My journey into ministry began in my teens when, as a lonely teenager I happened across a flyer from Gateway College of Evangelism. In the flyer were pictures of students in class, during times of recreation and fellowship and during choir outings ministering in churches. I kept this flyer in a special, safe place and would pull it out daily, memorizing the pictures and captions. I felt as though I knew the people pictured even though I had never met them. Without doubt I knew “The Place To Be,” as the caption on the flyer stated, was where I wanted to be, where I had to be.
But my journey would be difficult. No one in my family had ever gone to college, nor had anyone ever served in a ministry role. My parents were divorced and I was a lonely, shy teenager trying to finish high school with very few dreams for the future other than getting a job and working to find my way in the world. I held on to the Gateway flyer, however, and when I was 19 I made the decision to attend Gateway. I had no money and no plan, but I took the leap alone with a promise from my mother to send money for necessities when she could. I remember moving into the dorms, locking myself in my room and crying for hours from homesickness and fear. I’ll never forget the student, Kathy Lee from Arkansas, who knocked on my door and drew me out of my shell, taking me down to the cafeteria where she bought me a soda and introduced me to the other students. I instantly loved them all and knew I had made the right decision.
To say my journey through Gateway was difficult would be an understatement. I was a good student and did well academically, but finances were another story. I worked in the kitchen and taught some piano lessons to pay my school bill, but constantly came up short. I remember one time when I was being threatened with dismissal over my unpaid school bill. I took my bill to the prayer room, knelt down and literally laid it before the Lord. I told him, “Lord, I am your child, so this is your bill.” On the way to the kitchen to work I checked my mail and there I found a miracle: someone had paid my bill, leaving a small balance that would be easily covered by my next paycheck from the kitchen.
From that day until graduation, I pressed on still not knowing for sure what I would do after graduation. God blessed me again with a full-time position as a music minister which I held for one year before returning to Gateway to teach full-time where I have been since, training other students for music-related ministry careers. Who knew this little, nameless girl from a broken family could ever have ended up teaching at the very school in that worn flyer from so long ago? Since then I have completed master’s degrees in music and theology and am now pursuing a PhD. What I am sure of is this: the rest of my journey will likely be as elusive as the beginning; the way will not be easy, but I cling to the promise that he who began this “good work” in me (Phil 1:6) will be faithful to complete it, in His way and in His time which are always perfect.
Copryright 2014 Ann Ahrens
Rev. Ann Ahrens, MA, M.Div. is a licensed minister with the UPCI. She currently is the director of Music at Urshan College and works with students on a daily basis to help them with their ministry and God-given callings. Sister Ahrens is also an alumnus from Urshan Graduate School of Theology, and is currently working on her PhD. We are blessed to have this wonderful woman in leadership in our movement, and we honor her for her many years of mentoring and service as she has changed the lives of hundreds of ministers within our movement.