From multimedia presentations to children’s storybooks, Don Regier creatively illustrates biblical and theological truth. In his more than 30 years at the Seminary, Don has passed along his gift, helping over one thousand students learn to use visual communications and storytelling to enhance their own ministry presentations.
“Strong content is the main reason people preparing for ministry choose to come to DTS,” Don said, “but I’m here to convince them that their presentations matter too.”
He equates visuals and stories to the wrapping on a gift, even using four gifts to illustrate his point in class. One is an unwrapped gift with sale stickers all over it and marked down prices—it’s practical but maybe not appreciated by the person receiving it. The second is a gift wrapped in used and worn-out paper. The third is a professionally wrapped gift—it’s beautiful, but looks just like every other professionally wrapped gift. And the fourth is his favorite—a gift that was wrapped by his 5-year-old daughter, Helene. The paper was hand-decorated and custom-made just for him.
And as far as technology, Don’s presentation philosophy is adopted from Lewis Sperry Chafer’s famous saying from 1928: “We have fearlessly adopted some 1928 methods of communication. We are not modernists in material, though we certainly are in method.”
“When you’re communicating the Bible and theology, the content doesn’t change,” Don said. “But by creating a unique presentation you are saying that you are so excited about the content that you took the time to wrap it just for your audience.”
As the son of a Mennonite pastor, Don didn’t grow up recognizing the importance of visual communication in ministry. He had an artistic flair, but never dreamed his art could be used for the Lord. “I thought it was only good for drawing pictures in my notebooks in school.”
Don hoped to follow his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. “He always said there is no higher calling than to stand behind the sacred desk.” And Don bought into it, even though he felt he lacked pastoral gifts.
He began seminary in 1965, and one of the first things he heard about on campus was an evangelistic outreach to inner-city Dallas called Open Air Campaigners. The group ministered in the projects by drawing pictures on a paper tablet while telling Bible stories.
“That was the first time I realized I could use my art for the Lord.”
Then, as a Christian Education major, Don had classes with Dr. Howard Hendricks, whose love for creativity inspired Don. Frequently Dr. Hendricks would allow students to do some sort of creative project instead of writing papers, so Don drew. One day, in the middle of class, while talking about a creative publication, Dr. Hendricks said, “Regier, you ought to do something like that.”
When he graduated, he began working part time in the Audiovisual department, which had just been created the previous year. Now he is the head of the department and teaches audiovisual communication.
About 10 years ago, Don and his wife Jan began looking into adopting a child from China. They already had four grown children, the youngest of which is currently a student at DTS. “Jan kept saying that four kids weren’t enough.”
They had some contacts through a Chinese student at the seminary, and decided to adopt a little girl who lived in an orphanage and who had almost died because of a bacterial infection that began with a diaper rash. They named their new daughter Hannah.
Then a year later, the Regiers found out about another girl at the same orphanage who had two holes in her heart and wouldn’t be adopted.
Within five months after her adoption, Helene had surgery to repair her heart at Children’s Medical Center here in Dallas. In a miracle that can only be attributed to the Lord, “one of the world’s unwanted, abandoned babies was operated on by one of the world’s great doctors.”
Helene says, “I used to have a hole in my heart, but now I have a whole heart.” And she sings the song, “With my whole heart, Lord let me love you with my whole heart.”
These stories have given Don many ideas for children’s books, one of which is set to be distributed in the next few months. It’s called The Long Ride and tells the story of the long trip two young girls took in search of a family. When you turn it over, though, and read it from the other direction, the story tells of the long trip a family takes to find the girls. Don relates this to our spiritual search for God, in which He finds us.