A pastor who grew up as a missionary kid in Africa wrote about a trip he took with his brothers to the western edge of Zimbabwe. Among other events, they went whitewater rafting on the Zambezi River, the 2,200-mile river that—at one point in its journey to the Indian Ocean—includes the famous Victoria Falls. This pastor and his brothers planned to begin rafting at the base of Victoria Falls. The water from the falls rushes out in roaring torrents, creating the world’s largest rapids. In the United States, the highest class rapid you can legally raft is Class 5. The Zambezi’s whitewater rapids can reach Class 8.
This pastor recalled, “As we sat on the edge of the eight-person raft, all suited up in tight, overstuffed jackets and thick crash helmets, our guide instructed us, “When the raft flips over . . . ” Wait! He didn’t say, “If” but “When!” The instructor continued, “When the raft flips over, you will be tempted to swim toward the banks of the river—don’t! It’s in the calm, stagnant waters at the river’s edge where crocodiles are waiting. So, when your raft flips over and you are thrown into the rapids, stay in the rough water.”
As we now face an incredibly busy school year and, for many, a return to the fast pace of business life, let’s resist the longing for our lives to be all trouble-free and smooth sailing. Let’s remember that just as calm water stagnates, so it is that trouble-free lives can stunt our faith and stagnate our sense of dependency on the Lord.
Whitewater is part of God’s design for the believer’s development. Stagnant waters can be spiritually dangerous. While we might want to avoid the rough waters of tribulation, challenge and difficulty, whitewater is where character and perseverance are strengthened. Let’s resist the temptation to long for life and ministry that seems safe and calm . . . stagnant waters are where the deadly enemies are watching and waiting.
In his New Testament epistle, James writes, Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness/endurance (James 1:2-3). It isn’t a matter of if . . . but when.
Here at Shepherds Seminary, we’re training men and women to effectively board a raft and take off down Class 8 rapids. We’re preparing church leaders who understand that ministry can be rough – dangerous – uncomfortable – frightening. But the truth remains, while God never promised us smooth sailing—He did promise a safe landing . . . and His presence along the journey.
Riding the rapids of ministry,
Stephen Davey

About Stephen Davey

Stephen Davey, the son of missionary parents, was raised to love Christ and the gospel. In his last year of high school, Stephen committed his life to serve Christ vocationally wherever God chose to assign him in ministry.


Following graduation from Dallas Seminary in 1986, Stephen and his wife Marsha moved with their infant twin sons to Cary, North Carolina, to plant The Shepherd’s Church. Committed to the exposition of scripture, The Shepherd’s Church was soon self-supporting. In September of 2021, Stephen reached 35 years as the pastor/teacher of this wonderful ministry and church family (


In addition to his pastorate, Stephen serves as the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. Shepherds has earned full membership status with ATS and enjoys a growing student body, taught by an outstanding faculty. Shepherds currently meets on the beautiful campus of The Shepherd’s Church where Stephen enjoys interacting with the students, as well as teaching regularly in the pastoral theology department.


Stephen also serves as the principal Bible teacher for the Wisdom International radio and resource ministry heard globally in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Mandarin and Arabic. Wisdom’s website offers all of his sermon transcripts and audio teaching, free of charge (


More than 40 books, study guides, commentaries, and booklets have been authored by Stephen, published by Ambassador/Emerald House, Kress Biblical Resources, Charity House, and LOGOS. Stephen is scheduled to release a commentary on James in the New Testament Exposition Commentary series, published by Regular Baptist Press.