By Amy Robertson
Laura Welker was a freshman at Briercrest College and Seminary in Caronport, Sask, 12 years ago. She graduated four years later with a BA in General and Biblical Studies as the college’s valedictorian. Later, she earned an MA in Theological Studies and received an excellence award at her graduation April 24, 2010.
Illness made those achievements incredibly difficult.
“During my first year, I became debilitated by an undiagnosed illness and was forced to complete the rest of my classes at a snail’s pace," she said. "[My professors'] seemingly limitless mercy, grace, supportive prayers, and encouragement enabled me to not give up (though many times I wanted to), and I now have a fresh understanding of the mercy, grace, and love of Christ."
“The suffering and struggle of the past five years has taught me to be patient, to appreciate the little graces in life, and to not despise the smallest service I can contribute to the Kingdom," she continues. "While I hope to eventually teach full-time at a Bible college, and, if the Lord wills and strengthens, pursue a Ph.D., I will leave that in God’s hands and trust that he will continue to use all that he has given me for his glory.”
Welker's journey, in addition to being more difficult, also lasted much longer than originally planned—and not just because of her illness. She came to Canada to complete only a two-year degree in music. But almost from the moment she arrived on campus, she says, she “fell wholeheartedly in love with Briercrest.”
“It was everything I ever dreamed of—meaty training in the Bible and music, one-on-one openhearted discipleship by faculty and their wives, opportunities to play in Celtic bands, and more dear, Christ-like friends than I ever had time for,” she says. “My college years were without a doubt the best years of my life.”
After a year at home, Welker decided to return to Briercrest to complete a B.A., which she finished in 2003, with the goal of becoming a licensed counsellor.
After a few years of working in the U.S., however, she felt led to pursue a different calling: teaching the New Testament. Welker enrolled in the M.A. in Theological Studies in 2005.
“Every one of my classes was a banquet as I feasted on the richness of the New Testament in its original language and context and dialogued with the brightest minds in scholarship,” she says.
Welker currently works as the music director and youth co-leader at her church in Montana. She taught several classes at Living Faith Bible College in Alberta this year, and she hopes to eventually pursue doctoral studies and continue teaching.
“I can’t wait to use my training and gifting to disciple Bible college students!” she says.