They weren’t missionaries. They had very little overseas experience. They weren’t international. In fact, they were about as American as you can get – a family from the Midwest with three little girls. So why were they living at an intercultural center in New Haven, Connecticut, with Christians from Tanzania, Indonesia, Myanmar, and India?
As Prof. Dan Doriani explains, “I had a sabbatical from January to May 1995 and decided to return to New Haven and to Yale, where I did the bulk of my PhD research, so that I could write a book and introduce my daughters to Connecticut. We applied to OMSC on a lark…we were delighted when we were accepted.”
OMSC’s location within walking distance of the Yale Divinity School and its resources was ideal for Dan’s research on hermeneutics. The apartment on OMSC’s campus also proved to be ideal for his family. His wife, Debbie, and daughters Abby, Sarah, and Beth, quickly became friends with their international neighbors as they served as “experts” and explainers of American culture. Having arrived in the winter months, they delighted in watching their new friends discover snow for the first time.
In reflecting on his sabbatical at OMSC Dan commented, “My family and I had a great experience at OMSC even though we didn’t really belong there.” Although Dan and his family did not “fit the profile” as missionaries, the book he completed as a result of his sabbatical (Getting the message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible) has served as a textbook for many seminaries and Christian colleges. Perhaps more importantly, time spent at OMSC was one of several catalysts that led Dan to become more involved in missions himself. He now takes trips nearly every year, including a recent trip to Singapore.
Through shared meals, conversations, and attendance at community worship and lectures, this Midwestern American family became an integral part of a diverse, international, missionary community continuing through their own mission trips today.