A missionary’s journey to “professor”
Ryan Gimple’s journey to becoming a Charleston Southern University professor is anything but simple.
Gimple was born in midwest Topeka, Kansas. Two states over, he began college at Wheaton, outside of Chicago, and spent the next six to seven years of his life there. Gimple married his wife in their last year of college in 1994. They remained at Wheaton for graduate school.
After graduation, they made the trek to the other side of the world. “The Lord took us to serve in Asia, and we were there for 19 years. I really didn’t have plans to leave there,” Gimple said. Yet, doors of opportunity began to open for their family to move back to the States.
Gimple shared the two major motivators in leading him to his role at Charleston Southern.
“I really enjoyed my time in college myself. I had a professor that had a great influence on me,” he said. “I remember when I graduated, I didn’t want to graduate and leave.”
He also sought certification in leading an accredited class on cross-culture evangelism in Asia. When his supervisor asked for his resume, Gimple said, “They saw I only had a master of arts and said ‘you aren’t qualified for this.’”
So, from 2012-2013, Gimple was completing schoolwork and missionary work at the same time in order to be qualified. He was focused on his life in Asia, doing missionary work, when his mentor at Southeastern referred him to some faculty members at Charleston Southern. As he approached the completion of his degree, Gimple soon received an email invitation from CSU to teach.
“It was a challenging thought because I was called to be in Asia, but things looked like the Lord was preparing me for this transition,” said Gimple.
The process of moving back to America started in April 2016. With no car and no house, the couple moved to Charleston from Asia that July with only their belongings in suitcases.
Gimple reflected on how the Charleston Southern family welcomed his family with open arms and generosity, such as when Dr. Pete Link loaned the Gimples his family minivan for “longer than he probably wanted to. He said, “That helped us so we could get settled here.”
Teaching at Charleston Southern has strengthened Gimple’s faith through his colleagues and his students.
“It’s a big responsibility to teach what the Bible is teaching. I have to do it depending on God,” Gimple stated.
As a professor in the classroom, the biggest highlight for Gimple has been in his New Testament/Old Testament survey classes. He has also worked alongside Northwood Baptist Church and Church at Cane Bay (in partnership with Iglesia Evangelica Aposento Alto) teaching English as a second language to people who have moved into the area.
Now an assistant professor of Christian studies, he did admit that there are struggles being a college professor in teaching Christian studies. During his first year of teaching World Religion, there was a student who had a different religion which gave her a unique perspective in class.
Gimple explained, “I didn’t know anything about her religion, so I began researching and found two other people who had the same background. I did some interviews with them, and they opened up, telling me about their past. So, I ended up adding a unit to the course on her religion and approached it in a way that was generous and modeling how you learn and understand people from other faiths and still hold on to Jesus as the truth. By facing that challenge, it led me to growth.”
In the classroom, Gimple shows Christ-centered love for his students through his acts of patience and consideration. Outside of CSU, he currently serves as a Church Elder at Cane Bay Church and volunteers through his church, teaching English as a second language together with his wife Cheryl.
Isabel Kay is a freshman English education and communication major at Charleston Southern University and is an intern in the Office of Marketing & Communication.