canada is such a huge country that no matter where you go, even for a Canadian, you are changing cultures.”

The diversity makes the task of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists that much more difficult. In 1986, the 72-church convention started the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta, to better reach Canadians for Christ.

“Our seminary is different, because we’re in a pioneer setting and we’re training people for pioneer ministry,” said Peacock of the school where he has served as professor of Old Testament since 1997.

Rather than a Baptist church on every corner, Canada now has 150 Southern Baptist churches, mostly small, separated by hundreds of miles.

“Many of the churches are struggling, but we’ve got a very bright future ahead of us,” Peacock said, citing the convention’s goal to plant 1,000 churches in the next 20 years.

The new churches will require leaders, which is where the seminary comes in.

“We believe God can do it and wants to do it. Canadian Southern Baptists are one of the few evangelical groups that are growing,” Peacock said.

The growth means Peacock must minister in many different ways. That’s exactly how he likes it.

“If I just did one thing I wouldn’t be able to work here,” he said. “It just fits me like a glove. I just love having my hands in different things. It kind of puts me on the edge. We really feel like we’re contributing to the kingdom in ways that no one else can.”

In addition to being the only Old Testament and Hebrew professor on the six-member faculty, Peacock directs the field education program and teaches undergraduate courses at Canadian Baptist College.

Peacock is active in his home church, Bow Valley Baptist, and as part of a church plant team for Alpine Christian Ministries in Canmore, a rapidly growing resort community of about 10,000. Peacock also serves as interim pastor for Arabic Christian Fellowship in Calgary. The Arabic-speaking congregation is the only evangelical church reaching out to an Arabic community of about 25,000.

Peacock, who doesn’t speak Arabic, preaches through an interpreter, makes hospital visits and leads Bible studies.

Peacock, whose wife delivered their third child Feb. 24, also spends time with his family. The health of their second child is continuing confirmation that the Peacocks are exactly where God wants them. Micah was born with severe health problems, which Peacock knew limited the places they could go on missions. Cochrane is just 20 miles from Calgary with all the specialists they need just 30 minutes away.

The decision to do doctoral work in Old Testament was a practical one after the IMB told him that no matter what he majored in he would probably end up teaching Old and New Testament.

“I wanted to be as best prepared as I could and present [God] something that he could use in the mission field,” he said about his decision to major in Old Testament and minor in New Testament.

He said he was also attracted by the Old Testament prophets’ confrontational style and their call to righteousness and holiness.

“Part of it may be my personality. I don’t like to mince words,” he said.

Peacock’s busy schedule does not leave a lot of time for research, but Peacock understood that when he accepted IMB appointment in 1996.

“I am a missionary,” he said.

Peacock admits to missing scholarly fellowship, especially because he is the only professor in his field. When he does write, he is usually writing training manuals for ministers to use on the field.

The temperature was 40 below zero the day he and his family moved to Cochrane. But living in Fort Worth, Texas, had helped him adjust.

“Winters can be pretty brutal here, but no matter how cold it gets I’ll never say I wish it were 103 degrees,” he said.

Peacock believes he is where God wants him to be and is willing to stay.

“We’d be pleased if we could stay here until we retired,” he said. “But God reserves the right to pick us up and move us.”

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  • Matt Sanders