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Meet the Department: Brian Roberg

Posted by Brian Roberg at Mar 16, 2009 09:45 AM |

Welcome to the third installment of our "Meet the Department" series!  Following Jason's and Tom's leads, I'll tell the story of how I came to the Systems Department, providing lots of fun and nostalgic links along the way.

I gained a familiarity with computers at a young age.  My dad is a career employee for IBM, and we had a computer in our house going back as far as I can remember.  One of my favorite childhood memories is when my brother and I received an IBM PCjr as a Christmas gift.  (We were definitely not a Mac family!)  Besides playing Sierra adventure games, one of my favorite computer activities as a kid was programming in BASIC.   However, even though I enjoyed computers and seemed to have a natural proficiency with them, I never considered pursuing a computer-related career.

Other aspects of my childhood: I did very well in school, I loved baseball (especially the Mets), and I hated going to church (but my mom made me go).

I became a Christian in ninth grade when I discovered that the message I was hearing every week in Sunday School actually spoke directly to the greatest felt needs in my life: security and acceptance.  (Those can be hard to come by in the ninth grade social scene.)  I realized that Christ's death and resurrection meant that I didn't have to prove myself to the world (or to myself) by securing the regard of a pretty girl.  (That was the way I tended to measure myself.)  I relinquished the desire to achieve perfection on my own, and instead banked my life on Christ.

By the time I finished tenth grade, I'd seen the truth of the gospel affirmed in my life to such a degree that I decided I wanted to pursue a career that would help other people experience the same thing.  At the time I was thinking I wanted to become a pastor, but I tried to remain open to whatever opportunities might come.

I got involved in the DiscipleMakers fellowship at Gettysburg College right at the beginning of my freshman year.  I found there a group of students who lived out their faith in earnest, which I saw right away in the care they showed for me.  In particular, an upperclassman named Jared took the initiative to befriend me and help me along in my growth in the Lord.  I didn't know to attach the label to it until later, but this was my first experience of a personal ministry of discipleship.

Back to the computers for a minute.  Two things happened during the spring semester of my sophomore year: I added a Computer Science minor to my Philosophy major, and I discovered Linux.  My first distro was Red Hat 6.0, which sported kernel version 2.2.5.  I immediately became a Linux advocate and by the middle of my junior year I had moved to using Linux exclusively on my computer.  I enjoyed the freedom it granted me in tinkering and the feeling that limitless capability was only one or two configuration files away.  Still, I thought of computers only in terms of a hobby and not as a career path.

The two threads came together at DiscipleMakers' Fall Conference that year (1999).  It was there that Bill Dripps used Linux and open-source software as an illustration of how the Lord provides all kinds of opportunities to impact the world for Christ.  He described how DiscipleMakers intended to use these technologies not only to meet its own needs but also to bless other ministries.  A whole new vista opened to me as I saw the union of two hitherto distinct passions in my life.  Bill did an "altar call" of sorts for techies, inviting anyone interested to talk more with him.  I wasn't the only one to come forward eagerly.

I did a summer internship with DiscipleMakers between my junior and senior years (the very first summer internship DM ever conducted!)  By this time, DiscipleMakers' ministry--particularly Ben Hagerup's discipling me--had had a significant impact on my life.  Getting a closer view of DiscipleMakers' ministry through my internship convinced me that this is where I wanted to serve.  I joined DM upon my graduation in 2001, and joined the Systems Department upon reaching my financial support goal in February of 2002.

There's lots of stories I could tell about what's happened since then, but those are best left for another time.  Suffice it to say that I've found working in a largely technical job for an intensely personal ministry is a wonderful combination.  I am eager to see where the Lord will lead us next!

P.S. I can't neglect to mention the most significant recent event in my life: last October I married my wonderful wife Carin.  I see it as a shining example of God's goodness and faithfulness that He would bring us together!


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