Some graduating seniors are trading in paychecks and cubicles for evangelization and the gospel.
Peter Nielsen, Jessica Pimpo and Devin Smith, among others, have decided to take an unconventional route after graduation. All three have a goal of spreading the word of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Nielsen will be taking his efforts to Paris.
“We’ll just go and hang out with students and just talk about life basically with the purpose of hopefully being able to share about Christ and to share about the gospel essentially,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen chose Paris because he said it’s a city in need of some sort of faith base.
“Within like the entire population, it’s something like between 4 to 6 percent attend church regularly, so that means like 94 percent have basically no interest in established religion,” Nielsen said. “Most people in France would identify as being atheist or agnostic or a skeptic.”
Nielsen had a job offer for post-graduation after he completed a semester-long internship. After deciding to take on the ministry opportunity in France, he had to explain his conflict. However, Nielsen said his future employer was understanding about the circumstances.
“I talked with (my employer), explained what we’d be doing (in Paris) and my interest in that and they were super flexible and they just said, ‘Whenever you get back, you can start your job,’” Nielsen said.
Sophomore Amber Dorneman said she doesn’t think all companies would be as flexible as the one Nielsen plans to work for.
“If I was willing to hire someone and they declined my offer, I would be upset because I knew they could be beneficial to our company,” Dorneman said.
Vanessa Walsh, coordinator of retreats, special projects, and communication for Campus Ministry, said the best time to do mission work is after graduation.
“When you graduate from college there’s a transition period in your life that if you feel called to do volunteer work, that’s a great time to do it instead of being in the middle of the work force and then leaving the workforce,” Walsh said.
Pimpo and Smith won’t be going quite as far as Nielsen for their ministry work. Pimpo will be stationed in South Carolina with an organization called “Campus Outreach.” She became involved through her church, Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis.
“I’m helping to equip believers to learn how to study their Bible and how to learn what it means to have Christian relationships and also learning what it means to share your faith,” Pimpo said. “We do beach evangelism, so we go on the beach and just talk to people and ask them like if they’re interested in talking to us about religion.”
Although Pimpo is getting married in the fall, she and her fiancé both think the work will be beneficial for their marriage.
“We’re going to be separated for two months while being engaged and planning a wedding, so it’ll be harder for that,” Pimpo said. “We both have agreed that we think it’s the best thing for our marriage.”
Pimpo was also offered a job as an elementary school social worker for after graduation. Like Nielson, she will be able to start after her ministry work.
Smith is still fundraising for his trip, but he’ll be working with the same program as Pimpo. However, he plans to stay more local.
“My hope is to stay here at St. Thomas and be with the Campus Outreach club here at St. Thomas, but it’s also at a few different schools here in the Twin Cities so I could go to one of those other places like the (University of Minnesota), Bethel or Northwestern,” Smith said.
Spreading the gospel after graduation was not on Smith’s agenda when he first came to St. Thomas.
“I came to college and my entire intention was to get a degree, make the easiest six-figure salary I could, and live comfortably for the rest of my life,” Smith said. “Two years ago, the gospel of Jesus Christ really sidelined any of my desires, and I became a Christian.”
Now, Smith can’t think of anything else he’d rather do.
“God has moved in my life and has moved in other people’s lives in front of me,” Smith said. “Since I’ve been involved in ministry, I’ve gotten to see this gospel change other people’s lives. I can’t imagine doing something different for the rest of my life.”
Kayla Bengtson can be reached at Beng2004@stthomas.edu.