Because of Seminary...
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By his own estimation, J.D. Herrera is an unlikely theology student. He grew up in south Florida where he was told he wasn’t cut out for seminary. “I was one of thousands of Latino kids in Miami,” says J.D., where “it was more likely that we would not be able to graduate high school than it was we’d become preachers.” But through the encouragement of his parents who recognized his gifts for leadership, he became a youth pastor, and in 2010 he enrolled in Austin Seminary.
In his work with youth, J.D. puts into practice what he is learning in the classroom. “I have youth who are seniors in high school and are wrestling with their own calls … Being able to take prayer practices or discernment exercises—using some of the things that we’ve learned from the textbook—and hand those to them has been a real blessing and something that has added to my ministry program.”
This past year J.D. led a discernment process with a small group of youth in his congregation. One teenager in particular was struggling with a decision about whether to go to college immediately upon graduation or spend some time doing mission work. Through six weeks of meeting as a group, listening to and praying for each other, they each realized their paths. “I gave them a tool they could use ... that they can look back and say, ‘When I was seventeen, I had an experience where I really prayed something out and came to a decision I was happy with. And now when I come to a fork in the road, I can go back to what I’ve done before. I can find my faith community, find my small group, and we can pray and work through this discernment process.’ As a youth pastor that’s what you hope to be able to give them—something that, ten years down the road, they can use.”
At Austin Seminary, J.D. and other students are engaged in study and reflection that prepare them to step out and help others navigate their sometimes complex and confusing lives. The resources required—credentialed faculty who are experts in the subjects they teach; housing, classrooms, and library facilities; and scholarship assistance—are made possible through the financial support of faithful men and women who value what well-trained Christian leaders can offer the world.