Share your Christian testimony and why you are seeking to enter ministry leadership.
Ministry always seemed like such a glowing word while I was in my teenage years and living at home. It was one of those words that was always attached to my sentences when someone would ask, “what do you see yourself doing when you graduate?” as I would respond with, “I can see myself going into ministry but I’m unsure of what that looks like”. I remember seeing eyes get big, facial expressions being extra, and I would always wonder why? Why are you responding that way. I graduated high school and from there I decided I would apply at Kuyper college and before I knew it, I was chasing my associates in Religious Education. From that point on the question I received shifted to, “What do you plan to do with this degree?” and I always said, “I am unsure but i’m sure that God has big plans”.
In 2007 my husband and I had this unfailing passion to pursue a non-profit for Young Adults Together Encountering Christ. This non profit was a branch off of Teens Encountering Christ however was only planted in Minnesota and Iowa and our goal was to build a committee and light the path to planting this in West Michigan. We had no idea what this would look like but we knew it started with several trips out to Iowa and learn what it would take to plant this here in West Michigan. While we were out there we saw this huge 18-30’s age group coming together and worshiping and serving all with a common goal and that is to love others and just give Jesus away in whatever capacity they were able to. I remember being astounded by their commitment levels and the amount they gave of themselves and thinking how will we ever measure up to this? By God’s grace we got the support of local pastors and church members and planted and ran the non profit till 2016 in West Michigan. This non profit taught us not only how to come together as a team in marriage within ministry but it taught me many critical things as an individual.
In 2015 I found myself at this Women’s Conference called “IF” It was founded by Jennie Allen, an author and Bible teacher in Austin Texas. She teaches and preaches worldwide and while I didn’t really know the reason behind me being at the conference that weekend I distinctly remember within the first 15 minutes of the first video shown I thought to myself, “I want to be just like her”. Everything that she would preach, with each sentence that passed I just felt myself from the tips of my toes yelling, “amen!”. At this conference I knew I wanted to take my ministry to a new level but I still just didn’t know what that looked like. They had this practice at the end of the conference and we had to write down what phrase or sentence we were going to take with us on a rock that we took home with us. I still have this rock staring me in the face each day as I pass by it sitting on the widow cil reminding me, “Being confident of this- what He started in me He is going to complete it!” The material for the IF conferences were available for purchase for the main purpose that you would purchase them and host these conferences at your local church that you’re attending. I got home from this conference and I got busy building a committee and we hosted our first IF:inSpirit in 2015. We did this conference again in 2016 and 2017 and that brought me to my next chapter.
In May of 2019 I got hired as the community ambassador at inSpirit church which has been our church home for the last 8 years. I’m nothing short of loving every area of the job and feeling not only stretched but also just another stepping stone into God carrying me further into the ministry he has for me. Through all of these areas of ministry I have had three encounters where someone looked me in the eyes and said, “I would not be surprised to see you as a pastor some day.” While I’ve always known in my heart of hearts maybe this was the direction for me I was very good at saying thank you and brushing it off and making no mention of it. I would say that is too expensive and I can not pursue my dream and raise kids simultaneously that would be next to impossible.
Everything came to a head in August of 2019 when I had a fourth and final person look at me and say, “Wow, I really wouldn’t be surprised if you would become a pastor some day”. I thought to myself, “ok Jess, what’s it going to take?” That following week my family and I were camping and one afternoon my dear husband said, “I would like you to read this devotion I read today”. As I began reading it and it started encouraging husbands to spur their wives on towards their God given dreams and gifts, tears started streaming down my face, as my husband quietly said, “I’m convicted and think its time, I have your back”. I began doing copious amounts of research with what it would it would look like to go back to school. I can tell you that I have full support of my local church and after a meeting with our pastor and the denomination we feel even more affirmed that this is the direction that God is laying out for me.
Let me end with how I began, “what do you plan to do with this degree?” The answer is the same yet goes deeper. “I don’t know but what I do know is that I am going because I love Jesus and I can only pray that because I love Jesus someone else will come to love Jesus and because that person loves Jesus more will come to know Jesus”
To God be all the glory.
How are you currently working to build authentic relationships with people who may serve as references or points of contact in your future career in ministry?
I would say aside from family this begins with Church staff, professors, and fellow classmates. I don’t take building relationships lightly and i’m excited to see what new relationships are built as I embark on this journey in 2020.