‘Amazing journey,’ a platform to share Christ

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RUSSELLVILLE – You might find him photographing bison and moose in the Grand Tetons … or working with a team to save a life in an emergency room … or preaching at the Soul Food Café in Conway … or deciphering and transcribing ancient texts.

For Gerald Nash, these experiences have offered him “some amazing adventures. But the most amazing is my journey with the Lord,” he said.

Bible commentary writer for the Arkansas Baptist News, Nash attributes his many diverse interests “to the fact that I am a bookworm. I will read something that piques my interest, and it will stimulate me to read more, take a course and plan a trip.” Often by his side on his adventures is his wife, Mary Ann, who led him to make a profession of faith many years ago. “She is my companion in life and ministry,” Nash said.

A lifelong learner

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Educational opportunities through the years have honed his inquisitive spirit. “I have taken courses all over the world, but I always explain that I am a product of Southern Baptist education,” he said. His Southern Baptist education began with the Missouri Baptist Convention training him to be a Royal Ambassador (RA) counselor and director, and it continued with him taking Bible and missions courses through the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board).

While Nash was in college at Southeast Missouri State University, Thomas Messer, director of the Baptist Student Union there, became his mentor and convinced Nash to pursue a Bible degree and transfer to Southern Baptist College (now Williams Baptist University). From there, Nash enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). Through SWBTS Nash visited a Dead Sea Scroll exhibition, which “propelled my further manuscript work,” he said.

“All my Southern Baptist education prepared me to communicate the gospel to people of many different cultures … and help me to be on a mission for Jesus, wherever I am and whatever I am doing,” Nash said.

For Nash, education is an ongoing process. “As a lifelong learner, I am always taking a course,” adding, with a smile, “I have reached the age where I can now be a Senior Razorback.”

‘Shooting’ wildlife

Nash and his wife have developed an appreciation for nature and wildlife; together they enjoy photographing animals in the wild. “My wife is always trying to get the best pictures of wildlife,” he said, which, on one trip to the Grand Tetons, led her to inch dangerously close, in Nash’s opinion, to a huge bison. “After she took several pictures, she motioned for me to come to her. All I could think about was that 3,000-pound creature was going to charge and crush me,” he said. Yet, Nash wouldn’t mind taking a few risks of his own. “On my bucket list is to go down in a cage and feed sharks,” he admitted.

Working in medical field

Since 1975 Nash has worked in the medical field, where he said, “The most rewarding aspect of my work is saving lives and improving the quality of life of people. It sounds cliché, but it is true.” Nash works on an advanced life support and trauma team that responds when people are brought “clinically dead” to the emergency room. “It is amazing to watch as advanced life support methods are used, and a person’s heart starts beating again, and that person starts breathing again,” he said.

Hungry and homeless ministry

The Soul Food Café in Conway is a mission that ministers to the hungry and homeless. Each Tuesday, about 55 volunteers at the mission distribute food boxes, health and beauty aids and clothing to individuals. The mission also provides hot meals and haircuts. Nash preaches a short, encouraging sermon to volunteers before the community individuals begin to stream in. He also meets those who come into the mission and gives the plan of salvation. At the mission’s noon service, Nash rotates preaching duties with other pastors. “I have the privilege of leading people to Christ and baptizing them,” he said. Nash’s home church, Second Baptist Church, Conway, financially supports the mission, and the church’s men’s ministry collects food for the mission.

Deciphering, transcribing

Nash’s mentor, Messer, first piqued his interest in manuscript studies when Nash was a young man. Messer brought ancient manuscripts to the classroom and read to students in the original language. The Cairo Geniza is a collection of more than 350,000 Jewish manuscript fragments found stored in a synagogue Geniza in Old Cairo, Egypt. These tenth-13th-century documents were forgotten for almost a millennium. Written in various languages, particularly Hebrew and Aramaic, the fragments have now been digitized, and Nash meticulously helps decipher and transcribe them. “The survival of these documents is important today because of what they will teach us about the everyday medieval days of Jews, Christians and Muslims and their relationships. … Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, these documents have the potential to change history as we know and understand it,” Nash said.

Nash “thoroughly enjoys” the challenge of writing Bible commentaries for the ABN.

“Writing the lessons,” he said, “affords me the opportunity to use my skills as a theologian to help others understand the text and show its application for the Christian life. My goal is to align the commentary with the lesson theme, stay true to the text and for it to be useful for the teacher and class.”

He and his wife might also be found wielding chainsaws as they serve through disaster relief (DR). On one DR trip, Nash used his chainsaw to sculpt a chair out of a fallen tree for the homeowner. They also serve in vacation Bible school (VBS). In one VBS, Nash taught children how to do solar viewing through seven of his telescopes, outfitted with homemade solar filters. Nash also has been known to climb cliffs to photograph and study prehistoric rock carvings. The couple also serves on mission trips, including one medical mission trip to Armenia.

Such experiences reflect Nash’s servant spirit, believes Josh King, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Conway. “He (Nash) is a kind, godly man with a servant’s spirit. He is ready and willing to serve in behind-the-scenes ways and is a blessing to his church and pastor,” King said.

Nash’s is a life with varied interests and experiences, all with a common goal. “No matter what I get involved in, I try to use it as a platform to share about Christ,” Nash said.

Nash and his wife have two children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Contact Margaret Colson at margaret@arkansasbaptist.org.

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