Trent Matthews Prepares for Marriage and Ministry
From childhood, Trent has struggled to figure out God’s plan for his life. He knew that God was calling him to something, but he has not always been sure of where God would lead him. Now a recent graduate of Campbell University Divinity School, he is not sure of all of the details in God’s plan, but he has a better sense of identity and direction.
In August 2007, he enrolled in Campbell University as a religion major with hopes of also attending Campbell Divinity School and becoming a youth minister. During his time at Campbell, Trent became involved in the tutoring program at Baptist Fellowship of Angier. He found purpose in ministering to the kids in the program as he was able to “be a light to those in darkness.” He also spent his summers completing various internships with churches and non-profit organizations. He says, “God was at work in me during this time, and I could feel my faith and spirituality growing in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I was finally living out my true identity.”
After the first semester of his junior year, he began to feel that his call to youth ministry was being replaced by a call to non-profit ministry. He says, “It took me a while to realize that I can do ministry outside of the church and that the church is not bound to the building itself, but the people who make up the faith-based community.” This newfound calling to a ministry outside of the local church made him question whether he was supposed to attend divinity school after all.
Despite his uncertainty, he applied for the dual degree program which he hoped would help him make his decision. He says, “I came to the conclusion that if I got into Divinity School and got a job as a graduate assistant on campus the coming summer, then it would be evident that it was God’s purpose for my life to attend Campbell University Divinity School.”
His calling was confirmed when he was accepted to the program. His first year, however, he met with many challenges and struggles. Being an undergraduate and a graduate student in the same semester made him struggle with his place in the divinity school student body, and his purpose in the congregationally-focused academic program.
During his time of questioning he found what he calls a “sign of light and hope.” Her name is Courtney Williamson. He says, “As she entered my life, I began to have a better understanding of my purpose and calling.” He adds, “Her support, love, and compassion helped me continue my education at divinity school when I was unsure of it.” Trent considers Courtney one of the many blessings God used to confirm his call to ministry.
Further confirmation of his purpose and calling came when Trent was offered a position as the International Services graduate assistant. His acceptance to the master’s program, his relationship with Courtney, and his new graduate assistant position reassured him that God was calling him to divinity school.
Trent found his niche in Christian theology. The class sparked his interest in learning and gave him a more practical avenue of study. He says, “It was at this point that I realized that God’s plan or purpose for me was not completely clear, but God’s desire for me to learn more about my own theology and practice was. I ended the first full year of my divinity school experience with a hunger to learn more about theology and the practical aspects that apply to ministry.”
By his second year in divinity school, he had transitioned to a graduate assistant position for the Student Government Association and the Inter-Organizational Council, and had also become a Resident Director for one of the dorms on campus. Trent says that these opportunities made God’s plan for him even more evident.
Where the first part of his educational experience developed him as a person, he credits the next part with developing him as a minister. The next turn in his journey brought him to a class titled the Christian Childhood Educator. He says, “In this class I learned the importance of being professional in order to earn respect in ministry,” and, “I learned the value of being organized, well prepared, developing relationships, and dressing well.” After taking a spiritual gifts test in the class, he was assured of his gifts in administration and service. He says, “This was important for me because it was the first time that I had experienced confirmation that I was called to a ministry that was service oriented and took place outside of the church.”
Then of the supervised ministry course he says, “I came to realize that my strengths were in administration, exhortation, implementation, mediation, and service.” He appreciates the various ministries that he was involved in that helped him develop these strengths, and at this point he knew that his call was to find ways to help those in need.
At the start of his last year in divinity school, he accepted a position in the Campus Ministry Department at Campbell as the Community Engagement Coordinator. His responsibilities included planning service events and building relationships with those who were less fortunate. He felt that his previous jobs at Campbell had done well to prepare him for these tasks. He says, “I could feel God’s call for my life stronger than ever, and I could sense that he was leading me in the right direction and all I needed to do was follow him.”
Before graduation he said, “As I prepare to leave divinity school, I have learned to put complete faith and trust in God for he is with me. He has looked upon me and called my name to bear the light of Christ outside of the church, and I will bear this light until my dying days.”
Trent’s journey through divinity school was one of constant questioning and confirmation. It served to prepare him as both an individual and a minister whose only desire is to follow God’s plan for his life. Now, Trent and Courtney are looking forward to building a marriage on the foundation of Jesus Christ. As for local church ministry, Trent believes that his place is behind the scenes in administrative work. Outside of the church he aspires to work in non-profit ministry that has a mission to help children who are underprivileged. As he looks to the future he says, “God has given me the qualities, skills, and support needed to carry out my call.”