Momentum – WWU Theology Student Mentoring Reports

Over the 2016/2017 school year there were 8 Walla Walla University students who participated in the Theology Student Mentoring Program. These are their stories:

Joel Barajas

Words cannot express how blessed I have been a part of the City Church family and learned from Pastor Mike Bamett. In the beginning of this journey, I was a bit hesitant in working with Pastor Mike because we have different personalities, but we have the same mission and that is to share Jesus to the people we come in contact with. Pastor Mike has started a high school ministry within the City Church, but it is with public school students that are not Adventist, which was perfect because I went to public school all my life. After meeting the youth, I noticed that our backgrounds were very different. They came from broken homes, parents in and out of jail, separated parents, and abused both physically and emotionally.

I had a difficult time with connecting to them, but God created me with the ability to share a laugh and a smile with broken people. With the gift of humor that God has given me, it didn’t take long for them to warm up to me, especially Tyler. Tyler is a high school super senior that has been searching for his identity in Christ and for a sense of purpose. He opened up to me and shared his past experience in school and his home life. Although they made me sick to my stomach because no one should have to go through the situations these kids have gone through, I was able to share with them of the Gospel of our soon returning Savior. I thought I was there to help the kids get closer to God, but they have shown me that even though we have different paths, we all have a Savior that is by our side through the bad and the good.

Being a part of three other ministries on campus and being invited to go preach around Washington, I had a difficult time connecting with the Adventist youth within the City Church because my Sabbaths have been hectic this year. Pastor Mike has given me opportunities to lead the youth Sabbath school and allowed me to preach for the congregation three times this year. I focused my sermons on the youth and encouraged them to stay in the church with my testimony, treat others with love, and be unashamed for what Jesus has done for them. I feel that God has truly worked through me during my time at City Church and I have received valuable information from Pastor Mike.


Matthew Cosaert

It takes some time to get to know a high-school student. Though I have known a certain student for a few years and even coached him in basketball, I did not really get to know him until this school year as a part of the Pastoral Mentorship Program. Over the year, I talked with him in groups, at school’s study hall, in Sabbath School, and at our Youth Group about many different things, but it took a while to have conversations about God. Eventually, however, the door began to open to talk about more spiritual mailers.

This door opened when he asked me a question one study hall period about demonic powers and whether I believed in them or not. In a trip as a child, he told me he had felt these powers but was not sure what to think of them. I assured him the Bible teaches that there are forces for evil and good in this world, the idea of the Great Controversy. Then I told him the forces for good (the side of Jesus) can always beat the forces of evil, if we let Jesus into our lives.

This conversation sparked an interest in spiritual matters that I believe was growing over the last few years. We began individual Bible studies where he has been able to bring his questions and we see what the Bible says about it. Not only this, but he has shared this new interest with his friends and we began a small group Bible study that meets once a week. From this experience, I learned that though it may seem to take a long time, God is working and planting a seed in every conversation we have.

Kris de Bruin

This year started off well. Pastor Eric and I had some solid plans in motion. Together, we visited members and non-members. I had the opportunity to observe Eric giving Bible studies, and lead people closer to Jesus on multiple occasions.

My involvement with the Junior class was good. It only started gaining real progress by late February. There were a few weekends during January and early February that church was cancelled because of the weather, and I also happened to fall very ill this winter, The Junior department switched over to a different set of lessons which helped the teachers to be more capable of teaching the classes. The “Dig in to the Life of Jesus” series has been a great resource, and has brought life back into the Junior class. This was exciting, because we could talk with the kids about relevant matters, that challenged and deepened their spiritual lives, and mine. One kid in my Junior class showed some encouraging potential. We had a talk once after class recently, in which we talked about his influence amongst his peers. After our talk, he seemed to have realized something that needed to change in his life. We prayed, and it is apparent that Jesus is working in his heart. This was a very recent occurrence; thus, it is hard to report on long term transformation. I’m still following his journey closely.

During the last week of the Fall quarter of 2016, I had the opportunity to lead out the week of prayer at Milton Stateline school. Unfortunately, this week was interrupted by bad weather conditions, and I was only able to visit the school on two occasions. The two opportunities that I had to engage with the kids were good, and their response to the message about Jesus’ grace in our lives, resonated well with them.

One of the most exciting weekends this year was on April 29th. Along with other members of the children’s ministries team, we developed a wonderful church Sabbath directly aimed at the children of our church. They were a part of the program, and it was a wonderful experience to see children excited about being a part of the church. The more kids can “buy in” to the church, the likelier they are to remain in the church — it becomes a part of who they are.

Pastor Eric was unavailable for large amounts of time this year, because of his daughter’s cancer. This made the year more challenging. I tried to step into multiple roles, and sought to be as active as I could be to provide comfort and spiritual leadership to the members. This was not an easy task with school and other jobs. However, the experience most definitely gave me a deeper respect for the work I’m entering. It also contributed to my excitement. Yet, because of Eric’s absence a lot of things went on hold, especially regarding our evangelistic efforts.

This year has been challenging, yet fulfilling. I enjoyed every part of it. Sharing in the emotions of different people, and having the opportunity to join them on their spiritual journeys, has been fulfilling. I will miss being a part of the Easigate church community. I made wonderflul friends there who have added to my perspective of ministry, and I will be indebted to them for it.

Austin Greer

Over the school year, I led Natalie through 11 of 27 studies in Ty Gibson’s Truthlink Bible study series. Natalie had a tough time growing up with some tragic circumstances, but she has been raised by a lovely couple, Walt and Naomi. Although they are not blood related, Natalie considers them to be her parents. Northside’s Bible worker, Lauren, and I have been meeting with Natalie on Monday nights and it has been a rewarding experience to articulate and contextualize doctrines with Natalie. It has been exciting to see her gradually open up to asking questions and engaging in the questions I posed. There have been a lot of laughs and good times, but something more rewarding happened during Winter Quarter. After overhearing our studies, Walt began joining us and he kept telling us that he really appreciated them. It has been heart-warming to see him study alongside Natalie. She still has quite a few Bible studies to go, but she is on her way to making a decision for baptism. She found peace and life in the Bible and is making a consistent effort to develop a relationship with God. Laruen is likely to finish the studies with her, but I look forward to picking up Monday night studies next school year.

I had intended to work with the Touchet church in building relationships with the Touchet community, but the dream was not able to come to fruition. I simply did not have any extra time to spare since the majority of my hours went to His Kids in Action.

On the bright side, the His Kids in Action program has made leaps and bounds this year. The program has been on the rocks the last two years, but we have had a revival of numbers and passion in staff and children. We used to get 4-7 kids a week and 2-4 staff, but by winter quarter of this year we jumped to an average of 16 kids and 8 staff; our participation doubled. on a handful of weeks, we got up to 21 kids. We also secured a core team made of members that would come every Saturday, except for one day off. Our team dynamic became a family dynamic and has been steadily drawing more students in. We gave each quarter a theme question: “What is the Bible”, then “Who is Jesus”, and ending with “How can I be like Jesus,” Seven-year-old Jasmine and Damien, shared that they come to His Kids in Action because they want to learn about Jesus. Despite all of the fun and food we offer, the kids have been most interested in learning about Jesus. We have seen a handful of kids from the group steadily become more patient, kind, and obedient as a result of this program that essentially mentors children in their walk with Jesus and each other.

Kisa McClosky

It was fall quarter and as Pastor Matt and I were having our weekly meeting, he brought the names of two individuals into our conversation. I came to discover that they were both young girls attending Rogers Adventist Elementary School wanting to get baptized. Pastor Matt asked me if I would be willing to hold Bible studies with them. I immediately said, “Yes,” but I blushed at realizing that I had never held or even attended Bible studies. I had been baptized; but even as a Theology major, I had never been to any Bible study other than Sabbath school and prayer meetings. After explaining this awkward bit of information, the pastor agreed to go with me for the first few times so that I could get a feel for how a Bible study would run.

A few months have gone by since our starting date, and now the two girls are done with Bible studies and they are ready for their baptisms! I am so excited for them! Holding the Bible studies with them was an educational experience for all three of us girls, and it allowed me to reanalyze some of my core beliefs and rediscover what baptism means. After the first few studies, Pastor Matt allowed me to do them on my own. I strived every week to make the studies as interactive and memorable as possible. Some of these techniques worked better than others did. However, in the end, the girls were able to remember most of the key points of Christianity and the reason why baptism is special. They learned that God is exciting and extremely involved in their lives. Their excitement about Him is contagious and I feel privileged to guide them through this experience. In the end, all of us learned a great deal about God and each other.

Stephen Jordan

My pastoral mentorship experience has allowed me to work heavily with the youth ministry at the Milton-Freewater Church. Pastor Nancy Canwell has started a weekly youth group called BLAST that is for middle school and high school students. One week we had two boys come to the group who were completely new. Their mom had apparently gone to the Church when she was growing up, but had since left. She wanted her boys to know about God and asked about a youth group — we told them about BLAST. These two boys, 10th grade and 7th grade, knew almost nothing about the Bible, so we asked if they were interested in Bible studies. They were very excited about that, so we began to study with them each week.

It was an exciting experience studying with people completely new to the stories of the Bible and the beliefs of Christianity. It was a great learning experience to use stories (which they liked the most) to help teach some of the doctrines, rather than just jumping all around the Bible with proof texts. The boys are both excited about being baptized (the older one will likely be ready sooner). Pastor Nancy used some of the youth group budget to buy the Bibles, and they are eagerly reading them.

I have had the chance to co-lead and lead these studies, and interact with them at the weekly BLAST meetings. It is unfortunate that I leave soon from the church, but I leave knowing that they have a good support group of peers that they can meet with each week and talk about God. I have had many great experience through my mentorship. I saw many changes in the lives of the youth, but the journey with these two boys has been the best highlight.

Enrique Vado

At the beginning of this internship, I was anxious to see how this year was going to develop. I had high expectations on how I was going to work side by side with my pastor. However, my pastor was moved a month before I started so an elder of the church became my mentor. At the beginning, it felt like I was by myself because the elder did not know much. The interesting part is that this problem became a blessing later on. I got to connect with the leaders of each church directly and was able to work with them in district events and preaching roles. There are three people I know that have been influenced by the Holy Spirit through my preaching and they are now receiving Bible studies. The other thing I focused most of my time on was planning and leading youth evening programs on Sabbath. Through these programs, I was able to connect with the youth of the church and encouraged them to grow a stronger relationship with God. There has definitely been a spiritual growth in our youth and I just pray for them to continue yearning to be closer to God. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to do this internship and I thank God for allowing me to grow the way I did.

David Werner

My pastor mentorship year with Pastor Dan has been enlightening and productive. Under his guidance I have learned much about patience, persistence, and prayer. During this past year we have worked together to revitalize the village church collegiate Sabbath school, encouraged others to make a decision for Christ and reached out to the community with the message of Jesus.

One of these instances was going along with Pastor Dan to give Bible and baptismal studies to 2 elementary students, I was able to observe Pastor Dan teach them about the love of Jesus and what it means to make a decision for him. Another such instance was helping pastor Dan encourage a recently baptized collegiate member who was to make some difficult life style choices. This young man is now a regular attender of Sabbath school and church. The most difficult and rewarding experience of this year was the production of Journey to the Cross. I was involved in the planning meetings, volunteer recruitment, and participating in the production itself. Through it all I watched Pastor Dan struggle with the frustrations of volunteer management and coordination. It was difficult, but thanks to Pastor Dan it was a success.

This year has been productive. I have learned a lot about youth ministry, community outreach, and a pastor’s personal life. Pastor Dan has been exemplary in his role as a Pastor Mentor. I am glad that we have accomplished so much.


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