April Phillips - Practical Theology
Classes at Southeastern taught 2005 grad April Phillips not only the technical knowledge she needed to spread the word of God, but also the enthusiasm and the heart.
"My classes taught me the background I needed to do ministry," said Phillips, who majored in church ministries at Southeastern. Phillips felt called to the ministry early in life. Two professors in particular helped Phillips realize God's plan for her. Professor of Religion Dr. Steven M. Fettke taught classes on the book of Jeremiah. From him, Phillips learned that just reading the Bible is not enough. He encouraged her to examine each word and put every book into context, recognizing the audience it was written for. This deep understanding was invaluable in her outreach work at Oceanway Assembly of God in Jacksonville, Florida. Even after she graduated from Southeastern, Phillips e-mailed Dr. Fettke for advice when a particular passage gave her trouble.
Phillips also keeps in touch with a former Southeastern missions professor. In his classes, Phillips' passion for spreading her faith came alive. The professor set an example she followed. "[He] made God real and undeniable... [The professor] definitely put that fire in there that we have to go everywhere and teach about Jesus," she said.
Outside of classes, Phillips found many ways to share her faith. Even though she wasn't a music major, she joined the worship choir and enjoyed the opportunity to occasionally lead worship at chapel. She also joined an outreach group her freshman year and worked with people who were homeless in the inner city. It was great experience and practice for her professional work in inner city children's ministry.
Phillips learned of Southeastern in high school from her youth pastor, an alumnus of Southeastern. During visits to Southeastern, Phillips was impressed by the student body. She felt instantly connected to the students' focus and drive. "People were real and there to grow closer to God and find the purpose God wanted," Phillips said. Attending Southeastern forced her to examine her faith and herself. Phillips said she feels she is a better person for being tested. "It made me grow up," Phillips said, "and be my own Christian."