By Julie Cole
John Ottens knows the power of words.
“Communication is big for me,” he said.
The Terrace, BC resident, who graduated with honours this past May, says his dream job would be to teach classical rhetoric at Briercrest. But he hasn’t always felt that way.
“I had a real distaste for rhetoric for a long time,” Ottens admitted. “I thought it was falsifying or making something good that’s not actually good. That’s not what rhetoric’s about at all.”
An invitation to a senior humanities seminar changed everything.
“We read through Cicero’s book On the Orator,” Ottens exclaimed. “It was my favorite thing I read all year. (Cicero said) by pursuing virtue through rhetoric a person could actually steer a nation away from destruction. I’d love to have that kind of fluency with my words.”
Ottens’ leadership role on the Presidential team, the “highlight of his Briercrest experience” has given him the opportunity to hone his public speaking skills.
“It’s been great to have an opportunity to speak in chapel. I have really appreciated being able to minister to the student body in that way.”
Ottens would love to eventually use his speaking abilities within the local church.
“Whether as a main pastor or a teaching pastor, however that ends up working out, I’d just love to work in the church and have my gifts put to use there.”
Ottens appreciates the relationships he had with several of his professors at Briercrest. One who was particularly important to him was missions professor, Tim Stabell.
“Tim Stabell was pretty key for me,” Ottens reflected. “(My first year) we started meeting together. That a professor would invest so much time in me and care about what’s going on in my life and my family back home . . . made a huge impact on me.”
Stabell insists Ottens impacted him as well.
“John amazes me with the breadth of his interests, reading and reflection,” he said. “He has been a wonderful sounding board, and spending time talking with him has challenged and stretched me intellectually and spiritually. His love for the Lord and for the church has been a great encouragement. I have deeply enjoyed his friendship.”
Ottens says in his Grade 11 year he got a “pretty strong call to ministry.”
“I had two competing desires,” he admitted. “One was to train for the ministry and one was to train as a musician. I was really torn up by this decision.”
A friend’s suggestion for Ottens to combine the two loves by pursuing worship pastoring brought peace to this dilemma.
“I started looking at schools where I could study worship leadership,” Ottens recounted. “I had a friend who went to Briercrest . He said ‘You’ve got to come to Briercrest. This is the place to be.’”
Ottens is the oldest of 6 children. He has one younger biological sister and 4 adopted siblings.
“It’s pretty cool,” Ottens said. “I’m really proud of my parents. (Parenting 6 children) is not an easy job, but they pour themselves into it. They’re great parents.”