by Sam Fletcher
My struggle throughout each and every semester has always been the mundane and the consistency of sixteen weeks out of the year. It can be slow and frustrating, and sometimes I would just like to be done. If every student who is in school is being honest, then they would agree that school is not the highlight of their day or week or month. It is not for me. It can really be taxing! School is about character and building on the knowledge that you have as a student. Every great leader is a good student. The character aspect of school is about doing what you do not want to do.
If I’m being honest, school has never been a particularly favorite hobby but it has taught me so much about discipline, diligence, and excellence. As a millennial, I tend to focus on my feelings. I do not want to do what makes me feel bad. School is that thing! School has provided me an opportunity to grow in discipline. The hardest thing about school is that it never goes away when you are in it! When one week is done, here comes another the next. School has provided an opportunity for me to grow in diligence, in that, when I get to it early, the easier it is!
School can be frustrating, but I guess, it is on purpose!
Sam is a 3rd-year Bachelor of Arts in Christian Leadership student, and a graduate of theExperience internship. He currently serves as the Student Ministries Assistant for Manna Church, Fayetteville/Fort Bragg.
Pastor Joshua Clarke shares his thoughts on pursuing your calling. Josh is a Master of Divinity online student with GCD, and his family has been instrumental in planting Manna Church, Colorado Springs.
One of the most exciting discoveries you make after deciding to follow Jesus is that you are uniquely called by God for a specific purpose to make an eternal difference. This is such a profound discovery that you immediately revert back to your childhood state and start to dream again about who you could be and what God has called you to do.
When it comes to pursuing that calling, I think the most significant thing to do is to never stop dreaming. To dream big is to have faith in who God is and what He is capable of. God desires us to be full of faith because otherwise we put our infinitely powerful, knowing, and loving God in a box. When we lack faith, we say “no” FOR God before he even gets the chance to bless us and use us. However, to constantly be living out your calling, there is a balance that you must find in dreaming big. I have always been a big dreamer, but sometimes I get so caught up in those dreams that I forget to make the most of where God has me now. This is the tension that we must live in; dreaming big for the future and being obedient to God right now. This obedience is ultimately what leads to the fulfillment of a dream. To pursue your calling is to be obedient to God in this moment. To pursue your calling is to pursue God. If you continue to pursue God, you will never be walking outside of your calling.
A year and a half ago I came to a cross roads. I knew that I was called to multiply God’s Kingdom through the local church, and I could either do that by staying where I was in Fayetteville and investing in that community or I could be a part of starting Manna Church in Colorado Springs. The question was not, “which makes the most sense” or “which one do I like most.” The question was simply “how can I be obedient to God right now?” The answer to the right question ended up being the illogical answer: to move my family across the country to be a part of starting a church. God’s dreams for me ended up being greater than anything I could think up. Since we have been out here, I have been able to be a part of an amazing church plant with unprecedented growth and Kingdom impact, and my family has experienced more blessings than I would have ever thought possible in such a short time. Pursing your calling is simply being obedient to God. There is so much joy in being exactly where God desires you to be.
Long-time GCD faculty member and pastor Richard Lee “Dick” Gaffney has a heart for international missions, but that’s only part of his story. Come meet him at GCD’s 9th Annual Golf Tournament this Friday (March 22).
Dick Gaffney’s first taste of a culture not his own came at the age of 12. His father served in the U.S. Army, with one assignment in Japan. Though Dick has served in many roles himself through his nearly 83 years, themes of service, education, and missions work have been continuously present.
Following his father’s steps, he joined the Army in 1958. Dick married Judy Royce a year later. Susan, Rick, and Debbie were added to the family soon thereafter. The family moved with tours of duty stateside as well as two tours in Germany, allowing trips to neighboring countries. He also served two assignments in Vietnam. Diversity in culture was preparing him for a calling in global missions.
His military service ended in 1979, when he retired at the rank of Major. Along the way, Dick studied at Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, and completed his bachelor degree with Campbell University in 1980.
He taught in high schools for many years, and Manna Church became the family’s place of worship. Dick served in many capacities, including a role as an elder of the church. Feeling a desire to be better equipped, Dick completed a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies with Regent University.
Unexpectedly, the Lord called Dick and Judy to teach English to students in northwest China for a year. Formal roles in missions work then followed. For a time, Dick served with the organization that prepared and placed them as teachers in China. In 1994, Michael Fletcher asked Dick to return to Fayetteville to become Missions Coordinator for an association of like-minded churches in North Carolina and Virginia. His efforts resulted in coordinating churches to adopt people groups in the “10/40 Window,” as well as in assisting Romanian churches toward growth in a post-cold war environment. These experiences uniquely prepared Dick to serve as the Missions Pastor for Manna Church until 2007.
Serving in Education for World Missions
Soon thereafter, Dr. Steve Crowther asked Dick to serve as Vice President of Administration for Grace College of Divinity. For the next five years he was busy helping the college achieve accreditation, establish a Veteran Services Office, and attain eligibility for student loans. Stepping away from an administrative role in 2012, Dick continues to teach GCD courses in World Religions and Missions.
According to Judy, Dick has several items proudly displayed in his home office: framed degrees from Campbell University and Regent University as well as a plaque from GCD acknowledging him as 2013 Faculty Member of the Year. Dick’s academic training and life experiences formed a heart for world missions as well as insight into what it means to share one’s faith in a culture not one’s own.
My husband, Clayton, is a retired service member and we’ve lived in Fayetteville for more than 20 years. We’ve been members of Manna for about 12 years.
What made you decide to take classes at GCD?
Off and on, I’d hear about the college, but at that time, the college was not accredited. As I raised our four sons, I had taken courses – a class here and there. Once GCD became accredited, I felt the leading of the Lord that this was where He wanted me to be. I enrolled in the Bachelor of Divinity program in the fall of 2012. Five years later, I joyously walked across the stage at Manna EP – tears running down my face! I began working toward my Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree the following semester and I am loving it!
Can you give some examples of ways your experience with GCD has prepared you to fulfill your calling?
My classes at GCD, especially those in Christian Leadership, have provided me with skills to more effectively lead at Manna Church’s EP Site. I’ve been in leadership for more than ten years on the SERVE team there and I consider it an honor to minister alongside my extended family at Manna EP and to be involved in training emerging leaders.
Recently my master’s curriculum has afforded me the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant in the classroom. Once I have completed this degree, the dream would be to fulfill the calling on my life to instruct at the undergrad level.
What tips could you offer a new student at GCD?
A life statement of mine is: “All that I Do is Ministry.” All that we do throughout our lives should be ministry as unto the Lord. With this in mind, we should definitely guard our lives, guard our mouths – I especially have to remind myself of this – and present our whole being as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, daily.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience with GCD?
I consider it a great honor to be a student here at Grace College of Divinity. I love being in the classroom. As I interact with ‘young minds,’ it keeps my ‘older mind’ sharp – at least I would like to think so!
What would you say to a person who is thinking about attending GCD?
Do it! It doesn’t matter how old you are. You’re never too young; you’re never too old! I’m so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be a student throughout my lifetime. He encourages me to always remain a lifelong learner, to constantly enrich my life on the foundation of His Word, and to continue to serve His body with all the skills that He has entrusted to me.
Adam Terry is a first year student at Grace College of Divinity. He is currently an Experience Intern at Manna Church. He He enjoys ballroom dancing and philosophical debates. He is currently spending his time at GCD seeking God and redeveloping a foundation of faith.
Do you go the extra mile? I know this is usually the example that Christ used for us when other people make demands of us. That is not today’s focus though. Serving and loving people is important, but the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart.
Love has no limits. What does our love for God actually look like though? Most of us as Christians have a devotional life where we spend time with God. Love is shown through sacrifice. How much do we really sacrifice for God out of love? Honestly, when I think of Christians sacrificing for God it is because we have to. We can set aside a little time for God in the morning or evening, but have I limited my love for God?
David was a man who loved God with a reckless abandon. When I look at David’s life I see him spending time with God, but I do not see him setting limits on his relationship with God. David goes above and beyond to please God. David does not just go the extra mile, David is determined to run to God until he reaches him. We should chase God without holding back!
I believe that many of us think about our relationship with God in a box. What do I have to do today to not lose my blessings and fall away? We should wake up and think, how can I please my heavenly Father today? When I start to think that way, new ideas of serving, loving, and worshipping fill my mind. My motivation to have devotions is my love for the Father. Devotions are a means to an end they are not the end. If I am going to worship God to the best of my ability I cannot put restraints on how much time and energy I am going to spend on Him. Loving God is not stopping at the extra mile. Loving God is the endless journey with Him into eternity.
Meet our student spotlight of the week, Adam Yow.
Fight For Peace Talent Showcase
As the new year comes around people will be talking about their resolutions. Other people will talk about the new year bringing peace. Manna Church set out to achieve peace when they hosted the 2nd Annual Fight For Peace Talent Showcase.
Manna Church in conjunction with theExperience interns hosted an event on December 4th to combat the rising teen violence. This event had 13 students from different high schools come out to audition for a chance to win a prize. The acts ranged from singing, spoken word, to highland dancing. Several of the students had written their own songs for the performance.
The winners were: Sofia Perez, who sang and performed an original song, won third place and a prize of $100, second place and $200 went to Emagen, a dancing duo who did a comedy dance skit inspired by the Les Twins duo, and in first place was Ian with a spoken word won $300.
(Sofia Perez third place winner)
This event was created to bring awareness to the teen violence happening in the Fayetteville and Cape Fear Region.
GCD students, who are part of the Experience internship which partners with Manna Church, helped facilitate and execute the event. There were also two students who represented the Fayetteville Cumberland Youth Council. These students, Ashley and Makala, spoke against bullying in the schools. Ashley also helped form an anti bullying committee within the council.
The Talent Showcase was a chance for students and families to get together for one night to learn about teen violence and to have a night of fun. This event was perfect for the coming year as the Fayetteville region continues its battle with teen violence and its cry for peace.
TheExperience Internship and TheExperience Weekend
This is an internship designed to equip students to change the world through faith, character, and leadership skills. This internship combines academics and practical leadership experience. Every intern will choose a track getting specialized training and experience within a specific field.
TheExperience Internship offers a Certificate of Christian Leadership upon graduation. If desired, the intern may come back for a second year and obtain an Associate’s Degree of Christian Leadership. The Certificate is a year-long program and provides 11 Courses (30 credit hours), the Associate’s is a two year-long program and provides 22 Courses (60 credit hours).
Both years provide the following:
– Annual International Mission Trips
– National Leaders Conferences
– Weekly Mentoring Meetings with Pastor Michael Fletcher
– Domestic Trips and Outreaches
– Spiritual Growth & Biblical Teaching
– Character Development
– Individualized Teaching
– Specialized Training
– Practical Leadership Experience
The intern will build life-giving relationships with fellow interns and participating in the following activities:
– International Missions Trip
– Team Workouts
– Group Outings
– Family Nights
– Road Trips
– Monthly Student Events
– Lifelong Friendships
Worship and Fine Arts: This track is focused on those who feel that are called to be worship leaders, graphic designers, videographers, dancers, sound engineers, etc. The interns will be developing their talent in the ministry field. Audition and interview required.
Outreach & Missions: This track is focused on those who feel called to reach the global community through long-term and short-term missions, evangelism, and community outreaches. Interview required.
Leadership: This track equips the interns in the finer areas of leadership and offer unique opportunities to develop advanced leadership skills. Interns are evaluated in specific areas of practical leadership based on their personal calling and life goals.
Want to be an Intern?
Come to our next event TheExperience Weekend November 13th and 14th. Here you will meet the staff and current interns while getting all the information you need to know about the internship. We will talk about academics, leadership opportunities, track options, internship schedule, student life, scholarships and various financial aid options. Representatives of TheExperience, Manna Church, and Grace College of Divinity will be present to answer any questions. For more information about theExperience Weekend, call or email Anne Fletcher to email@example.com or 910-849-9464.