My calling to serve kids and teenagers arrived when I myself was a young teenager. My dad became the youth pastor of a church in Corpus Christi in 2004, and I watched as he served day in and day out. As the youth pastor’s son, I was involved in everything related to youth ministry. When I neared college, other youth pastors in the area started asking if I felt called to follow in my dad’s footsteps. I was set, however, on helping children and teenagers through licensed counseling in a secular environment.

During a worship service at Windsor Park Baptist Church, the Holy Spirit told me, “This is the environment I want you to work in.” That same week, I met up with a friend who told me that he was attending Stark. He also felt called to Christian counseling and was pursuing that call through one of the SCS degree programs. After hearing about his experience at Stark, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me again, and I transferred to SCS. God’s confirmation could not have been any clearer.

When I first arrived Stark, I was surprised by how much I did not know. I practically lived at church, but each class taught me things I had never encountered before. There was a vast world of Christian thought, theology, and history of which I had no clue. This gap in my learning made me nervous and scared at first, but my professors encouraged me and walked alongside me through it all. I enjoyed the academic rigor and challenging discussions in the classroom. We discussed the truths of God and how to apply them to everyday life. During Introduction to Youth Ministry, God continued to ask me to use my call to counseling in youth ministry. 

That year, my friend (now-wife), Bianca, led me to my first official position of youth minister. Teenagers are crazy, but it was because of my studies at Stark that I felt equipped to accurately preach the Gospel and study God’s Word with the members of the youth group. And as a bonus, the education is transferable to other ministry areas. My time at SCS has even helped me in my music ministry. 

Now, as I finish the M.A. in Ministry program, I feel well prepared to address many of the new challenges facing the church today. Even though I am graduating, I know I will keep taking classes from time to time to stay on my toes. Stark has shown me there is always more to learn.

What has made my experience at Stark so rich is not only the classes but also the beautiful community of fellow ministers and co-laborers in Christ. I have made many friends and learned so much from their unique experiences. They have provided me with endless accountability, encouragement, and fellowship. It is truly a life-giving family. The president, the professors, the staff, and the students are all on the same team and have the same goal. They all work together to equip and encourage each other to do the Lord’s work in whatever capacity He has called them.