Why Do I Use a Pseudonym?

By David Servant

Over the past 20 years, most Christian folks who know me as “David Servant” suspect that is not my actual name. (Although some have remarked, “Wow, what a great name to have and be called to ministry!”) When I selected “David Servant” as my pseudonym, I hoped that most Christians would realize it was an obvious pseudonym, and that they would also assume there is some good reason for it. And there is, of course.

Quite a few years ago, I began working in what are often referred to as “restricted nations.” Those are places where Christians face persecution that is sometimes severe. For example, I was traveling behind the Iron Curtain before it fell—into nations like Romania, Hungary and Poland.

I was sneaking into East Germany (a nation that no longer exists) illegally to teach at an underground Bible School near the Baltic Sea.

I was working in Myanmar when it was controlled by a military Junta (that again has taken control).

I was teaching in underground pastors’ conferences in communist China and Vietnam and publishing books in both of those countries.

I was also teaching in communist Cuba and secretly distributing books to thousands of pastors there.

And I was doing some risky ministry in Islamic nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan. I have been to the Khyber Pass between those two countries to distribute books and teach at an underground pastors’ gathering. I dressed like a Pashtun man and was forbidden by my host to speak publicly in English. I asked him what would happen if they discovered I was American. He told me they would kill me and dance around my body!

And all of that, of course, is the reason I adopted a pseudonym. To get into those kinds of nations, you have to first get permission from the governments in advance in the form of a visa stamped in your passport. And when you apply for a visa these days, they Google your name to see if they can find any reason to deny you entrance into their country. So, when those governments Google the name in my passport (which is my actual name), they don’t discover that I lead a Christian ministry and consequently deny my visa.

Over the past 20 years, a number of other Heaven’s Family staff members have also adopted pseudonyms because they travel at times to restricted nations. These days, I’m not quite as worried about protecting my actual name, because I’m 65 and not traveling internationally near as much as when I was younger. But still, on occasion, my pseudonym serves me well to accomplish what might otherwise not be accomplished. Earlier this year I spent time in a restricted nation.

I hope that helps dispel some rumors. I don’t have anything to hide…except from the devil!