Imprinted to do the Work of Jesus
Grace College Akron, a church-centered ministry training program has its share of interesting stories. Sometimes the path to full-time ministry isn’t what you would expect. How does one go from a tattoo artist to a first-year Bachelor of Biblical Studies Major? Read on to find out!
Hurt, lost, and broken. This is what once described Veronica Pettrey, Grace College Akron Biblical Studies student.
She had a stable life for a while. Her husband had a job, they had a young son, and she was employed at Pat Catan’s in the framing department, where she had the opportunity to use her artistic talent to help matte and display works of art. She was content. But all of that changed when she was swayed by the pressure enforced by her family to change her career course and pursue tattoo artistry.
A Career Change
Despite her hesitation, she agreed to at least consider the career change. Before Veronica’s first observation session was over, she had the tattoo machine in hand, and she was finishing a design started by the owner of the shop. A natural, no doubt. She was offered the position immediately.
The job offered freedom, scheduling flexibility, and a chance to explore her artistic abilities, so why wouldn’t she take it? But it also came with a culture of profanity, drugs, and rebellion. Both Veronica and her family noticed the effect the environment had on her language which didn’t match her heart for Jesus. “I was cursing like a sailor,” she reflected.
While Veronica worked with non-believers in a secular environment, she felt needed by her clients. Her station was set apart from the other artists and often, it seemed that her clients were hand-picked for her. Many carried heavy burdens that Veronica helped them bear with a compassionate heart. She shared her love for Jesus with her lost and broken customers as she penned designs on their bodies.
As time went by, Veronica learned to temper her tongue and conform to be more like Jesus than her environment. She grew to see this experience as an opportunity to serve the Lord. She wasn’t just imprinting her clients with ink — she was imprinting them with Christ! And as Veronica’s love for Jesus grew, she received a mark of her own — she felt called to do the work of Jesus full-time! Veronica began to research ministry training opportunities that would prepare her for full-time vocational ministry. She knew that it was her time to leave the tattoo industry.
Grace College Akron
As a divorced single mother in her 30s, looking for a school of ministry was quite a feat. After considering several options, Veronica was just one signature away from enrolling at a school in Virginia. But before she ever signed that piece of paper, the name “Grace College Akron” was thrown out a couple of times. Several people told her of the hands-on ministry experience, the flexible coursework, and the faculty mentorships that the program offered. And Grace Akron’s commitment to helping students graduate debt-free — unparalleled!
Veronica was invited to attend Grace Akron’s orientation for the upcoming fall class. It was just two days before the fall semester started. Veronica didn’t have any books or a laptop, but God provided everything she needed, giving her confirmation that she had made the right decision.
It’s Gonna Be Worth It
With the first week of classes came whispers of failure from her past. “I hated high school and I hated learning in general. What am I doing?” she asked herself. After the first day of class, Veronica sat in her car — the last in the parking lot — as she cried. She was insecure and uncertain that God was with her in this.
In the stillness of the parking lot, for the first time in her life, she heard God speak to her. His voice came through the words of a song by Rita Springer:
“I don’t understand your ways,
Oh but I will give you my song
Give you all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it You are pulling me closer
And pulling me into Your ways.
It’s gonna be worth it;
It’s gonna be worth it;
It’s gonna be worth it all
I believe this.”
Now a junior with a dean’s list GPA, she no longer says she hates school and she believes Rita’s words, “It’s gonna be worth it.”
One of her most memorable experiences so far was an internship where she gained hands-on practice in ministry during Grace College’s summer session. She was accepted through Grace Church’s Give it Away ministry as an intern working with Sanyuka Children’s Ministry where she coordinated, scheduled, and marketed to help orphans visit churches in the US and perform their cultural dances. Her love of the arts was once again being used by the Lord to further His ministry.
Looking forward with great hope for the future, Veronica plans to stay connected to Grace Church Medina East after graduation or work as an event planner with a non-profit organization.
This she knows for sure: God has imprinted her with a specific purpose and it’s gonna be worth it all!
Is hands-on ministry in a local church setting your next step on the path God has for you? Learn more about Grace College Akron!