Meet an Alumnus

October 09, 2011

Rev. David Riddell (MAR '83, MDiv '84), International Director of World Team.

David and his wife Becky joined World Team in 1985 while David was pursuing his degree at Westminster Theological Seminary. After David was ordained in the Bible Fellowship Church denomination, he and Becky left in 1988 to serve as church planters in France. In 1995, David became France Field Director and initiated a strategy to encourage and support the start up of 50 new church plants over the next 20 years.

In 2005 David assumed the responsibilities of Europe Area Director and focused the region’s vision toward encouraging, stimulating and supporting at least three church multiplication movements across Europe.  In 2008, he was appointed as World Team’s International Director.

"Westminster exposed me to a much larger work than I was used to by providing the opportunity to interact with students from other cultures as well as the opportunity to pursue a study trip abroad to France with Dr. Edmund Clowney."

Why did you decided to go to France?
My wife and I came to Westminster with no real idea of where the Lord might be calling us to serve.  We knew that God had led us to Westminster, but as far as the future, we were really unclear.  My wife is a French teacher and we naturally had a love for France and the culture. However, we had never thought of going there as cross cultural workers.  When the opportunity came up to go to France with Dr. Clowney, we thought it was a great way for us to visit France once again.  We were the only couple to go on the trip, and so we were consistently housed with French Christian families or missionaries.  Over and over again we heard of the spiritual needs of France from these different groups of people. The Lord used that trip to work on both our hearts and set us towards serving Him in France.

You said Ed Clowney was formative in your decision; were there any other Westminster faculty that stand out from your time here?
The two other profs that greatly influenced me were Sinclair Ferguson and Harvie Conn.  Dr. Ferguson conveyed in so many ways the foundational nature of grace in the life of the believer, and that has been an anchor for me in so many situations that we have faced overseas.  Dr. Conn conveyed that vast perspective of the Gospel penetrating other cultures, and the great need for the Gospel to go to the ends of the earth.  Both of them had ‘open doors’ and there were many days that I sat and talked with them in their offices, grateful for their willingness to invest in me.
What have you learned on the mission field that you couldn't learn in a classroom?
That’s a tough question.  I would have to say, it’s the simple fact of how to live and work in another culture.  Westminster gave me the needed ‘tools’ to engage in missions, but living and working in another culture is a whole different world than just talking about issues such as cross cultural stress or contextualization.
What advice could you give to a WTS student considering missionary work?

  • Learn about another culture by either visiting another culture or dialoguing with people from another culture who live in your city.
  • Use some of your Westminster work to research issues that have application to other cultures than just the North American culture.
  • Take electives that have to do with mission issues (in my time at WTS, there was a course on Unreached Peoples)
  • Befriend Westminster students from other cultures.
  • Get involved in spiritual conversations with others, discipling those who come to Christ, and working to start new communities of believers. 

These are some of the core concepts or elements of missions.
How has God grown you in the grace and knowledge of Christ since your time at WTS?
That is a question worthy of a paper for a Westminster course!  Let me say that God has shown me, and continues to show me every day, that it is all by grace.  We live and work not because of our good training or abilities, but totally by His gospel at work every day in our lives as we grab hold again of His forgiveness and righteousness.  The idea of being ‘united with Christ’ that Dr Ferguson spoke of so often has become more and more precious over the years.