By Rob Schellenberg
he Moncton Wesleyan Church is getting a great return on its investment.
The church leadership saw potential in a bright young man at their church, and after internships and years of study at Briercrest College and Seminary, Jeremy MacDonald (College '09) has returned to help with a growing youth program.
Dave Steeves (Briercrest 2000) is Jeremy MacDonald’s mentor and is providing leadership to the pair’s youth ministry as they are in the midst of a three-year plan that will see Steeves move into young adult ministries and the transfer the youth program reins to MacDonald.
The team work is showing results that many would consider abnormal, especially considering that MacDonald graduated from Briercrest College and Seminary just last year.
The Wesleyan Church in Moncton currently touches approximately 700 youth with the message that Christ loves them.
The young people are reached by breakfast clubs, lunch time outreach programs, and trips outside of the church.
“They get a chance to know for sure that somebody does care about me and somebody does love me, and that’s catchy—that spreads,” MacDonald said.
They then go back to the mid-week studies, and discipleship programs. The committed students are encouraged to participate in mission and leadership opportunities with continuous contact with quality leaders who are caring adults.
MacDonald retells the story of how almost all of one Grade 6 class from a local middle school is now coming to the program after three church youth kept sharing its excitement.
“That kind of momentum is definitely what makes our group so big.” MacDonald is thankful for the training he was given before leaving Caronport with a BA in Youth Ministry. He studied under and worked for several great professors and credits professors Marv Penner and Sean Davidson with giving him the tools to succeed.
“It was just a phenomenal dream come true to be able to sit in Marv Penner’s classes.”
“To learn from him, any class that I took, was just golden.” The Moncton pastor added that Penner knew the priorities successful pastors needed to have and he had seen the vast range of successful ministries.
“I’ve been prepared very well from someone who has already walked this path before.”
Sean Davidson also gave MacDonald a new love for an area of academics that was foreign to the New Brunswick native.
“I was really blown away and impressed. I had never liked English in high school. He brought the material alive and made it fit into my one-track mind.”
Working for both Davidson and Penner as an intern and attending Davidson’s home church also gave MacDonald a perspective on walking the “Christian walk.”
“So to be able to see them on a one-on-one kind of thing— that also helped bring the material to life. That hey, this isn’t something that they’re teaching out of a book, but something they want to live and they really want to see you get the material and then to go and use it in the Kingdom, which is exactly what I was hoping to do and so it really resonated well with me.”
MacDonald started his studies through distance learning because it allowed him to save money living at home while doing an internship at the Moncton church prior to coming to Caronport. That allowed him to know what questions to ask and what areas of study he needed.
“I was doing youth ministry before I learned to do youth ministry.”
“It gave my whole education a new flavour ... knowing more of what I was going to be doing, I could ask the right questions.”