Biblical studies program: A firm foundation for many career paths

Julie Cole | May 30, 2012
Josh Leventhal Josh LeventhalJosh Leventhal
Josh Leventhal Josh LeventhalJoanna Caramay

A Biblical studies degree at Briercrest isn’t just for future pastors and professors. 

Many of the current students in the program see it as something that will strengthen their spiritual footing regardless of what they do in life.

Saskatoon resident Josh Leventhal enrolled in Briercrest’s biblical studies program after spending a year at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia.

“I want to go into worship ministry,” he explained. “I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet, but my primary goal is to make sure I have a good degree.  I think my goal is to get as much out of learning at a college as possible, and for me this in depth study of Scripture has really helped me to know the Lord better.”

Joanna Caramay came to Briercrest from Burnaby, B.C. after spending a year at the University of British Columbia (UBC) pursuing a degree in social work.

“I found it really passionless,” she said. “I’d wake up every morning and think, ‘I feel like I’m not learning anything useful for the rest of my life.’ It feels like when you go to secular college, you go to get the degree at the end. Coming (to Briercrest) it’s been like I’m here for knowledge for the rest of my life that’s helpful for me now. It makes learning so much more exciting – so much more worthwhile.”

Mark Evans, originally from Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, moved to Caronport after being in Briercrest’s continuing education program for several years.  After interning for two and a half years at his uncle’s church in Lethbridge his desire to do pastoral work was confirmed.

“I like how intensive you get to study Scripture,” he said explaining what pleases him about the biblical studies program. “It’s nice to have such a balance in teaching styles. Carl Hinderager who is almost expository preaching as you go through the book – it’s nice to have that balance mixed with Wes Olmstead who will give you five different views on each verse. Both angles are helpful and edifying in their own way.”

Plugging into different areas of campus life has been vital for each student.

“Being here has been really liberating and enjoyable,” Evans said. “It’s so easy to make friends really quickly.”

Leventhal enjoyed being a leader for one of the chapel worship teams.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “Spending time with the same people consistently – I think it goes beyond just growing together musically. You get to know each other and what’s on each other’s hearts.”

Caramay served on this year’s Youth Quake (YQ) team. During the weekend of Youth Quake she presented a seminar for women on practicing a lifestyle of purity.

“I didn’t expect I would ever be doing anything like YQ,” she admitted. “Young women and (the issue of) growing into a godly woman has always been something I’m passionate about.”

Close relationships with professors are a benefit each student lists about their Briercrest experience.

Leventhal has “absolutely loved” taking Greek from Wes Olmstead.

“Especially now that I’m in the second year of it,” he said. “We’ve been able to apply so much more and look at the implications of Jesus in such a significant way that it’s actually having an effect on my (spiritual) walk!”

Evans felt a similar impact on his spiritual life from a class taught by Marty Culy on the book of Revelation.

“I basically realized there are some areas of my life I’d been neglecting spiritually,” he admitted. “Seeing the importance of being a witness for Christ, which is really, I think, the central application of Revelation.”

Caramay especially appreciates Susan Wendel for “the time she invested” and the “genuine prayer she put forward” on her behalf.

“(I appreciate) being able to even talk about worries I may have or things I don’t understand . . . with a woman who has her PhD and is so knowledgeable,” she said. “There’s this space to work things through that is so priceless.”

“There’s a community here that is for me in Christ,” Caramay explained. “Learning what I’m learning coupled with people who are taking the time to invest (in me) – I feel like I’m flourishing here. It isn’t just working toward a degree. Biblical studies is something that helps you daily—helps you serve here and now. This stuff I’m learning is fruitful everyday so the hard work and study is so worth it.”