Although Heidi Pinno says her Briercrest years have taught her a lot, she has a word of caution for those considering a Christian education.
“It can be so easy to come in and feel like just being here will shape you,” she exclaimed. “You can go to classes and read the Word and go to chapel every day, and those things will push you toward the Lord. But if we don’t pursue Christ, it’s like our hearts can become hardened . . . because we’re not actually listening for the Lord’s voice.”
Pursuing God and discerning His voice is something the third year TESOL student says her professor David Catterick has stressed to his students in preparing them to teach English around the world.
“(He says) ‘This is your professional training, but ultimately in the classroom you’re going to come down to relying on the Holy Spirit,’” she said recalling her professor’s instruction to the class. “’You need to learn what it means to hear the Lord’s voice. You need to learn what it means to know Scripture – to be able to discern good and evil.’”
Pinno says the community of Briercrest has helped her to spiritually stay on track.
“I feel like on a daily basis you run into different people – people you know really well or people you haven’t met yet – who challenge you in your walk with the Lord,” she explained. “In that way it shows you these new depths of the gospel because you see it from so many different angles.
“The community here is phenomenal,” she continued. “I think the size is big enough to meet someone every day that you’ve never met and yet small enough that you feel very much the community feel and the family feel.”
For her internship, Pinno is going to China this summer. Her passion for those in need draws her to places many TESOL graduates don’t go.
“I really have a heart for rural areas – poverty stricken places where they wouldn’t get a lot of English teaching,” she explained. “I really have a heart for the poor – potentially India or Southeast Asia somewhere. I entered TESOL with the desire and the hope to serve overseas eventually for the rest of my life. I’m still keeping my ears open for where the Lord might be sending me.”
As graduation next year draws closer, and she considers eventually moving overseas, Pinno relishes time with her family who recently moved from Vernon, B.C. to Outlook, Sask.
“I’m thinking for the first couple of years (after graduation) I’m actually going to stay in Saskatchewan while I work and pay off my student loans,” she said. “I kind of want to stay in Regina or Saskatoon – close enough to come visit because I still have close friends here and my parents.”
Pinno sees her TESOL education as a key that opens the door to many countries that are hard to enter.
“The Lord has gifted me with the opportunity to attend Briercrest and get this degree that actually gives me access into places where people want to be missionaries but can’t get in,” she said.
For next year, the TESOL student’s mission field will be in Hillson Hall, the high school girls’ dorm where she will be serving as a resident coordinator/chaplain.