East Texas Baptist University hosted its seventh annual conference calling on Wednesday, October 20 for ETBU students who are drawn to vocations ministry. The conference gave students a better understanding of how to identify and pursue their callings with opportunities to learn from experienced ministry professionals.
Guest speakers Dr. Julio Guarneri, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, Texas; Christopher Dickey, Chaplain and Army War College Fellow at the University of Notre Dame; as well as Texas Baptist General Convention (BGCT) leaders Tom Tillman, director of music and worship; Cory Liebrum, Youth and Family Ministry Specialist; Jennifer Howington, Children’s Ministry Specialist; and Erica Harnisch, deputy director of Go Now missions, shared their wisdom and experience with the participants.
“I’m a mission mobilizer, which means there’s a lot of detail, planning, and checkboxes, and sometimes those can get overwhelming,” Harnisch said. “So I always come back to the Great Commission and remember the reason why I do what I do. It’s because God called us to go and make disciples. So my advice is to remember that the picture is so much bigger than what we do individually. It’s about making His Kingdom grow.
While the call conference is intended for students who feel drawn to vocation ministry, it also provides an opportunity for students who may feel drawn to ministry but are still unsure of their future career path. Dr Guarneri was fortunate enough to address the entire ETBU student body at the weekly University Chapel service, where he encouraged them to see themselves as disciples, regardless of their background. chosen profession.
“Jesus is not going to Jerusalem, the center of religious life and culture, to call on the Jews,” Dr Guarneri said. “He doesn’t go to the best synagogues in the area to find the trained rabbis. He does not go to the educated and the elite among the Jews. He goes to the beach to call the fishermen, the common people, the blue collar workers of the time. This is what Jesus first calls as His disciples. Ordinary people, ordinary people. People who have jobs, people with families, people who have difficulties, people with a past, people who don’t have everything together, people with hopes and dreams, people like you and me.
After the chapel, attendees attended a lunch, where they heard the panel of guests in a question-and-answer style conversation.
“I really liked the way Dr. Guarneri specified the different ways that God calls you and that not everyone is going to have a great time,” said Audrey Blaha, first year psychology student. “It really opened my eyes to the idea that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. I am looking for ways to pursue my vocation in my profession. I really want to do counseling, so the conference call helps me understand exactly what my calling is and how I can use it in my profession.