|Source: Baptist Press|
Vic Carpenter’s vocational ministry journey has been non-traditional. An FBI agent whose “day job” involves working in secluded government facilities with limited public interactions, Carpenter knew since his undergraduate years that he wanted to go into ministry.
He remarked, “I felt called to ministry in college. I was raised in a Christian home and thought I’d take the straightforward path…After that, I went to Southeastern Seminary to earn my Ph.D.”
Dabbling in real estate as a broker to help cover seminary expenses, Carpenter kept feeling the tug to return to pulpit ministry.
While I did that, I served as an associate pastor and got my real estate license. So, for three years, I juggled my Ph.D. program and being a real estate agent,” he said.
Answering the call to serve a large urban congregation in downtown Durham, North Carolina, Carpenter noticed that despite the church having a large building and a storied past, the congregation was withering.
“It was an older, dying church that had declined to a handful of people, barely filling up a few pews,” Carpenter said. Despite his best efforts, all their attempts at revitalization failed leaving Carpenter to feel defeated.
After completing his PhD., he knew it was time to move on.
“I started applying all over the U.S. to find a different church to pastor. I applied to different places for almost a year and heard no callbacks. Everything seemed to be dying underneath me,” he said.
The prolonged period of limited employment resulted in his family suffering financially, so he began searching for jobs outside of vocational ministry that would help them meet their needs.
“I just started applying for jobs that would help me provide for my family,” Carpenter said. “One Friday night – on a pure whim – I looked into the FBI and applied. I didn’t tell anyone at first, not even my wife. I figured it was just a waste of time.”
To his surprise, Carpenter heard back from the Bureau, and after a protracted interview process was headed to the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia.
“It was a radical change of events,” he said. “It provided for my family, and it was exciting in a certain way. But it was also the death of a vision. It felt like I wasted the last 10 years of my life.”
Working with the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), Carpenter’s 12-man operator class became close and began sharing about their faith.
“I realized I was able to witness to people that few others had access to,” he said. “In God’s providence, three other guys in my class and I started a workplace Bible study. It was the first time I’d ever done a Bible study in that type of environment.”
As time passed and the group continued to share and their families became closer knit, one night after bible study the question was posed “why don’t we start a church?” recalled Carpenter.
Sponsored by Spotswood Baptist Church, the team of FBI agents planted Redeemer Bible Church in August 2019. Initially meeting in a middle school auditorium on the other side of town. When the pandemic hit, they lost access to the school.
“For a while we were meeting in a church member’s backyard, then in a giant field,” Carpenter said. “And the Lord just kept doubling the church and supplying our needs – even during the height of the pandemic,” he said. “And here we are, two and half years later, and we rent a building in our target area (at an affordable price), we run two services, averaging 400 people per week and we just started another Redeemer Bible Church in a town about 45 minutes north of us.”
Though Carpenter’s path to the pulpit was unconventional, his testimony demonstrates that he is exactly where God wants him to be, a bivocational FBI agent helping to lead others to Christ.
Source: Baptist Press