There are some people who seem to “randomly” stumble upon Grace Christian University – like a few of my former classmates who found the Grace during an internet search or through a newspaper ad. My journey took a different path, as I had been aware of Grace from the before I even knew what a college was. Aside from having parents who are both alumnus, my home church (Berean Bible Church in Seattle) was committed to not only support the school, but also promoting it and I can vividly remember concerts from the Grace Singers and summer camps put on by the basketball team being held at Berean. So, when it came time for me to apply to college, all of these experiences played a role in my decision.
I started in the fall of 2003 and spent the next five years immersed in the Grace Experience. My time was a bit unique as I spent every semester living in Preston Hall – serving as an RA for two years and living in the apartment for my final semester after returning from my internship. Anyone who has spent even a small amount of time living in the Grace dorms knows how fun (and sometimes distracting!) it can be and I’m glad I was able to “prolong” that experience. Not only was it great to be a part of such a close community, but my time in a leadership role helped me to begin to apply some of the skills and information I was learning in the classroom as I pursued my pastoral degree. I was able to build relationships with the other students while learning to how to enforce that fine line between having fun and having too much fun (something that many have had to experience in order to fully learn!). Like all college students, I look back at those five years as a substantial growth period in my life and much of that is a result of my time in Preston Hall.
After graduating, I was hired as the associate pastor of Celebration Bible Church in Grandville – just a short drive from Grace. I’ve been here since 2008 and have spent the last three years as the senior pastor of this gracious, loving and exciting congregation. My wife Natalie (who also attended Grace) and I live in Grandville and continue to be involved in the college as I help to teach one of Dr. Long’s Bible 101 sections and am also enrolled in the recently added Master’s of Ministry degree. As the students in my congregation begin to think about higher education, I always recommend Grace as a place where they can gain the knowledge and experience to truly make an impact in their world.
– Jim Shemaria