Nathan Washer works as a project manager in the enrollment division at BJU, helping Bobby Wood, chief enrollment officer, accomplish his vision one step at a time.
But Washer’s path to working for the University (he began his career here three years ago) starts across the world from Greenville, South Carolina. Washer was born into a family of missionaries. His parents, paternal and maternal grandparents and his paternal great-grandfather all proclaimed Jesus’ name in Africa, beginning in the first decade of the 20th century.
Washer, observing the mission field firsthand since he was 7 years old, originally decided he wanted to do anything but stay on the mission field when he grew up. “I wanted the comfortable house and the comfortable car and the comfortable paycheck and all those things that I’d seen my parents do without,” Washer said.
His perspective changed shortly after one of his Zambian friends was bitten by a dog and began to die from rabies. In the hospital, this friend gave him goodbye messages to relay to others and repeatedly exhorted Washer to preach the Word.
“I realized he had his values in the right spot,” Washer said. “He knew he was dying. And I had mine in the wrong spot.” Washer said a week later, he reluctantly surrendered to God. Soon, God transformed his reluctance into excitement for the mission field.
“I put God first,” Washer said. “I delighted in Him, and He turned around and gave me the desire to go back and be a missionary and get involved.” As preparation for becoming a missionary, Washer studied camp ministries at BJU.
While at the University, Washer worked for a roofing company run by Mark Zimmer, a missionary now serving in Yap. During this time, Zimmer asked Washer whether he was available one Saturday, and Washer, assuming they’d be doing some work, said yes. Zimmer then said that they’d go up to the mountains together with Zimmer’s sister, Rachel.
“He didn’t ask me,” Washer said. “He told me.” After that first date, Washer and Rachel continued seeing each other, eventually getting engaged at Victoria Falls in Zambia.
After getting married and raising support, Washer returned to the mission field for 13 years, working on church plants and getting involved in a Bible college administratively. Washer said his initial plan was to remain in Africa and send his five sons back to the States for college, but he said God made it very clear it was time to move locations.
“God has led me on some unexpected twists in life,” Washer said. “Coming off the mission field wasn’t my plan.” Washer became the personal assistant to Dr. Steve Pettit, university president. After a year in that position, Washer shifted to work for enrollment.
Washer said his job is to map out and manage the details and processes that bring Wood’s ideas to life. “When he’s successful, I’m successful,” Washer said.
Washer said he believes God gifted him as a helper rather than a visionary. “I’m the guy who helps the visionary get it done,” Washer said.