I have been blogging for over a year and a half now, but I have never taken the time to give an extended account of my life journey thus far. The short version of the story is that God has been incredibly gracious to me and I am just a tiny little part of God’s “big story.” Hope you are blessed to read about how God has been working in my life.
My name is Daniel Stegeman and I am the senior pastor of a small church in Sulphur Springs, Ohio. My story started 27 years ago in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada where I was the second of 3 children in our family. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a Christian home where we went to church regularly and I had an understanding of God from an early age. During my early years, the most important thing in my life was sports. I was not a typical Canadian boy because I quit Hockey when I was in 4th grade and instead focused on Baseball, Basketball, Golf, and eventually Football. To say the least, I loved sports and loved to compete.
I am thankful that I grew up in a Christian home, however, I did not give my life to the Lord until the summer before my senior year of high school. I had heard the gospel many times and thought I was Christian, but I did not fully understand what it meant to follow Jesus Christ. I can remember times as a young boy where I would start off in the morning with the goal of not sinning throughout the day. As you might have guessed, it never took me long before I failed in my quest to be a “good Christian.”
My conversion didn’t happen until the summer before my senior of high school. One of the youth groups in my town was going to a Christian youth conference in Knoxville, Tennessee and I decided to join them. My main reason for going was not because I wanted to learn more about God, but because I wanted to travel and see another part of the world. But during the conference, the Lord did a powerful work within me even though at first I did not realize it. On the fourth night, I felt an overwhelming sense of my own sinfulness and my desperate need for God. The speaker that night suggested talking to a youth leader if we felt the Lord stirring in our hearts. I went and found our youth pastor and shared with him how the Lord had showed me my great need for Christ. I shared my story of how for so many years I had tried to put off sin in my life, but had always failed because I was trying to do it in my own strength. My youth pastor did not know what to say, but he didn’t need to say anything. I finally realized that I must trust Jesus and “His righteousness” for my salvation. We prayed together and that was the moment of my conversion.
As a child, I can remember numerous times where I committed (or rededicated) my life to the Lord, and the result was always the same. I would stay on a spiritual high for a week or two, and then I would go back to being the same old Daniel, with little or no change in my life. Well, this time was different as I came home a new man. Of course I was far from perfect, but the Lord had saved me and it was clear that the Holy Spirit was very much a part of my life. It was not long into my senior year that I felt the Lord leading me to go to Bible College after I graduated. And it was not too long after that that I sensed the Lord leading me in the direction of pastoral ministry. The Lord was doing amazing things in my life and I would never be the same again.
In the fall of 2001, I headed to southern Saskatchewan to attend Briercrest College. I had no idea what to expect, but my four years at Briercrest proved to be very challenging and rewarding at the same time. It is difficult to explain the amount of growth that I experienced during my college years. As I look back on those years, I am so grateful to God for all that He did in my life. The factors that contributed to my growth during this time were my professors, my friends and mentor’s, and my desire to grow and learn. I had some excellent professors who not only challenged me academically, but also spiritually to seek hard after God. And while I had some friends who had no desire to serve the Lord or to take their studies seriously, I also had some friends who challenged me and motivated me to pursue Christ and strive for excellence. The Lord also blessed me with two mentors who I am grateful for.
I graduated from Briercrest in the spring of 2005 with a BA in Christian Ministry. Pastoral ministry was still where I felt the Lord was leading me, so I decided to attend Regent College in Vancouver, BC. As always, God proved to be faithful. My time at Regent proved to be just as fruitful as my time at Briercrest. The Lord stretched me, pruned me, sharpened me, and prepared me through my seminary experience. I had originally intended to pursue an MDiv at Regent, but I ended up doing a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. The same factors that contributed to my growth at Briercrest also contributed to my growth at Regent. I was blessed with some excellent professors who were willing to spent time with me and answer my many questions. The Lord also surrounded me with loving friends and mentors who sharpened me and encouraged me. Another significant factor in my growth was having a church family. When I was attending Briercrest, I never found a church home and I did not want that to happen again. To my surprise, I discovered what would be my church-home my very first weekend in Vancouver! I learned so much about the Body of Christ by being part of that fellowship and I was privileged to be involved in many different ministries within the church.
In the fall of 2004, I travelled down to a distant land known as “Ohio” to complete my college internship. My uncle was the pastor of a small church and I thought it would be a good experience to work with him for a few months. To my surprise, it was during my internship that I met my wonderful wife, Stephane. While in Ohio, we started a friendship that lasted for over 2 years before it finally turned into a dating relationship and eventually, a marriage relationship. We have been married for over two years now and these have been the happiest days of my life. On August 25th, 2010 the size of our family doubled as Elizabeth Dawn Grace and Anna Joy Ruth were brought into the world. What a joy it has been for Stephane and I to care for these precious little girls and we are excited for the years ahead.
I took over for my uncle at Hope Church following my graduation from Regent at the end of April 2008. Pastoral ministry has not been without its difficulties, but it has also been incredibly rewarding. I have learned so much and continue to learn new things each day. Praise God for what He has done in my life!