Hey!  My name is Chandler Petray.  I am twenty-three years old, and was born and raised in the Fort Smith area, Arkansas.  I enjoy music, fixing things, computers, and nature.  This year, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (UAFS) in May, got married in August at Mount Magazine State Park, and moved to Seattle, Washington in September.  Needless to say, this has been a very exciting year for me and my newlywed wife, Briana.

Why Seattle?

Briana and I both grew up together in Arkansas.  Moving to Seattle was a big change for us: the weather (houses have no AC?!?!), culture, politics, amount of people, traffic, cost of living, religion, diversity, you get the idea.  It practically feels like a different country, that just happens to speak English and fall under the domain of the federal government.

The reason we moved to Seattle was for my new apprenticeship at Sojourn campus ministry.  Sojourn has been serving the University of Washington (UW) campus since 2017, empowering students to live like Jesus.  Founded and still under the leadership of Daniel and Holly Jarchow.

During my undergraduate years at UAFS my life was changed by Lion’s For Christ (LFC) campus ministry, headed by Cade Richards.  I learned what the Gospel meant for me (salvation), and what I should do in response to it (glorifying God).  Towards the end of my stay at UAFS, I felt a calling and a desire to continue helping college students come to God.  With the help and advice from Cade, Briana, best friend Zac Wolfe, and roommate Ben Sherer, and many more, I decided coming out to Seattle to do a two-year apprenticeship with Sojourn was what was best for me.

What I Anticipate Learning: 

1. Different Environment of the Pacific Northwest: Seattle

A year ago, before I knew of this apprenticeship, if someone asked me what I knew about Seattle, I would have told them: Space Needle; lots of rain; big-tech; music; drug, housing, mental health issues; very liberal; beautiful nature; and “that’s where the Seahawks are from, right?”  

About this time last year, when Chris Buxton was helping me get connected to campus ministries looking for apprentices, I specified that I wanted to move to an area away from the Bible belt of the Southeastern United States, for I knew it would give me a greater learning experience in how to do ministry.  The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is about as far away as you can get from the Bible belt and remain in the United States.

2. Switching From a Spiritual Consumer to Contributor

During my time at UAFS, I was a student-leader in the LFC campus ministry.  I would help plan/lead events, answer questions in group studies, and be an active member.  However, the shift from student leader to apprentice can’t be overstated, and having to learn how to be a teacher/leader is a big responsibility.  When I was a college student, my time at the ministry was my time with God.  Now I need time that is set apart to just be with God, rather than just the time spent studying for upcoming events, and time with Briana and God.  It’s important to keep growing closer to God individually, but it has proved to be a difficult adjustment.  
Another shift I am experiencing is in group discussion.  In the past, I had no problem speaking, and would answer most questions thrown up during a discussion if no one answered.  However, in my role now, I am letting the students answer most of the time, and discovering the knowledge of the scripture for themselves.  My goal is to get to the point where in my answering, I don’t just slam-dunk the question, but I set it up, trying to help stimulate the conversation so that a student can slam-dunk it.

3. Biblical Knowledge, Books, and Application

The goal of a campus ministry apprenticeship first and foremost, is to develop knowledge, skills, and experience to help become the best minister of Christ I can be.  One very important development area is knowledge about scripture, truths, and other Christian topics.  I grew up in a Christian household, but didn’t start seriously reading my Bible until just a few years ago.  There’s still many books and scripture that I have yet to read, so I have been reading what hasn’t been read yet.  Besides the word of God, there’s other resources to use as tools too.  I have been reading some Christian books recommended to me, and just this past week I started a new one to help with our current Bible study group for the undergraduates, The Greco-Roman World of The New Testament Era by James S. Jeffers. 

I believe as a Christian it’s important to be well versed in scripture, and have pocket-verses to help ourselves, as well as those we are ministering to.  Doing Kairos’s DiscoveryLabs has helped me tremendously with understanding what tools, knowledge, and skills a minister needs to be effective.  Some ministry skills I would like to learn are how to read text not just for myself, but how it could help those I minister to.  Another is making it easier to digest or tailored to what the people need.

Thanks For Reading!

I hope you learned more about me, and my passion for campus ministry.  I just started this two-year apprenticeship in September, so I still have a long way to go.  However, I feel like I have already come so far this year.  I hope other churches or organizations will create apprenticeship programs or seek out applicants, for this is one of the best ways to figure out if vocational ministry is the right choice for someone.  You can find me on Facebook, and here’s my email if you want to reach out or have any questions:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.” (Philippians 4:23)

Chandler Petray is an Apprentice with Sojourn Campus Ministry at the University of Washington.