Couple overcomes obstacles through distance learning at seminary
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” has become the motto of Charles and Spring Reed’s ministry as they spread the Gospel despite difficulty.
When Charles was just four years old, living in a small Tennessee town, he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy that led to his being almost completely wheelchair-bound by the age of 9. In high school he began to lose strength in his hands and in college began having respiratory problems until he needed a tracheostomy.
But instead of allowing himself to remain discouraged, Charles and his wife Spring use their story to encourage others.
While still a young boy, not long after he was confined to a wheelchair, Charles became a follower of Christ, a defining moment that shaped his future and strengthened him through times of discouragement and depression. That decision eventually led him to attend Union University, where he felt called into the ministry.
In October of 2012, the Reeds began their ministry through blog posts on their website as well as through speaking engagements at churches and other venues. They have also been keynote speakers for the Speak foundation based out of Atlanta and spoke at a high school’s baccalaureate service. Spring also leads women’s events and often sings at their events.
Because of the travel equipment needed to accommodate Charles’ health situation, the Reeds are often confined to a 100-mile radius from their home in Dyer, Tenn. They have traveled to Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia for events, but they found it difficult to travel so far. They hope one day to have the ability and resources that would allow them to expand their reach.
Charles says God has provided just what they need each step along the way in their ministry. For example, he worked for his family’s trucking company for a time before being able to transition into full-time ministry.
Charles and Spring say God also provided them with each other at the right time. In 2011, Charles and Spring met and were married after God led them to each other despite living states apart. Spring, a Texas native who studied nursing, is able to assist Charles with his medical needs. She has also felt a call to missions since she was young.
Before meeting Charles, Spring completed her Master of Arts in Christian Education with a concentration in women’s ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008. Spring says she enjoyed studying under Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs, who continues to mentor her in ministry and personal life.
“She gave me a lot of guidance because I was doing women’s ministry,” Spring says of Stovall, who also gave her counsel before she married and visited the Reeds when Charles faced serious medical difficulties last year.
Spring’s time at Southwestern helped her as she served for a time in women’s ministry at an East Texas church. Spring credits her Southwestern education with preparing her for their current ministry by strengthening her faith, showing her how to serve alongside her husband, and training her how to complete practical tasks such as coordinating events.
“My seminary education has helped me in so many ways just in day-to-day life in our ministry,” Spring says.
Charles also decided to prepare himself further for their young ministry by registering for the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) at Southwestern Seminary in 2013. The completely online master’s degree is a perfect fit for his circumstances.
Charles wanted to continue his education at a conservative institution and says Southwestern fit the bill.
“I was just wanting to learn more for our ministry,” Charles says.
Charles took two courses his first semester but had to accept incompletes when he became seriously ill in November. He is now completing those courses and looks forward to starting additional classes this summer.
Charles plans to complete the MTS program in about three and a half years, saying the program is a good addition to an undergraduate degree and possibly a step toward receiving a Master of Divinity.
According to Charles, the courses have helped him greatly, and he likes that the MTS program allows him to continue his education while they also continuing their ministry.
“Our ministry is mainly about reaching others and showing them what God can be to their lives if they give their lives over to Him,” Charles says. The Reeds also minister to Christians who are disabled or have disabled family members but need encouragement.
“We want to give them hope that God has a plan for their lives and that God is faithful. He can use them for whatever He has for them,” Charles says. “He will work things out for His will and that may not be what we want all the time.”
Charles says they have to remember that God’s will comes before their own as they have faced physical difficulties and other discouragements.
“There are times when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere,” Charles says.
Spring says they push through those difficulties so they can be used by God as an encouragement and hope for others.
“No matter what you do, no matter how many people you reach,” Spring says, “you need to be doing exactly what God has called you to do and what He wants you to do, or it’s all for nothing.
“We’re not perfect people by any means, but I think that the challenges that we face inspire other people to face the challenges they have and to continue to trust the Lord no matter how dark and difficult the days get.”