Dr. JK Jones
The Master of Arts in Christian Ministry program at Friends University found me, rather than me finding it. Back in 1990, I was looking for a doctoral program but wasn't locating anything that seemed to fit me. At the time I was teaching at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. I was hungry for a program of study that would combine spiritual formation with sound theological grounding. I was searching for something that would bring together excellent scholarship with a concern for practical ministry. I can’t explain exactly how I started working on a second master’s degree, but there was just something about what I found at Friends that kept me driving back and forth, four hours each way, for two and a half years! I’m currently professor of Christian ministries at Lincoln Christian College and Seminary and the preaching minister at the Jefferson Street Christian Church in Lincoln, Illinois. My academic journey, since being at Friends University, has included many more miles, but none as satisfying to my heart, mind and soul like my brief time in Wichita.
Heath W. Belcher
The experience I had in the Friends Master of Arts in Christian Ministry program is the most profound spiritual and educational experience I have had in my life, and I thank God daily I was able to participate.
I did not enter into the M.A.C.M. program as an experienced Christian. I had given my life to Christ only a year or so prior and was seeking knowledge as to what all that meant. I knew I did not fancy myself a minister, pastor or clergy of any sort, so the M.A.C.M. program was a bit odd for me at first. After my first course with Dr. James Smith (Spiritual Formation), I learned quickly that this program was not just another exercise in academia, but an experience in relationships between students and teachers, students and each other, but most importantly, between all of us and God through Jesus Christ.
I never anticipated using my M.A.C.M. degree for professional purposes. God had something different in mind. Everyone has a continued ministry of Christ in store for them, if they are seeking. Mine wound up being a position as president/CEO for a faith-based substance abuse treatment company, ministering to those for whom substances have taken a tremendous physical, mental, spiritual and emotional toll. We are repairing families, mending hearts and restoring souls through the love of Christ. I thank Dr. Kettler and the rest of the M.A.C.M. faculty for helping nurture my faith to this point, and pray God grants you continued success in your ministry!
The call to ministry had been present in my life for a long time. I had considered going to seminary, even took classes there, but never felt called to be a pastor of a church, which is the focus of most seminaries. I was trying to discern my call when the opportunity to be part of the newly formed Master of Arts in Christian Ministry program presented itself in 1988. I had already been a hospital chaplain for six years when I entered the program, but I needed a master’s degree in a field related to a seminary degree to apply for certification as a chaplain. I was able to work for Via Christi Medical Center as a staff chaplain and have my tuition subsidized by them. After receiving my degree, I went through the certification process required by the Association of Professional Chaplains to become board-certified, a position that allows me to be employed as a Presbyterian chaplain endorsed by my church. Today I work as the hospice chaplain for Curry County Home Health and Hospice in Brookings, Oregon. I believe the quality of education I received at Friends was excellent and specifically designed to my needs.