Drew Williquette, Children's Pastor at First Baptist Church (Glen Este, OH)
I look back at the last few months in awe of where God has taken us.
It was just a few months ago that I was a senior at Bob Jones University. I was working on finishing a degree in Bible and trying to prepare for whatever was after college.
On top of that, I was planning to get married, serving in a local church and in a student leadership position on campus. I was completely overwhelmed but excited at the same time. I knew I would be walking across the graduation stage soon and taking the next step into the future. What I knew then but didn’t always see was that God was preparing me through everything I was doing at BJU for what I’m doing today.
Every major experience I was involved in during my time at BJU—whether it was society sports, leadership positions on campus, dorm relationships, or church involvement—were all crucial in shaping me to do everything that I do now.
So, what do I do now and how do those experiences shaped me?
Simply put, the mindset which was formed while attending BJU has shaped my ministry perspective in so many ways. The emphasis that was put on hard work, perseverance, and most importantly a careful understanding of what the Bible says and how to live it out are things that I learned the most clearly during my time at Bob Jones that I’ll take with me forever.
I learned these and these taught me. I understood these because they were taught to me in classrooms, and I understood these because they were ingrained to me through experiences during my four years of college. Although it was extremely difficult at times, I wouldn’t trade any of it.
Today I have the privilege of serving as children’s pastor at First Baptist Church of Glen Este, Ohio. It has been an incredible journey of God’s grace in bringing my wife and I here and giving us an opportunity to serve parents and 3 to 12-year-old kids. We spend most of our days now planning activities for kids, prepping Sunday school or junior church lessons, holding meetings with our children’s ministry workers, and communicating the direction of our children’s ministry to parents.
Again, it is all the Lord’s working through those situations so glory to Him, but I can’t help but be very thankful for my time in school and how God used every situation to shape my life and prepare me for my calling into full-time ministry.
My challenge to you—freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and even seniors—is to never give up. We should always be growing, always be learning and looking for ways to improve for the glory of God and to be used by Him in whatever way possible. Never give up! Persevere through the difficult times in college because there will be blessings down the road, but also remember that we’ll never “arrive” until we get to heaven.
Just because I have had the opportunity to go through college and now get to serve God in full-time ministry at a local church does not mean I have arrived. It just means I need to work even more to learn and grow in this position that God has given to me. He has given this position to me as a steward for His glory and learn how to better serve Him and others.
What a privilege!
One thing that drives me is to remember that whatever I do and whatever happens, I must do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”. It is this verse that drives me in ministry, and it should drive every Christian as they seek to find and do the will of God for their lives—as they seek to do what God has specifically given them to do.
Drew Williquette is the children’s pastor at First Baptist Church of Glen Este, Ohio. He has served in this capacity since June of 2019. He and his wife Jenna love serving the parents and children at First Baptist. You can read about their children’s ministry through the blog “Kids Korner” at http://fbcge.org/kids-korner/.
Garrett Martin, Seminary Student
I remember during my sophomore year of college God started to give me an explosive amount of clarity about how paramount he is and what he does in determining who I am and what I do. He is the ultimate driving force—not just for the general direction of my life or a few isolated priorities but for everything. I saw Christ as preeminent and his glory as my goal. The means to accomplish this goal is my joining in his mission of reconciling the world through the gospel.
I’m sure all genuine believers know this feeling of boiling inside with passion to serve an infinitely glorious God. But the frustration that sometimes follows is questioning what to do with all of that God-inspired, glory-invigorated passion.
What does God want me to do? Not just in vague terms (i.e. “share the gospel,” “disciple people,” “glorify God,” etc.). How does God want to use my gifting, my background, my opportunities? Which gifts should I be developing? What opportunities should I aim for? What does it look like for my everything to be used for his glory?
Essentially, I needed a vision. I knew God’s mission, and I knew my general purpose in life. But I didn’t know what it looked like.
One of the greatest helps in shaping my vision has been going on a city team, and I discovered that my situation was actually one of the primary reasons city teams exist.
What is a city team? City team is an initiative that began two years ago, which consists of student-led groups that connect with local churches in the USA for potential long-term ministry. City teams help students build relationship and practical bridges with local church ministries before they graduate. These teams are open to ministry-minded students from any major because the goal is to match their major with ministry significance in a specific context.
The details of the team are determined by the make up of students—their interests, gifts, etc. For example, I led a team to Denver with four other students who were studying engineering, church music, graphic design, and international studies. Because one student was wondering how she could use her passion and background of non-profit work for the glory of God, we were able to volunteer with different nonprofit ministries through the local churches in Denver. The aspiring graphic designer on our team had multiple meetings with church administrators and leaders to see the various needs of graphic design in their church. The church music major was able to meet with different music pastors in Denver. As a whole, the team was able to spend the two weeks surrounded by church members and meeting with dozens of pastors.
These are the questions that we repeatedly asked in almost every meeting as we served side-by-side with other Christians, drank coffee together, or sat across the kitchen table:
“How did God lead you here?”
“What is your vision for the gospel in Denver?”
“What are some of the most exciting and difficult things about serving here?”
“How should we be preparing while in college?
It was eye-opening to say the least. One of the joys is that these experiences not only provided a tangible vision of how to serve God with our lives, but it also simultaneously amplified our passion to serve Him.
Throughout the rest of my time in college, I found that I was often being pushed forward in my studies by looking back on these experiences. It became my aim; it was the tangible goal and need that I saw with my own eyes and heard across the table as pastors shared their burdens and vision. I’m gratefully surprised with how much those conversations have marked and motivated me. I’m further encouraged as I see students, through these teams, expressing an intensified desire to serve God and some even immediately moving after graduation to be a part of the local church that they first encountered through their city team. This typically doesn’t just happen unless there is an established relationship and a solid conviction that “God can use me there.”
Through these teams, God is spreading a vision for his mission in the church. My guess is that the large majority of students who will read this want more of that vision. So, of course, my suggestion for you is to join a city team. The teams are flexible, inexpensive, and life-altering.
I’ve shifted from a member of these teams to an advocate for them. So if you see the value and God is moving you to consider joining one, please let me know. I’d be happy to connect you with the various city teams that are being planned for this upcoming summer. We’ve had teams go to NYC; Lincoln, Nebraska; Boston; Detroit; Denver; Salt Lake City and Seattle. This year we are expecting seven more teams, some going to the previously mentioned cities and some going to new areas like Chicago, D.C., and Portland.
Please do not exercise aimlessly. God is real, and there are real people who need Him—and by extension, need you. Prepare yourself for them. Give your passion a vision.
Daniel Smitley, Senior Cross-Cultural Major
I'm sitting in a very small apartment living room, jam-packed with about 25 people for a Sunday evening service in the city of Manila, Philippines. I've never been to this church before, and I am enjoying being able to meet and worship with them. Then the missionary hands me his phone with these words written, “Can you preach?" In less than five minutes, with basically no time to prepare, I was up preaching. I wish I could say this experience was the exception to the rule, but I learned to always be prepared for anything. In fact, when people usually think of missions or internships, these kinds of experiences are the reason they go. The purpose is to minister to others and to gain the experience of teaching, preaching, and jumping into any ministry you can. While I enjoyed many of these kinds of experiences, the greatest blessing I received was not the ministry I was able to have, but the ministry that I saw and personally experienced from those on the field.
While interning in the Philippines this summer, I was able to experience an up-close look into the life of a missionary. I was privileged to learn from and be mentored by a man deeply devoted to his ministry. But to me, what might have been the most influential part of his ministry was his personal life. His walk with the Lord and love for His Word was evident and personally convicting. It was also clear that his “ministry” was not separate from other areas of his life. A major part of his ministry is teaching Bible classes at a Bible college. He himself practiced what he taught in the classroom. The truths he was teaching were clearly being played out in various areas of his life. It’s so easy to act one way while you’re ministering in church or at a Bible club but live differently at home or around family. The missionary I was with exemplified what it looks like to live the same way both in ministry and in family/personal life. Sure, I went as an intern seeking to be able to minister and be a blessing, but I believe it was me who received the greater blessing!
During my internship I was also able to spend some time with local pastors, both in the Philippines and in Singapore. During my time with them I was able to preach in their churches, sing special music, work around the church buildings, and lead Bible studies. But by far the most memorable experience I had with them was observing their ministry and not my own. With one particular pastor in the Philippines, his love for people was obvious. Ministry was not just on Sunday for this man—it was every day! One evening, he traveled out to another city to meet with two separate groups and lead Bible studies, and he even made another stop just to pray with a church member whose relative had cancer. This made for a very late night, but if there was an opportunity for the Gospel and ministry, he took it. He was always looking for a chance to share the Good News, even while in the local hospital waiting room or on a dirt road on the side of a mountain buying fruits. Another big influence was a pastor in Singapore. The church he was pastoring was a joy to worship with. It was neat being able to see how this body of believers applied the biblical role of the church into their specific context and culture. But his ministry wasn’t just limited to a couple days of the week either. I was thrilled to be able to see other aspects of his ministry, whether that was visiting with church members who had recently lost a loved one or taking a day off to bring the teens to a Bible seminar. Being able to talk about ministry and gain wisdom from a faithful man of God was great in shaping my own philosophy of ministry! Too often I see ministry as an event, such as singing in the choir or leading a Bible club. But what these men displayed was that ministry is people, and that should be happening all the time, not just at church. Again, I got the better end of this deal—the encouragement I received far outweighed anything I could have given!
Lastly, I had the awesome opportunity to live in the dorms of a Bible college for most of the summer. This meant I was able get to know and build good relationships with many of the students. As I grew to know them more, their testimonies and desire for ministry were inspiring and rebuking to my own life. As college students, it’s easy to focus on training now, ministry later. Maybe you’ve caught yourself saying, “I’ll start ministering after I graduate!” This is folly, and I was shown this by many of the students who were not waiting to minister. A number of the guys would travel for hours each weekend in order to preach in various churches. Other students would travel eight hours every other week in order to help with the music at their home church. But the weekend is to rest and get recharged! No, not for many of them. They had a chance to minister, and they took it. It was an encouragement to see many who were really on fire for the Lord’s work. This is something I hope I brought home with me!
Traveling and doing missions overseas is an awesome opportunity. The need for the Gospel is great, and many still need to hear it! The ministry possibilities in these places are almost endless as well. There will always be a Bible study to lead, a sermon to preach, or a kid’s club to help with. When we go on such a trip, we should most definitely jump into ministry and service. But the next time you get the opportunity to go minister overseas, don’t get so caught up in what you’re doing and miss the blessing and wisdom around you. Take a step back and learn from those who are there, and you may be surprised at the wisdom and help you will receive. But don’t take my word for it, go experience it for yourself!
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.