A Timely Answer to Prayer – How Grace Seminary in Akron is Meeting Needs and Changing Lives
The path was clear for John Bowen. He had it all figured out; he would graduate with an engineering degree from the University of Akron and pursue an engineering internship that would set him up for a full-time position. This path would ensure job security, status, a solid paycheck and most likely, an early retirement. He would be set for life.
“Engineering was something I stumbled into on the advice of multiple family members and high school teachers,” said Bowen. “I did well in my math and science courses and I always liked to build and create things. They thought I would be a natural at it, so I took their suggestions and started my engineering career after I graduated in 2016.”
Unfortunately, Bowen’s plan wasn’t quite adding up as he had expected. The truth was after he began his classes, he realized he didn’t like engineering as much as he had hoped he would. He recognized that he had spent much of his time asking the question: What am I going to do with my life? When instead, he should have been asking: What do you want for me, Lord?
As John came to these realizations, it came time to decide to pursue an engineering internship or hold off for another semester and instead take an internship with Shoulder to Shoulder (STS), a ministry in Mazatlán, Mexico, dedicated to serving and empowering the local church through relationships.
“Part of their ministry includes hosting US missions teams to provide extra hands and feet to assist in relationships the local churches are building,” said Bowen. “Whether that be through constructing a house for one of the congregation’s widows in need, investing in kids through a VBS, visiting with families to pray with them, or providing resource materials for pastors and youth leaders, STS wants to empower the local Mazatlán churches to be lighthouses in their community for Jesus.”
Once John got connected with STS, he knew that ministry was where his passion was. But with part of his engineering degree under his belt, he wasn’t sure exactly what to do next.
“I was praying for a school that was local and in-person so I could continue investing into the ministries and the people here in Akron,” said Bowen. “A couple of months later, God answered that prayer in the form of a church announcement – Grace Theological Seminary was launching an Akron Campus at Grace Church Bath.”
Local, in-person, and affiliated with the church he called home, the program was a perfect fit. Shortly after the announcement was made, he filled out his application and was accepted.
Bowen finished his engineering degree in 2021 and enrolled as a seminary student and church resident that fall. Now in his second year, he enjoys working hand-in-hand with missions organizations like STS, Food for the Hungry (FH), and other organizations around the globe. It’s Bowen’s job to help facilitate relationships with the church’s partners, lead short-term missions teams, and invest in people who are feeling called by God to pursue missions.
“I am able to now use the skills and experience from STS in helping both translate and dream of how our church can uniquely serve the people of Guatemala as they reach their neighbors for the Gospel, as well as foster a passion for long-term relationships around the world with our student and adult ministries at Grace. I am excited to see how God will continue to use missions at Grace to advance the Gospel around the world.”