Berry uses experience as tutor to shape how he teaches at TBC
Child, student, tutor, and instructor are all titles that have applied to Brian Berry, instructor of biblical studies at Texas Baptist College (TBC), at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Though he has worn many hats during his time on campus, his commitment has stayed the same since he felt a calling from the Lord in 2011 to further the Kingdom of God through teaching and preaching.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Berry’s life began on Southwestern’s campus as his father, Johnny Berry, studied, and eventually graduated with his Master of Divinity in 1982, from the Southern Baptist institution. His family moved around often throughout his life growing up as his father was a chaplain for both the federal prison system and the United States Army Reserves.
“Phoenix, Arizona, is where I think of when I think of home as we lived there from third grade until the end of my junior year when I was 17,” Berry explained.
Berry said that the move from Phoenix back to Fort Worth was difficult as he had made plans to go to college in the Phoenix area and was leaving many friends. He described that bitterness grew toward his father.
“The bitterness I felt towards my father due to the move really grew throughout my senior year of high school,” Berry said. “That led me to live a rebellious lifestyle after I graduated high school until I was about 21 years old.”
After living in disobedience for three years, Berry said that God “convicted” him of his sin and began to draw him to Himself.
“After feeling convicted, I started trying to do things that I remembered from growing up like going to church more and reading my Bible on my own and tried to get that feeling away,” Berry said. “Well, the feeling got worse after I read the Bible as I felt worse about my convictions. My mom convinced me to start going to church with her again.”
He said that a minister at their church, Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, taught a lesson on Hebrews 1 that helped the “lights come on” and “hit home” for him about who Jesus is.
“For the first time, Jesus wasn’t a fairytale or a story; He was real,” Berry recalled. “I knew that if He was real, then I would have to see Him one day and I didn’t want to see Him as a judge. I gave my life to Christ that day and was baptized a few weeks after that.”
After earning his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Texas at Arlington, Berry began to feel called to serve the Lord and His church in ministry, specifically in the area of preaching and teaching.
“After leaving Cornerstone, I became a member at Beth Eden Baptist Church in Fort Worth, and I began to get really involved in ministry there,” Berry said. “I felt called to preach in 2011 and I’ve been preaching every now and then since then. Now I serve as an associate minister at Destiny Church in Fort Worth.”
Following his call to preach and teach, Berry said he wanted to learn how to handle Scripture more accurately so he could best use his gifts from the Lord. This led him to earn his Master of Divinity at Southwestern Seminary and eventually become the biblical language tutor.
Through his time as the language tutor, Berry instructed students of all academic levels with varying knowledge and understanding how to best learn Greek or Hebrew. Many students were impacted during his time as the language tutor.
One student, Sam Kim, a Master of Divinity student with a concentration in biblical languages from South Korea, said that Berry was “so much more than just a person to help with homework” and that he helped him throughout most of his language courses.
“I told him that I was interested in studying at the doctoral level and he mentioned how many faculty members poured into him when he was interested in higher degrees,” Kim said. “I could really tell that he wanted to do the same for me and for all of the students that he helps. He encouraged me to work diligently on my studies and that this is all for the Kingdom of God.”
Another student, Kalena Keven, a Master of Divinity student with a concentration in chaplaincy from Las Vegas, Nevada, said that Berry is “so wonderful” in how he interacts with students.
“I’m not on campus much, but I got to come to campus and watch him teach one of his Greek classes, and it was a nice, refreshing flashback for me,” Keven said. “He is so engaging with students and he makes them actually want to listen and pay attention during class. He just does so much and he is so wonderful with his students.”
Berry said that his teaching style stems from how he was able to tutor students for the years he served in that capacity.
“When I teach, I want to make sure I hit two big parts: focus on the details, but see how they fit in the big picture,” Berry said. “I like to play games or songs when teaching to help the students learn more and I really try to meet them where they learn the best to give them that big picture of what they’re learning.”
Outside of teaching, Berry said that he enjoys spending time with his wife, Stephanie, and his two children, and practicing his biblical languages casually. He enjoys sports and helping his daughter become better for her track team.
“I actually didn’t know anything about track until she got into it, so I had to read up and learn that,” Berry said. “I really want to be able to help her with it, so I made that a hobby of mine.”
While on campus, but not in the classroom, Berry enjoys advising his students on which classes they should take, but also advising them on how to handle different life situations.
“My undergraduate degree was in social work, so I learned how to ask certain questions to help people,” Berry said. “When students come in for advising, I get a chance to really invest in their lives outside of just teaching them information.”
Berry said he also enjoys playing in the various competitions between students and faculty such as the paint war and softball game.
At the same time that Berry is investing in the lives of students, he is pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Theology at Southwestern Seminary.
Berry is committed to furthering the Kingdom of God through his work in empowering future leaders at TBC. He works with his students to be prepared for whatever the Lord’s calling is on their lives.