Cody Daniels ’25 was lost.
Not geographically; he lived in Cambridge, Ohio—where he knew the back roads from his career in pizza delivery.
Not spiritually; Cody had been a Christian since he was young.
But being a worship pastor in a pandemic made him question everything. He felt lost.
THE RIGHT DIRECTION
“I told God, I’m an open book. You can write whatever You want on it.”
Having pastors for parents, Cody felt an early pull to ministry. He shared the gospel with his high school classmates, and when he graduated, he went to a local Christian university and majored in intercultural studies. But soon, he felt it wasn’t the place for him.
“I noticed a lack of spiritual energy in the school,” Cody says. “It was just really discouraging.”
He didn’t finish the school year. That summer he counseled and led worship at Joy of Living Camp in Brinkhaven, Ohio, where he sensed God’s call to ministry. Then the actual phone rang. It was a longtime friend, a pastor at Cambridge Nazarene Church, asking him to lead worship.
Eager to begin ministry, Cody accepted, unaware of the discouragement ahead.
“I felt so alone,” Cody says. “There were nights when I went home and cried, and there were nights when I went home and I was mad.”
His excitement for innovative ministry was met with quarantines and canceled events. Nothing happened. Nobody was around. And he felt a deep loneliness and dejection.
“I questioned God: Why would You send me here? Why would You do this?”
As Cody wrestled with doubt and despair, he realized it only affirmed his passion for ministry.
“I saw through every single one of those moments that there was four times—no, ten times—as many moments where I was just so happy to be in ministry.”
That year showed Cody his strengths, but also what was missing.
“For me to continue in my ministry, I needed education. I needed guidance.”
Searching first on Google, Cody saw an ad for Grace Christian University. He clicked, and soon Dr. Jason Werkema called and offered a virtual tour.
“I could see God’s presence coming out of him,” Cody says. “And I’ve noticed that from so many people here . . . It’s a small college, but they put so much time into the students.”
“Cody has a heart to lead others in worship,” Dr. Werkema, dean of the School of Music, Worship, and Technology, says. “His love for the Lord is genuine, and he is growing in his knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. These characteristics are vital for anyone seeking to serve others as a worship leader. Cody is the real deal and we are very grateful he chose Grace to pursue his education.”
“I’ve enjoyed every second. I wake up excited to go to my classes, to get into the Bible,” Cody says. “I get to become closer to God in those moments . . . and it prepares me for being a pastor.”
Cody’s passionate about leading worship and pastoring, but he’s not sure what’s next. Maybe writing, recording, and producing his own music. Maybe giving lessons. Anything that keeps him in music. But he knows that wherever God leads, he won’t be lost. Just ask him; he’ll answer:
“My name is Cody Daniels, and I am found in Christ.”
Every single class revolves around God, and it prepares me for being a pastor in the future.
Cody Daniels ’25
Emily Gehman is a Grace faculty member and managing editor of The Journey.
Photography and videography by Darrell Goemaat