By John Rust. Originally published in PHC Herald, 9/23/11.
Patrick Henry College
Jacob Baum (CLA, '10 - right) helps lead worship at Guilford Baptist Church.
Safely inside, they pull off their hoods. Jonathan Jero, Rebecca “Tella” Sampayan, and PHC alumnus John Vinci are there to set up Guilford Baptist Church’s portable stage equipment in just a few short hours.
They are mostly used to this weekly routine. Their work isn’t easy, but it offers a healthy distraction from the pressures of school.
For many students, serving in a local church is a means to become involved in the local community. With dozens of churches of all sizes in the northern Virginia area, the opportunities to serve are many and diverse.
“Service is non-negotiable,” says Resident Director and alumnus Jensen Near. “You can’t just spend four years here on campus and not be involved in the community, especially the church.”
Guilford Baptist Church functions each week thanks to the help of over a dozen PHC students and alumni who regularly volunteer their time and resources. The audiovisual ministry is almost exclusively run by students, and the children’s ministry sees a regular cycle of student volunteers.
In fact, the church administration is overseen by alumni Jacob Baum (‘10) and Craig Drinkall (‘08). Baum, who serves as a pastoral assistant, was introduced to Guilford his first Sunday at college. He quickly joined the church and found himself actively involved in ministry and worship by his sophomore year.
“I was in class one evening and [a member of the church] left me a voicemail asking if I could lead music the following Sunday,” Baum recalled. “That was a big induction into the church.”
For the rest of his PHC career, Baum regularly served on the church worship team, eventually interning at the church the summer before his senior year. When it came time to search for a job after his graduation, the church offered him a full-time ministry position.
Alumni Stephen Williams ('11) and Luke Krmpotich ('10) serve in worship at Guilford Baptist Church.
Across town, students also serve at Blue Ridge Bible Church’s AWANA program each Sunday evening. AWANA, which teaches children Scripture memory and application, has become a popular service opportunity for many students.
Junior Rebecca Hobbs has served in AWANA for a year and a half. “I really enjoy working with children,” she said, “and AWANA is a great way to get away from school.”
“It offers a different perspective,” she said. “You spend most of your time in college with your peers, and there’s little interaction with others. When I’m doing AWANA, I’m working with kids in a whole new environment, and it’s so much fun.”
Students gifted with musical abilities have often found joy in serving on worship teams and bands. Near has served as a drummer at Cornerstone Chapel for over four years.
“I started going there, heard that they needed a drummer, and I signed up,” he said. “I’ve been serving when I can since then.”
“Here at PHC, we are ‘the church,’” Near said. “There’s a lot of incentive to serve when you hear your friends talking about it during the week, more than just hearing an announcement on Sunday morning.”
“College is a selfish time,” he explained, “in which you focus on your time, your desires, your priorities, etc. Spending four years like this is very dangerous. We need to go out and serve, and imitate Christ in doing so.”
Serving at church is a time commitment that only takes a couple hours each Sunday. The Guilford stage crew serves until 2 p.m., when they repack each piece of equipment and load the crates back into the trailer. Satisfied with a job well-done, Sampayan, Jero, and the other volunteers head to Chipotle for lunch before returning to studying for the coming week.
The four years at PHC provide students with dozens of service opportunities in the local church that they choose to attend. Through such service, students have found their vocation, been strengthened in their faith, and even earned internship credits and found jobs.
“PHC is an artificial environment that’s going to be totally different than the next 40 years of your life,” said Baum. “Church, however, will be the next 40 years of your life.”