David Botha’s first love was the game of cricket. Now pastoring GCI churches in Akron and Cleveland, Ohio, David doesn’t have nearly as much opportunity to play.
David’s love for cricket developed while growing up in South Africa. “Though in my early years we moved around a lot, I grew up mostly around Johannesburg. My parents met at Ambassador College in Bricket Wood, England, so I grew up in the WCG. I spent most of my time focused on cricket and field hockey. I also loved watching game in the wild and often went on vacations to game parks. A highlight of my youth was attending SEP South Africa three times.”
After high school, David applied to attend Ambassador and initially was turned down. “So I attended Rand Afrikaans University, where I studied Mechanical Engineering for a year and a half, before being accepted to Ambassador in Big Sandy. I graduated there in 1996. While there, I met Lynne Emery; we married in 1996.” David and Lynne have two daughters, Margaret, 14, and Madeline, 12.
After college, David and Lynne moved to Oregon and got involved in the local church. Soon they felt a call to get more involved locally. “We left WCG in 2002 to attend an evangelical church that was closer to where we lived. We attended there until early in 2006, when we moved to Mississippi to serve as field missionaries with Forward Edge International. We facilitated short-term mission trips doing relief work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”
Based out of Moss Point, Mississippi, David coordinated and facilitated the work of teams in rebuilding homes and churches. During that time, David felt God moving him back toward GCI. “While in the mission field, we were supported by, among others, two GCI congregations then pastored by Glen Weber. Frequently he would ask me what our plans were for when we would leave the mission field in Mississippi. He wanted me to serve as a pastor in his district. This calling to pastoral ministry was confirmed in another confersation with Jeff Broadnax.”
David responded to this call and was hired into full-time ministry with GCI in 2008. “In November we moved to Akron, Ohio, where I now serve as senior pastor of the Akron and Cleveland congregations. We are now working diligently on a new church plant.”
Lynne is an integral part of David’s ministry “helping,” as she puts it, “in whatever way is needed—whenever and however that looks. It could be as simple as paperwork or babysitting, or as involved as moving to another state.” Lynne visits the sick and shut-ins, and she and David double-date on counseling sessions. She fills in to preach or to handle calls when David is out of town. Lynne said she “also runs interference when David’s overwhelmed, counsels those to whom he refers me, assists in the coordination/realization of events for missions or church, and facilitates mission teams. My first duties are to care for David personally, to spend inordinate amounts of time praying for him, to raise our children and to keep our home.”
When asked what he enjoys most about being a pastor David said, “Seeing people become the mature disciple that God has called them to be.” His most memorable moment was “getting to baptize my daughter.”
Talking about GCI, David said he loves “being part of a group that actually cares about others.” Ministry helps fill David’s passion of “seeing people grow in Christ.” Asked when he feels closest to God, David replied, “When I lean on him and he uses me, beyond my capabilities, to encourage others.”