Tomorrow morning I have my interview for the ministry program I've applied to at George Fox University. So as I think and prep and pray, I thought tonight I'd share the essay I wrote and submitted in response to the following questions:
- What reflections do you have on the Mission Statement and Statement of Faith of the seminary?
- Relate your spiritual pilgrimage.
- Why are you seeking graduate theological education?
My first “real” job after college was a Children’s Ministry Director at a mid-size church in the town of Bellingham, WA. It wasn’t necessarily the career path I was intending, my degree in Public Administration was supposed to garner a government or non-profit job that would lead eventually to me running an organization. And yet, this Children’s Ministry job fell into my lap in a way that could only be explained as God’s provision for me and my family.
I’d been married for a year and had found myself in a position of needing a job to support my husband as he pursued his degree in recreation, with the ultimate goal of a career in camping ministry. I’d been a Christ follower all my life and while working an incredibly demanding summer job at a Christian day camp, I was praying fervently for God to open the next door for me. I didn’t have time to hunt through job boards and send out applications, so while I spent hours in ministry loving kids and leading staff, I told God He had better get me a job for the fall when my husband was due to start school.
And God provided and that job arrived, a job as a leader in a medium-sized church in a ministry I never anticipated. I wasn’t sure this was the right fit for me, and yet in what would become the first of a long-line of stories my life has told of God knowing better than me, it turns out this was the perfect job to refine my leadership skills and grow my passion for the local church’s call and ability to share hope with a hurting world. In my job I recruited and fired volunteers, I led huge programs and intimate trainings, I wrote curriculum and taught lessons, I supervised and contributed and researched and learned and questioned and prayed, oh how I learned to pray. I was frustrated at the “boys club” of the board and pastors that I couldn’t break into, and humbled by one pastor who became my advocate. I hugged kids and whispered to them of how precious they were and how much they were loved.
Three years later I left that job to become a stay at home parent and a support for my husband as he accepted his first career position as a camp program director, but I still continued to follow God as he opened doors to a variety of ministry opportunities including to camp staff members, mothers of young children at MOPS, children at church, and to struggling parents and broken children through the ministry of foster care.
When our youngest daughter was about 18 months old, God used a series of experiences and conversations to challenge us to take his call to love the orphan seriously, and we told Him yes. If I could sit down with you in a coffee shop I would tell you story after story about how it has been this ministry of foster care that has humbled me and challenged me and grown me in ways I never imagined and had never before experienced. I would tell you of how there was grace and peace in the letting go, of how God can work in miraculous and mighty ways, of how God carried me through a pain I never saw coming and thought I might not make it through. Of how he can use my hands and feet, and those of my husband and the sweet hugs and loving gestures of my own children to heal a small part of this hurting world.
Through the past few years of being a foster mom, I have realized I want more. More of this doing. More of this loving. More of this trusting in God and the story of redemption He is writing. My kids are getting older and I’m ready for something more. I don’t know what it is, but I know that the first step is investing time and energy (and yes, dollars) in learning. In taking a step to pursue a seminary education to grow further in faith and in knowledge, in leadership and communication skills, in continuing to discover and lean-in to the woman He created me to be.
George Fox appeals to me for many reasons, but particularly through the mission and statement of faith, I see that this seminary wants to be about educating leaders who will do the work of the Father. To develop men and women who will become agents of reconciliation in the world, who will work for peace and justice in relationships and structures. This is what I want to be about too.
While discussing my interest in George Fox with my husband he was pressing me for an answer as to what career path this degree will give me. Unfortunately, I just don’t have a clear answer right now. But I am so very excited and hopeful that God will use the classes and the faculty at George Fox to reveal and define His unique calling in my life. He has always been faithful to me and I believe following Him down this path He will only continue to prove this even more.