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COLLEGE EDITION

MAGAZINE

Five years equals


two degrees
plus outstanding
opportunities.
Increase your job possibiliƟes in our new
educaƟon program
p4

No greater joy than being


uncle to african children.
InvesƟng in the lives of children YOUTH MINISTRY
p6
THAT breaks the mold
Residence director doesn’t p14

leave his work at the curb.


p9

Joya Johnston gets paid to do


what she loves.
p12

COLLEGE EDITION | ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2011 | WWW.BRIERCREST.CA


TABLE OF Briercrest College and Seminary is a community
of rigorous learning that calls students to seek
CONTENTS the kingdom of God, to be shaped profoundly by
18 university-level
the Scriptures, and to be formed spiritually and undergraduate degrees
Five years equals intellectually for lives of service.
two degrees plus and two certificates
outstanding opportunities. ACCREDITATION
p4 Briercrest College and Seminary offers university-level education
that is recognized by the province of Saskatchewan and accredited B.A. Biblical Studies
No greater joy than being
by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. A.A. Biblical Studies
uncle to African children.
p6
TRANSFER AGREEMENTS B.A. Theology
Residence director doesn’t Students who have completed a year or more at our college can B.A./BSE Education New
leave his work at the curb. transfer at least half of their courses to the University of Regina or B.A. Church and Culture
p9 the University of Saskatchewan to a maximum of 60 credit hours. B.A. Christian Ministry
Students moving on to Trinity Western University and the University
Joya Johnston gets paid to B.A. Applied Linguistics: TESOL
of Waterloo receive similar credit, and business students benefit
do what she loves. from our partnership with the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied A.A. Applied Linguistics: TESOL
p12 Science and Technology. B.A. Global Studies
Youth Ministry that breaks A.A. Global Studies
the mold. B.A. Worship Arts
p14
B.A. Music
A.A. Music
B.A. Youth Ministry
B.A. Humanities
FACILITIES ARTS OPPORTUNITIES A.A. Humanities
• Nine dorms • Student centre • College Singers • Orchestra A.A. Social Sciences
• Cafeteria • Ice arena • Resonant • Art show
• Hildebrand • Double-court • Refined/ B.A. Business Administration
Chapel gymnasium Undignified Discovery Certificate
• University-level • Fitness centre
library • Recording studio Kaléo Certificate

Call 1-800-667-5199 or email


Students who take a full five classes per admissions@briercrest.ca.
BRIERCREST MAGAZINE
semester can expect to pay just under
Editorial and Design Team
$8,000 per year.
Editorial Director | Rob Schellenberg,
rschellenberg@briercrest.ca
Copywriter, Editor | Julie Cole, jcole@briercrest.ca
Copy Editor | Carla Hoffmann, choffmann@briercrest.ca ANNUAL EVENTS VARSITY SPORTS TEAMS
Visit www.briercrest.ca to find
Writer | Amy Robertson, mrsamyrobertson@gmail.com
Graphic Designer | Valerie Benoit, vbenoit@briercrest.ca
• Christmas • The Briercrest • Men’s hockey (ACAC) The cost of room and board varies, depending on the meal out about partial scholarships
Photographers | Viktor Karklins, viktorkarklins@gmail.com,
Musical Olympics • Men’s and women’s volleyball (ACAC) plan you choose and whether you’d like to share a room or and bursaries.
Rob Schellenberg, rschellenberg@briercrest.ca, Julie Cole, • Youth Quake • Days of Prayer • Men’s and women’s basketball (ACAC) have one to yourself. Expect to pay between $3,000 and
jcole@briercrest.ca, Valerie Benoit, vbenoit@briercrest.ca • Brierstock • World • Men’s and women’s soccer (Club) $5,700 per year. Visit www.briercrest.ca for details.
• Camp Days Awareness Days
2 BRIERCREST MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION | ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2011 WWW.BRIERCREST.CA 3
5=2
• Deadline to apply for the first cohort of students is March 31, 2011. www.briercrest.ca/education
1-800-667-5199
• Classes begin at Briercrest in fall semester 2011.

• Students applying will require separate acceptance from both Briercrest and Minot State.

• Program duration is five years. The student’s first three years are spent at Briercrest and the second two at Minot State.

• Students may choose from five majors: elementary education or English, history, kinesiology, or music at the secondary school level.

• Some MSU courses may be programmed into the three years at Briercrest, and some Briercrest courses
may be programmed into the two years at MSU.

Five years equals two degrees plus


• Of the two years at MSU one will be fully “on campus.” The second year will include a four-month student teaching program.

• Graduates of the program receive two separate degrees—a BA from Briercrest and a BSE from Minot State.

outstanding opportunities. • For the most part, the costs associated with each degree program (BA and BSE) are normal to their home institution
and will be covered by the tuition payments.
By Julie Cole

T
hings are adding up in a big way for Briercrest and a BSE from Minot State, while In addition to the vocational about 14 months later. half year doing my practicum in school which school system and the church.
Briercrest College and Seminary experiencing the breadth and depth of our Nordquist is also enthusiastic about the is great because I love hands-on (learning).” This greatly increases job possibilities.
students who desire a degree in mission.” options open to graduates of partnership. Brian Gobbett, associate academic dean Christian elementary and secondary schools
education that also contains the Many Briercrest alumni have entered typical education programs, “Our agreement with Briercrest College of Briercrest, says the program has many have dramatically grown over the past two
distinctives of their Christian faith. education programs across the country. As will attract a lot of good students, students benefits. decades. For example, the Association of
a Briercrest-Minot State BA/
A partnership agreement between a result, the desire to find a way to offer an who are interested in becoming teachers. It’s “Agreements within higher education Christian Schools International has over 70
Briercrest College and Minot State University education degree has been alive for years. BSE graduate will have the a nice fit for both schools and will be a great that stretch between institutions and schools in the four western provinces, with a
now makes that desire possible. The opportunity to partner with Minot advantage in job areas relationship for years to come.” across political boundaries have become student population approaching 20,000.
Students will receive a BA from Briercrest State began with one conversation at a Many students are already excited to increasingly common in recent years and More churches are asking for their
and a BSE from Minot State in five years. The college fair. within the Christian school apply for this program. with good cause,” he said. “In particular, children and youth employees to have an
first three years are spent at Briercrest and In 2009, Briercrest recruiter Ken Pike system and the church. Chelsea Peters, a senior at Caronport High students are the beneficiaries of such education degree.
the remaining two at Minot State. returned from the fair wondering about a School is enthusiastic about the partnership. agreements as they are afforded a wider As this new partnership begins to take
Wes Olmstead, VP academic of Briercrest partnership with Minot State University talk about it and he responded right away,” Peters wants to be an elementary school breadth of opportunity, both experientially off, Wes Olmstead knows it will have a
is excited about the partnership. after an important discussion with an MSU Olmstead recalled. teacher, but also desires to study the Bible and educationally.” positive impact on Briercrest.
“It will allow both Canadian and American recruiter. Pike gave Olmstead the business Olmstead travelled to Minot State that at Briercrest. The job market for teaching positions in “(Besides) a well-established partnership
students to take advantage of the rich card for MSU’s VP academic and asked if a weekend and met with Neil Nordquist, dean “With this program I’d be able to do that many areas is very competitive. In addition at Minot State, (I hope) that another thing that
faculty resources and distinctive strengths partnership with the university would ever be of education and health sciences at Minot and still get the education I want,” she said. to the vocational options open to graduates happens is that Christian students in Canada
of both institutions. From the first semester an option. State. After much planning and many more “I’d get two degrees in a five year period of typical education programs, a Briercrest- and the US think about Briercrest when they
of their studies with us, students will be “I wrote the VP Academic a note and asked such meetings, the Briercrest-Minot State which is really good. I’d only have to spend a Minot State BA/BSE graduate will have the think about a degree in education.”
making important progress toward a BA from if he’d be interested in getting together to Concurrent Degrees Program was created year and a half away from home and the other advantage in job areas within the Christian

David Fuller, president of Minot State University, Minot State University campus Minot State University campus Minot State University campus President Uglem and President Fuller signing Chelsea Peters,
and Dwayne Uglem, president of Briercrest College the partnership agreement. Caronport High School student
and Seminary.

4 BRIERCREST MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION | ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2011 WWW.BRIERCREST.CA 5


No greater joy than being Briercrest, he knew without a doubt he had
to be there.
Twenty-two Ugandan and Kenyan children
between the ages of seven and 12 would call
He’s doing today.
After being at home for a few months
Andrew

‘uncle ’
“I arrived at the concert late, about half- him “uncle” throughout their 15-month tour. following that tour, Higgs realized that be- Stanley also
way through their program, but I was im-
mediately drawn to the children and to the
Each child was a victim of “war, disease, and
unfathomable injustices.” Many were or-
ing an uncle was all he really wanted—God
was calling him back. That spring, he joined
knows the joy
stories that they were telling on the stage,” phans. But performing with the choir would choir 33. The following fall, he joined choir of being an
Higgs wrote in an email while on tour with provide the funds for schooling and a future. 34, and their tour of the United Kingdom
the choir in the United Kingdom this fall. Before leaving from Montreal for Uganda wrapped up in December 2010.
‘uncle’
“I had attended the concert with some to meet “his” children for the first time in “I love what I am doing with the choir Steve Higgs wasn’t the only
to African children. friends, and we managed to squeeze into the
packed auditorium just along the back wall.
August 2008, Higgs began a blog:
“I have never been a father before, but
because I have the incredible privilege of
watching these children grow,” Higgs wrote
Briercrest grad involved with the
African Children’s Choir. Andrew
As soon as I heard the first song, though, my the opportunity to invest in and build into just weeks before heading home for Christ- Stanley was Higgs’ classmate and a
By Amy Robertson
heart began beating faster than normal … the lives of these children fills me with more mas. “While I have the chance to teach fellow member of ELEVATE, one of
After hearing a few songs and a few testimo- excitement and joy than I can express in them about life, they have also taught me Briercrest’s former touring worship
Steve Higgs never thought American Idol
nies I was literally incapable of sitting still. words,” he wrote. so much. So much about living faithfully, so bands. He and Higgs worked together
would change his life.
My eyes were filled with tears, and my heart Higgs’ primary role on tour over the last much about living with a spirit of gratitude, with choirs 32 and 33.
The 23-year-old Moncton, N.B. native is a
was filled with excitement.” two and a half years has been managing the and so much about the joy of the Lord. “It’s only the Lord who put
bassist, not a singer—and he has no interest
Higgs’ time at Briercrest taught him what sound and video during the choir’s shows. “I love this job because at the end of Andrew and I on the road with the
in a record deal. But seeing the African Chil-
a life lived in response to God’s kingdom But he feels most alive simply being their each day I put my head down on my pillow choir together,” Higgs wrote in
dren’s Choir for the first time on the popular
should look like. The concert in Moose Jaw uncle. and praise the Lord for delivering these chil- an email. “Our journeys are each
show began a journey that has changed him
was his invitation. An almost unspeakable joy has charac- dren from poverty into reaching their full po- very different, but we have had the
forever.
He stopped by the information table in terized these last three years for Higgs as tential. I love this job because I get to watch privilege of walking them together.
Higgs had always been fascinated by
the church foyer after the performance and he’s toured with three different African Chil- these children develop their confidence in We didn’t plan on touring together,
African music, and a trip to the Democratic
asked for more information. Within weeks, dren’s Choirs: Joy in the family God has giv- who they are in Christ over the months we and we didn’t even decide to sign up
Republic of the Congo with his church one
he was packing up his car to begin the 45- en him through these children, more laugh- spend on the road together. Because I get to together. Andrew and I attended the
summer broke his heart for the children who
hour drive back to New Brunswick, where ter and love than many people experience watch these little ones transform from hope- same concert in Moose Jaw and felt
had so little.
he would begin raising support for his tour in a lifetime, and the profound ability to see less to hopeful.” the same prompting to seek further
So when he heard the choir was coming
with African Children’s Choir number 32 as not just what God has done in the past, and To read more about Higgs’ journey, visit information on involvement with the
through Moose Jaw during his last year at
a chaperone. not just what He’ll do in the future, but what his blog: stevetheuncle.blogspot.com. choir … What an honour to not only
walk with Andrew through our time at
Briercrest (and yes, ELEVATE), but also
to walk with him beyond our years
there and into another season of tour
life with the African Children’s Choir.”
Stanley is currently working at The
Meeting House, a church in southern
Ontario. To read about his travels with
the African Children’s Choir, visit his
blog: andrewithacc.blogspot.com.

- Robertson

Every year, Briercrest College and


Seminary encourages students to
get involved in short-term missions
opportunities.

6 BRIERCREST MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION | ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2011 WWW.BRIERCREST.CA 7


DORM LIFE Residence director
ONE OF THE BEST PARTS OF LIFE AT BRIERCREST.
We believe that an education that impacts the whole person includes experiences inside and outside the classroom.
doesn’t leave his
work at the curb
By Amy Robertson

Dan Gabor doesn’t believe in leaving his work at work, and according to
the guys he’s worked with, that’s what makes him extraordinary.
Dan is a residence director at Briercrest College and Seminary, and in
the five years since he began, he’s walked with hundreds of high school
and college students through school work, relationships, confusion, joy, and
faith.
In his first year on the job, in the fall of 2005, he was responsible for 60
young men.
It was exciting—but intimidating. In addition to overseeing an entire
dorm, he had to lead a team of four residence assistants, all of whom the
previous year’s RD had selected.
Within days, Dan’s fears dissipated. Every night, he’d come home en-
ergized instead of exhausted, thinking he had the greatest job in the world.
Dan spends the better part of his day listening and occasionally offering
advice—but he insists he’s not a counsellor.
It’s more like “a spiritual friendship,” he said with a thoughtful smile.
His work involves some administration and some disciplinary action,
but mostly things that make him look forward to getting out of bed in the
morning: listening and caring, walking and praying with people through their
struggles, and watching for God’s hand in their lives.
He calls it “creating space.” By reserving judgement, asking questions,
and offering encouragement rather than easy answers, he helps students
make room for God to speak.
He’s modest about how his actions affect his students. “Not that I do
anything, really—I’m present in those moments, not achieving those mo-
ments.”
He calls those moments—the ones when a student sees a little more of
God’s greatness, or is changed because of His power—the best part of his
job.
j
Dan is always happily surprised at his students’ openness. So many
are willing to share their lives with him, even after they’re no longer his re-
sponsibility. Several of the young men Dan worked with five years ago have
Students who live in dorm live in a community with graduated, gotten married, and moved on, and yet they maintain significant
people from different backgrounds and experiences, form relationships with Dan.
lifelong friendships, and grow spiritually. Students and Josh Knowles is one of them. He works on campus while studying in the
seminary, and every so often, he sits in Dan’s office to talk about life, God,
faculty agree that dorm life is one of the best parts of the
and ministry.
Briercrest experience. Each dorm has a residence director Knowles was one of Dan’s first RAs, and he appreciates Dan’s genuine-
(RD) and each hall has two or three residence assistants ness and the depth of his care.
(RAs). These leaders are there to offer help and support Call 1-800-667-5199
and encourage spiritual and social development. or email admissions@briercrest.ca.

8 BRIERCREST MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION | ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2011 WWW.BRIERCREST.CA 9


Five years.
Two degrees.
“You really get the impression that Dan doesn’t stop thinking about
it when you walk out of the office,” Knowles said. He believes Dan really
listens—and keeps thinking, caring, and praying when his students aren’t
around.
Dan also makes students part of his own life, being real about his strug-
gles and inviting students into his home to spend time with his wife, Penny,
and their six children.
Penny has no trouble with Dan’s work and home life being so inter-
twined.
“When your job is caring for people, it’s hard to go away from work,
but that isn’t a bad thing,” Penny said.
She spends a lot of time praying for his students. “I feel like
we’re called here together.”
A lot of people would have trouble juggling it all but Dan “never,

Outsta
a nding!!
ever seemed too busy,” Knowles said. “If it was important, it didn’t
matter. He wouldn’t hesitate to pull out the (tea) kettle.”
Knowles was inspired, he said, by the fact that Dan was never
willing to give up on anyone. He would never wonder whether a
rebellious, angry student still belonged at Briercrest. Dan would
simply watch for God to work.
He seemed to know exactly when to be frank and honest,
Knowles said. When he did lay it all out for a student, he did so
gently and constructively.
Joshua St. Pierre was another student under Dan’s care Increase your job possibilities in our new education program.
during Dan’s first year in the dorm, and he tells a similar
story. Until St. Pierre and his wife moved to Edmonton this
summer, the two men still met regularly to talk and pray. • Deadline to apply for the first cohort of • Some MSU courses may be programmed
“Dan was great because I can count so many times students is March 31, 2011. into the three years at Briercrest, and some
when he would just come into our rooms and chill,” he said, Briercrest courses may be programmed into
explaining that spending time with people in paid leader- • Classes begin at Briercrest in fall semester the two years at MSU.
ship positions can be awkward because “they have to.” 2011.
With Dan, though, it was “so obvious he actually cared.” • Of the two years at MSU one will be fully “on
St. Pierre appreciates what he learned from Dan about • Students applying will require separate campus.” The second year will include a four-
joy. acceptance from both Briercrest and month student teaching program.
“(Dan) operates out of a spirit of genuine joy about almost Minot State.
everything. I’ve always been impressed by that … because of that, • Graduates of the program receive two
he’s so much fun to be around.” • Program duration is five years. The student’s separate degrees —a BA from Briercrest and a
Dan also taught St. Pierre about grace. “He has a very full and first three years are spent at Briercrest and the BSE from Minot State.
rich understanding of grace—how he dealt with difficult people. He second two at Minot State.
always seemed to know how to respond … • For the most part, the costs associated with
“He understands people in a way I haven’t ever, ever seen • Students may choose from five majors: each degree program (BA and BSE) are
with anyone else. It’s crazy.” elementary education or English, history, normal to their home institution and will be
Dan shaped who St. Pierre was as a leader. Dan hired St. kinesiology, or music at the secondary
Pierre and three others to work for him as RAs in Dan’s second
covered by the tuition payments.
school level.
year, but Dan later had to step into leadership in the high school
dorm, leaving his team to work for a different RD.
St. Pierre didn’t mind much—he knew Dan would remain
a mentor.
“I am who I am today in good part because of Dan.”

Find out more at www.briercrest.ca/education

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The BA in Music is designed for Students can participate in a variety Successful graduates of the program
those who are naturally gifted in the of school music groups that perform are prepared to become competent

Joya
arts (music, drama, etc.) and who desire on campus, in area churches, and on tours music and worship leaders for churches,
to develop these gifts while broadening across the country. Contact us for more para-church ministries, and mission
their education with courses in Bible and information. organizations. This program lays a solid
theology, Christian ministry, and arts and foundation for further study at the graduate
science. or undergraduate level, particularly in the
areas of music or pastoral ministry.

Johnston
gets paid to do
A gifted pianist and vocalist, she lives
her passion by leading people into worship
at Moose Jaw Alliance Church—and thanks
fit perfectly.
“It’s who she is,” Julihn said.
Johnston believes her time with Isaac is
Molberg was impressed with Johnston’s
leadership skills, especially considering the size
of the group—there were nine members the year
Prof ’s impact goes
to the training and practice she got at Bri-
ercrest College and Seminary, it’s second
instrumental to her success at Moose Jaw Alli-
ance. As the group’s contact person, she helped
Johnston led.
She and the rest of the group weren’t just
beyond Briercrest
nature. organize the tours, which gave her the commu- phenomenal musicians, he said. They under- One of Joya Johnston’s favourite profes-

what she loves. Johnston, 27, has been playing the pia-
no and singing for more than 20 years. She
started piano lessons at six years old and
was singing with her family even before that.
nication and organizational skills she uses ev-
ery day at work.
She also learned to lead people with differ-
ing backgrounds in worship—Isaac played in a
stood worship ministry and what Briercrest
wanted them to accomplish through it, and they
took it seriously.
Three years after Johnston graduated, in
sors at Briercrest was Ken Dosso, an ac-
complished teacher, songwriter, and worship
leader who has since moved on to the Evan-
gelical Free Church of Lethbridge to serve as
By the time she was ready for college, she variety of contexts, from small, traditional coun- 2005, the worship director’s position became the director of worship arts.
By Amy Robertson knew she wanted to use her music for God’s try churches to youth drop-in centres. It pre- available. Her pastor, Keith Gonyou, had noticed He “really, really impacted me,” Johnston
glory, and Briercrest seemed like the logical pared her well, she said, to lead at Moose Jaw her talent and knew she’d studied at Briercrest. said. “He’s so talented.”
choice: it had a great reputation, she could Alliance, a large church that’s home to multiple He encouraged her to apply. In 2008, just five months after accept-
study music, worship, and the Bible, and it generations. “Her gifts were obvious,” Gonyou said. ing a position at Moose Jaw Alliance Church,
was close to home. “There’s a real calling there.” Johnston travelled to Lethbridge, Alta., for a
“I really loved my four years there,” said Johnston selects music for each week’s ser- modular course with Dosso called Arranging
Johnston, who earned a BA in Worship Minis-
try. “Sometimes I wish I could go back.”
The most significant vice, rehearses with a worship team, works with
several musical ensembles, and helps coordinate
for Worship Teams.
Dosso said he’d noticed growth since
The most significant aspect of her experi-
ence was the two-year period she spent with
aspect of her a monthly hymn sing.
Her favourite part of her job, though, is leading
Johnston was a student.
It was apparent to him that she “was set-
a music group called Isaac. It confirmed her
call to be a worship leader.
experience was the the congregation in worship.
“It’s a really cool thing for me to witness and
tling into church life” as she interacted with
how she would apply his course material to
Isaac, whose name signified the mem-
bers’ sacrifice of praise, was made up of Bri-
two-year period she be a part of,” she said.
“I get paid to do music, and I love it. It’s a joy.”
her ministry at Moose Jaw Alliance.
According to Johnston, his observations
ercrest students. They began independently,
but as they practiced, members of the music
spent with a music were correct:
“His teaching was so practical, and I
faculty saw potential. Before long, the school
asked if they’d like to travel throughout West-
group called Isaac. It learned so much about how to improve the ar-
ranging that I was doing for my praise teams,”
ern Canada to perform, lead worship, and
promote the school. The band members said
confirmed her call to she wrote in an email. “I felt refreshed and
even more determined to do my best to min-
yes.
In their second year, Johnston stepped
be a worship leader. ister to the people at Moose Jaw Alliance
Church and to serve God with the gifts that He
up as leader. has blessed me with.”
Johnston credits much of her growth to pro-
Erin Julihn (Terris), a friend and former Dosso teaches Briercrest College and
fessors like Keith Molberg, who shaped and
Isaac member, described her as a gifted, Seminary modular courses regularly. His next
mentored her.
discerning, and wise worship leader. course is Arranging for Worship Teams from
Molberg worked closely with Isaac, touring
“She was the backbone in many ways to March 7-13 in Lethbridge. The class will have
with the group in their second year and attend-
the ministry that we had,” she said. an opportunity to lead worship at a Sunday
ing many rehearsals.
Johnston selected the music for Isaac’s service at the Evangelical Free Church of Le-
“His commitment to excellence was so in-
engagements. Often, the group had no idea thbridge on the last day of class.
spiring to me, and it made me want to dedicate
what the theme of the night would be or what For more information, or to register, visit
myself to a life of learning,” Johnston wrote in
a speaker might be sharing. But almost al- www.briercrest.ca. – Robertson
an email.
ways, Julihn said, the music Johnson chose

12 BRIERCREST MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION | ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2011 WWW.BRIERCREST.CA 13


YOUTH MINISTRY THAT
of Joe’s Place, a drop-in centre for troubled
youth in Moose Jaw, Sask., nothing makes van
Goch nervous.
He curbs his urges to simply tell hurting kids

breaks
what to do, instead taking every opportunity to
mention his faith.
The tactic has resulted in some “oddly deep,
spiritual conversations,” he said.
One day, a kid made a comment about ani-
mals being just as sacred as humans.
“Last time I checked, I bear God’s image,”
van Goch replied bluntly. It led to a long con-
versation about how and why God set humanity

the mold
apart from the rest of creation.
Another day, a young man was discussing
Christianity with van Goch, insisting there was
no way Christians were “allowed” to consume
alcohol.
Van Goch said it wasn’t as simple as that,
telling the story of the wedding at Cana, where
Jesus turned water into wine for the guests.
The young man didn’t believe him, announcing
By Amy Robertson that he was going home to read the story in
the Bible himself so he could prove van Goch
wrong.
“Did that just happen?!” van Goch thought,
Mike van Goch has always been a different other—hang out in skate parks. laughing to himself. Was it that easy to get kids
kind of youth pastor. Van Goch saw a need, so he picked up a to read their Bibles?
Erik Reimer, a former Briercrest professor, longboard, even though he hadn’t been on one His methods were unconventional but they
noticed that van Goch broke the mold even as in over a decade, and joined them. brought Jesus to the skate park. Without him,
he sat in Reimer’s class at Briercrest College Reimer shared a story about van Goch in a girl who cut might have five peers who could
and Seminary seven years ago. his article: empathize because they had the same problem—
“He sat in the far-right corner of the class, “‘Hey, old man! Why the (expletive deleted) but there was no one to really help her.
close to the exit, seemingly disinterested at do you have a pink and blue ribbon on your Van Goch provided “a stop” for kids’ problems,
times, yet often piping up with the most pro- board?!’ the 12-year-old calls out. His language he said, because he could introduce them to Christ.
found questions that forced me as an instructor and tone may be shocking to many Evangelical Perhaps it’s just as well that the first 52 re-
to think twice before giving a standard answer,” Christians, but Mike van Goch … is anything but sumes he sent came up empty. Maybe the churches
Reimer wrote in a short article about van Goch shocked. Here on the ramps of Vernon’s largest couldn’t imagine a youth pastor who hung out in
years later. skate park, the 26-year-old knows that his title, skate parks instead of church youth rooms—and
The two men worked together at Faith Bap- ‘old man,’ in reality carries enormous respect maybe for van Goch, that wouldn’t work.
tist Church in Vernon, B.C., for three years. among these rough-around-the-edges youth. Or maybe God knew that for a time, the kids
Reimer was the senior pastor, and van Goch “‘It’s in memory of my son, Brody,’ Mike at the skate park needed him more than any youth says they should consider Jesus’ approach to sin: clearly wasn’t going to sit in his office and wait for
worked 40 to 60 hours per week as a flood tech returns. The boy’s sarcastic tone immediately group did. quoting Scripture. youth group to start. He was going to dedicate him-
for a restoration company while volunteering in softens, and the pink and blue ribbon (the in- Late last year, a church in Bow Island, Alta., When two people are having a problem, van self to caring for kids—wherever they were.
the youth group. ternational symbol to honour stillborn children) picked up resume number 53 and decided they Goch asks them to work it out, saying they’ll be “We sensed he really had a heart for today’s
It wasn’t his career of choice. He’d submit- opens up a conversation where Mike is able to wanted a different kind of youth pastor. “stuck” together for eternity—so they’d might as youth,” Roger Lobb, the senior pastor, said.
ted dozens of applications for paid youth min- share how Jesus Christ is his source of strength Van Goch accepted their offer because of how well talk about it now. Van Goch is already thinking about how he
istry positions, but most went nowhere. One or to deal with the incredible loss. the church approached ministry, he said. They be- When church leaders wonder about vision and can find a way to care for the students at the high
two generated offers, just not the right ones. “‘That’s cool,’ the kid replies as the two of lieve everyone should use their gifts for ministry, direction, van Goch insists that the Bible already school nearby. There’s no skate park in Bow Island,
But money didn’t matter to van Goch—hurt- them return to their skateboarding.” and they believe they exist for one reason: to pro- provides it. so van Goch will adapt.
ing kids did. If no one would pay him to work Sometimes van Goch’s approach makes claim Jesus. “We just need to read it more often and go do “I’ll just have to learn to drive a tractor and
full time with teenagers, he’d do it in his spare Evangelicals nervous, but as a six-year veteran He hasn’t scaled back his style—he tells the stuff,” he said simply. shoot things,” he said.
time. truth, even when it doesn’t feel good. And the The church wanted van Goch because of his He took his first combine ride the other day.
The skater culture on the ‘Hey, old man! Why the (expletive deleted) church is okay with that. dedication. Someone who would work 60 hours a
West Coast is huge. Hundreds week in Vernon, spend time with his wife, Julie, and
of kids—many of them in pain,
do you have a pink and blue ribbon on He challenges people to be biblical and not just
practical. Rather than discussing prayer partner- their boys, Marcus and Jackson, and still spend
with no one to listen but one an- your board?!’ the 12-year-old calls out. ships for teens who struggle with gossip, van Goch whatever free time he could in the skate park

14 BRIERCREST MAGAZINE COLLEGE EDITION | ISSUE 2 | WINTER 2011 WWW.BRIERCREST.CA 15


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