February 26, 2006 - I AM WILSHIRE - PAUL PAYWAY
...Paul Payway is pursuing a doctor of ministry degree, with an emphasis on evangelism and missions, at Southern Methodist University,s Perkins School of Theology.He
was born in Monrovia, Liberia, where his
father, an evangelist and pastor, preached in local dialects for the African Methodist Episcopal Church
. As a child, Payway
was required to attend worship and to return at 2 p.m. for Sunday School. ,There were penalties, such as no lunch or dinner at home,, for missing church, he
said.In addition, he
couldn,t attend children,s shows and movies that took place during Sunday School.Such restrictions ,created some resentment,, he
said. ,I did not want to be a minister or in the church at all.,At age 10, he
enrolled in an international school in Yekepa.There he
began visiting a church led by a Southern Baptist missionary. ,At this church I was not coerced or forced,, he
said. ,In 1983, at the age of 13, I made a decision to accept Jesus Christ.,Active in the church, Payway
became a mentor for younger boys but resisted the feeling that God was calling him to ministry.He
knew that ministers in Liberia didn,t earn enough to support their families, and Payway
wanted to have more time with his
family than his
father had.Originally planning to study chemistry, he
won a scholarship to the University of Liberia
.However, ,my pastor saw something in me that God wanted to use me in ministry.He
said God would put things in place, financially if God were calling him.In 1989, although some people thought he
was ,going nuts,, Payway
enrolled in the Baptist seminary in Monrovia. ,When I got there, I was told that my tuition had been paid anonymously, even health insurance and living expenses.I then knew God was calling me.,In his
junior year, a church started by the Southern Baptist Convention
called him as associate pastor.A year later, he
was ordained to the gospel ministry. In 1996, the senior pastor left during a civil war, so Payway became acting pastor.In 1997, he was elected pastor after meeting a major requirement: he had to be married. ,This is very important in Africa,, he said.
had met his
future wife, Helen, in 1992, when she
was a university student. ,We had been dating for several years, and we made a decision to marry,, he
said. Although the church grew during Payway
,s ministry, it could not cover his
expenses, so he
taught language arts and Bible at a public school.To continue, he was required to earn a master,s degree in education.
Before finishing, however, he
investigated Perkins, master of divinity program.He
won a scholarship that covers expenses for the entire family. ,One criterion was being a pastor in my own country,, he said.
The Payway family includes Paul
, age 5, and Helena, age 2.Expecting to finish his
doctorate in May 2007, Payway hopes to teach at the seminary run by the Liberian Baptist Missionary and Education Convention
and to write K-12 curriculum for its auxiliary, the Liberian Baptist Sunday School Convention
.Initially, however, he will be bivocational, so he will finish his master,s degree and continue teaching.
spent a semester as a chaplain intern at Baylor Hospital.
,The Wilshire connection made it easier,, he
said.If accepted in Baylor,s year-long clinical pastoral education program, he
will begin this fall.