MVNU students Shine Forth


As the 2016-17 school year comes to a close, many students have lined up positions in jobs, internships, graduate degrees, missions trips and more for the coming months.

These various positions across the world truly embody MVNU’s desire to Shine Forth. Here is a look at what a few MVNU students are currently up to.

Senior ministry major Clayton Christopher plans to continue his education after receiving his diploma this Saturday.

Q: What are your plans for summer/post-graduation?

Christopher: I will be attending Vanderbilt Divinity School down in Nashville this upcoming fall pursuing my Master of Divinity. This is a challenging three-year program incorporating biblical, theological, and historical studies as well as pastoral and community organizing skills.

Q: What motivated you to toward this direction?

Christopher: Part of it had to do with me wanting to continue to fill the gaps in my education. Another part was the challenge to get out of my comfort zone and go to a new place with new people. But, a large part of it had to do with the reputation of Vanderbilt and the people who are already there. I visited the Divinity School back in February and found out very quickly that the students that are part of this community already are and will continue to be movers in society. The primary difference between seminary and divinity school is that seminaries largely exist to pump out ordained ministers for their respective denominations, whereas divinity schools are more broadly focused on pursuing love and justice in the world both inside and outside of traditional ecclesial ministry.

Q: What are you hoping to accomplish?

Christopher: I want to surround myself with people and opportunities that will continue to challenge and stretch me in new ways. I hope to continue to grow spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and relationally. I hope to develop new skills in research, writing, speaking, communication, and grassroots community organizing.

Q: What are you most excited for?

Christopher: New opportunities!

Junior Kailey Waal will spend her summer in Zambia with the Overland Missions’ Advanced Mission Training (AMT) program.

Q: What motivated you to accept this position?

Kailey: The opportunity to go on this trip was an answer to a lot of seemingly disconnected prayers. I hadn't actually heard of Overland Missions until meeting two missionaries from the organization at a random concert I went to in the fall. After talking to them for a while about ministry, I looked into the AMT program and it felt like God was opening a door for me, so I decided to follow him through it!

Q: What will your role be?

Kailey: AMT is a training program where I'll get to learn about what it looks like to share the gospel with people in some of the most remote places on earth. While in Zambia I will be learning practical skills and then using them in order to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those living in the African bush.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish?

Kailey: As I am planning on entering ministry after graduating from MVNU next year, I hope that this summer provides the opportunity for me to learn how to trust God and allow him to work through me to bring his Kingdom to earth.

Q: What are you most excited for?

Kailey: I'm excited to see God's transforming work in contexts other than my own.

Freshman Michelle Leighty will travel with Collegians Chorale on a choir tour and missions trip across Italy and Croatia in the month of May.

Q: What motivated you to go where you are/are headed?

Leighty: I wasn’t planning to go on this trip because of the cost and I had no desire to ever board a plane in my life (I wouldn’t be opposed to a ship). But, I had always wanted to travel and God kept putting the trip on my mind. When a scholarship opportunity for the trip came up, I decided to give it a shot. So, I wrote the essay, and about a week later, I got an email saying everyone who applied got a scholarship and that those who weren’t committed (at this time I wasn’t) received a $1,000 scholarship! God really provided a way for me to go.

Q: What will you be doing on the trip?

Leighty: Although we will be doing some touring and sightseeing, we are going in order to spread the love of Christ through our music ministry. In Venice, Italy, we will be performing at the Santa Maria Miracoli Church and St. Mark’s Cathedral. In Zagreb, Croatia, we will be helping in at the new church site they call The Hub, along with sharing our music and helping the refugees at Hotel Porin. In Vukovar, Croatia, we will be sing in a large concert called Valley of Blessings. In Catania, Sicily, we will minister with and for the Catania Church of the Nazarene and have an open concert in the city of Cicerali. We will be singing for the children and troops at the U.S. Sigonella Naval Air base in Sicily. Finally, we will be singing at a concert at Sant Andrea della Valle and the Papal Audience in Rome.

Q: What are you most excited for?

Leighty: I am most excited for singing in some of the amazing places we will be at and our spontaneous performances in places we will be touring. Dr. Bob Tocheff says that the people are so amazing. We’ve already gotten to speak to someone from Croatia and learned about his family and ministry, so I’m really excited for the new relationships we’ll be making.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish?.

Leighty: We hope to accomplish spreading love, and not hate, during this trip. Tension is high because of the rise of terrorism. With that being said, please pray for the places we are to travel and for our cause in Croatia and Italy. Also pray for Vukovar as they will be host a very large festival while we are traveling through. Pray for safety for everyone at the festival and that we may have an opportunity to spread the Gospel during that time.

Q: What are you most excited for?

Leighty: I am most excited for singing in some of the amazing places we will be at and our spontaneous performances in places we will be touring. Dr. Bob Tocheff says that the people are so amazing. We’ve already gotten to speak to someone from Croatia and learned about his family and ministry, so I’m really excited for the new relationships we’ll be making.

Alumnus Jon Gerlach has already made his transition to Oceanside, California and currently serves as a co-pastor of a church pant.

Q What are you currently doing as a recent alumnus of MVNU?

Gerlach: I graduated in December 2016 with a degree in Urban Ministry. Post Graduation my plan was to attend Nazarene Theological Seminary online, which I am doing. While in an online video class, I met someone who knew of a job opening in Oceanside, California. I thought, "There is a 99% chance this won't work out." It worked out. I currently live in Vista California and I am a co-pastor of a church plant called New Venture City Church which will begin meeting on Sunday, April 23rd, in downtown Oceanside.

Q: What motivated you to go where you are/are headed?

Gerlach: God opened the door and kicked me through it.

Q: What is your role?

Gerlach: I will be pastoring a church and trying to reach, build, and liberate the community of Oceanside from that which holds them back from life to the fullest.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish?

Gerlach: I am hoping to be faithful to God; faithful despite any complications or trials. I am committed to being a source of life in a dead world, light in a dark world, and liberty in an enslaved world—for ourselves, for others; for and through God.

Q: What are you most excited about?

Gerlach: The opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ to a community that desperately needs to feel his love. Also California.

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