Thanks for being interested in how God is using us to reach college students. But how did Trista and I ever meet or get involved with college students to begin with? We would love to share with you.
I was an R.A. at the University of Northern Iowa my junior year in Dancer Hall from 2009-2010. Mid way through the year Trista replaced another R.A. on our staff for the spring semester. I still remember coming down the elevator to start our staff training and seeing “the replacement” and thinking she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen.
Long story short but we were dating by the end of that semester. I remember one time where some friends asked me to go play disc golf with them. I told them I was busy only for them to see 10 minutes later teaching Trista how to throw a frisbee on campus haha. It was that moment they knew I liked her a lot.
The summer of 2010 we both went to Jacksonville, Florida with The Navigators for the summer. We worked jobs and were in a bible study with other students from the midwest while staying in a dorm at the University of North Florida. It was an awesome atmosphere to continue dating centered around fellowship with other believers and growing in our walks with Christ.
It wasn’t too long after that I proposed (February 2011) and later that fall we got married (October 22nd). That was a pretty crazy time as Trista was still in school finishing her degree and I was completing our fundraising so we could be on campus with The Navs in January. God provided big time for us by giving us free housing right next to campus through the church we were going to.
When I came to UNI as a freshmen I got involved with The Navs there pretty quickly. I loved their passion for the Word of God and the people I met there (many whom became some lifelong friends). As much as I enjoyed the ministry I remember thinking there was no way I would want to be in full-time ministry. I didn’t have much clear direction with my major but I felt inadequate, insecure, and unskilled at thought of leading a campus ministry full-time.
During my senior year of college I was leading a Bible study and discipling another student named Aaron. Aaron grew a lot that year as we read the Bible together, memorized scripture, and shared the gospel. Seeing God use me in that way and become really good friends with Aaron is what really got me excited about full-time college ministry after school. Other things contributed to that as well but this was one of the biggest things. Funny how God can change things over just 3 years?!
Not too long after Trista and I started dating, she got quite involved with The Nav ministry and was being discipled by a lady on staff, Kate Nelson. Trista saw how Katie was able to be a mom and wife and also minister to college students. While Trista was growing a lot in her own faith, she was getting excited about doing college ministry after school. So when we got engaged and talked about doing this together, God really had unified in this ministry together. Although it was a lot of change and a hard transition from us getting married, to Trista graduating, and to us starting ministry on campus together… we’ve loved it and look back and see God’s faithfulness every step of the way.
We did ministry with The Navigators at UNI for 2.5 years while on EDGE Corps. During this time we started our family first with a miniature dachshund and soon after Benaiah was born. We moved the summer of 2014 to Fort Collins, Colorado and did ministry at Colorado State for 2 years. The twins were born there and we felt like it was time to get rid of our puppy because of all the kids (a hard decision at the time but the right one). After completing our “official training” with The Navs as Staff in Training, we moved the summer of 2016 to Manhattan, KS as Nav Reps anticipating baby #4 to be born in August.
We are excited for this next phase of life and ministry to begin. The moves are always hard but there is a lot we look forward to as well. Being close to our immediate family in Iowa is a major plus to see them more often and have some regular help with the kids. There will also be some great opportunities for me with the K-State Navs ministry to help train other staff and give some oversight to the ministry as a whole.