Don Engle

Alix and Don Engle
Alix and Don Engle

Don Engle, pastor of Grace Fellowship, GCI’s congregation in Wichita, Kansas, was born in Abilene, Kansas, famous for being the home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. “He lived a short walk from my mother’s childhood home, and as a young girl she was acquainted with Ike’s parents.” Don’s father died at the age of 24, leaving Don’s mother with three small children. “My mother remarried a year or so later and we moved to Big Sandy, Texas, to be near what we thought at the time was ‘the one true church.’ I attended Imperial School in Big Sandy for all twelve grades.” Don said he remembers many of the Ambassador College construction projects and often volunteered for work parties. “I especially remember helping to clear the land for Lake Loma. I do not remember a time when I was not a part of WCG/GCI.”

In 1968, Don applied to attend Ambassador College in Bricket Wood, England. “I loved the international flavor of that campus and thoroughly enjoyed my four years there. For some reason, I had a special affinity with the Brits. I traveled through many countries in Europe, including Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece.” Don said he was always interested in going into pastoral ministry but hadn’t been encouraged to do so in college. “Shortly before graduating in 1972, I was shocked to hear announced in a student assembly that I was being sent to be a ministerial assistant in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I have now been in pastoral ministry for over 40 years and have pastored churches in Louisiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, New Zealand, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas.”

At the beginning of Don’s junior year in college he met Alexandra. “Alix had just arrived on campus as a freshman from New Zealand. People often say love at first sight is nonsense. Not in my case! The moment I laid eyes on her I had a strange feeling that I may have encountered the love of my life. I was the second guy on campus to ask her for a date. How I remember that date! I was bragging about living on an 80-acre property when Alix quietly informed me that she had grown up on a 5,000-acre sheep and cattle station on the east coast of New Zealand. Although I grew up in Texas, the land of cattle drives, it wasn’t until a trip to New Zealand shortly after we were married that I was able to experience such a thing.”

Don and Alix recently celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary. “We have three amazing children: Jeannine, Chad and Jonathan. Jeannine attended Ambassador College in Big Sandy and is married to Nate who works for Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. They have five children: Jack, Alexa, Erica, Ahna and Emmy. Chad, who now lives in Thailand, also has lived in Iraq, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea. His children, Madyson, Sydney and Nikolae, live in Texas. Jonathan, an accomplished flutist, is the associate director for admissions for Mannes School of Music in New York City.”

Don said one of the most memorable moments of his ministry occurred while he and Alix were attending the ministerial refresher program in Pasadena, California, in 1979. “Joseph Tkach Sr. approached us one evening during dinner and told us, ‘You’re being transferred, guess where?’ I had a feeling it was not going to be a short distance away. I will never forget the look in my wife’s eyes. Four months later we were moving to New Zealand where we spent 10 of the best years of our lives.”

Don has always loved the fellowship he finds in GCI. “We have a special spiritual bond because of our unique journey. We have the dearest of friends who are truly like family to us—scattered across the globe though we may be. How we wish we could gather them all up and bring them within a close radius. Maybe one day that will be the reality. I also enjoy the fact that, as a denomination, we are willing to learn new things and continually refine our theology—to think outside the box a bit from time to time, without completely departing from orthodoxy. The truth about God and our existence is indeed a life-long quest.”

Though Don enjoys being a pastor, he still reflects on the discouragement he faced as we went through our denominational changes. “The only theology I knew came from growing up in WCG. My wife, however, was raised Presbyterian, spending seven years attending an Anglican boarding school, so the changes were much easier for her and she was a huge help to me as I struggled to understand. With her encouragement, in 1996 I attended a pastors’ conference at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Presenting were a number of internationally known evangelical authors and speakers, including Warren Wiersbe. I well remember him expressing concern for the many pastors in attendance who were considering quitting ministry. He implored us to think long and hard before making such a decision. It was as if God was speaking to me personally and it was a major turning point for me. I soon entered a Master’s degree program in Pastoral Ministry through Moody Seminary, which I completed in 2006.”

Alix is not only Don’s encourager, he says he would not be where he is today without her and likes to brag about her a bit. “Alix has an intriguing blend of no-nonsense and playfulness that is a perfect balance for my largely sanguine nature. Having her by my side through the years has been invaluable. She is always willing to help in any way that she can and often says her purpose in life is to make me look good! She has excellent computer skills and has, for many years, organized the PowerPoint presentations for our worship services. She also has great editorial skills and was an enormous help in my securing a second Master’s degree through Grace Communion Seminary, especially with the recent completion of my master’s thesis, “Peace When Facing Death.” We both have enormous appreciation for our time serving in pastoral ministry within WCG/GCI for all these years.”

Don says his passion stems from our understanding of Incarnational Trinitarian Theology. “My passion is helping people know that they are truly loved and accepted by God, no matter what their failings may be. There is a huge deficit in this area, even among those who have attended church all their lives. Recently, I completed a year’s residency at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, earning four units of Clinical Pastoral Education and presently, along with pastoring the Wichita, Kansas congregation, I am working part-time as the chaplain in the inpatient unit at Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice. I find it particularly fulfilling to work with patients and families as they experience end of life. It is such a potent time to reach people with a spirit of hope. Often this is when I feel God’s presence the most. After retiring from pastoral ministry in August 2015, I hope to work full-time as a hospice chaplain. I have a feeling my best years of ministry are still ahead.”

Don motorcyle

Don also enjoys guitars and motorcycles. “I love playing guitar and plan to spend a lot more time learning how to play well. My collection includes Fender, Gibson, Takamine and Ovation guitars. Just recently, with the help of my son Chad, I acquired a 2005 Triumph America motorcycle. I’ve been taking riding lessons and look forward to long rides on quiet country roads where I can enjoy the blessing and freedom of God and his creation.”

5 thoughts on “Don Engle”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Don! It’s been great getting to know you and Alix over the years. We especially enjoyed our times together at the conference in Florida. Dave and Hinka

  2. Howdy Don!

    Enjoyed reading this article on your life and ministry! I’m thankful that our paths have crossed a number of times over the years, including that deer hunting trip in the mountains of West Virginia, the Festival in Davenport, many conferences, and as a neighbor here in the Midwest. Now we have another common interest — riding the iron horse! Thank you for your faithfulness and service over many years, and congratulations on your academic achievements. May the Lord bless and guide your steps in the years ahead! Ray and Carol Meyer

  3. Thanks for sharing Don and especially for including so much about your wonderful wife Alix! The dialogue comparing your 80-acre U.S. property to Alix’s 5000-acre sheep and cattle station in New Zealand was delighful!

  4. Very upbeat bio like those two people themselves–reads true to life after knowing you both all these years–how shocking for a Texan to learn about the 5000 acre sheep ranch–a nice touch–! NE

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