Graduating Senior Follows a Call to Serve
An invitation to teach a Sabbath School class at Southwestern led Dustin Serns to a lifetime of serving others.
Dustin Serns can’t put his finger on the day or hour when he felt his call to ministry.
“There was never an epiphany moment when I knew it was because of that experience,” he says. “I’ve always loved sharing my faith and being a spiritual leader and helping other people grow in their walk with God.”
As he leaves Southwestern Adventist University as a theology graduate, Serns does talk about a mission trip his high school took to India, and the youth church he helped plant his senior year in his home town of Vancouver, Wash.
The son of a pastor, Serns says that people used to always tell him, “Oh, you’re going to be a pastor just like your dad.” In response, Serns would say, “No, I’m going to be a pastor just like me.”
When Serns came to Southwestern as a freshman, he got caught up in all the social options like most new students. But when he became a sophomore, Serns began teaching a Sabbath School class for the university. That invitation to teach by Jose LaPorte, the school’s student chaplain at the time, led Serns into a lifetime of service and many opportunities to get other students involved.
“A lot of people are ready and willing to go somewhere and do something,” he says. “But they need to be invited. If a friend invites them to do something, then they’re really open to going. So I would just invite everyone I could find in the café or class to go to Sabbath School that week.”
Serns looks at Dr. Ingo Sorke, chair of Southwestern’s religion department, as a mentor. When Serns was still trying to decide whether to come to Southwestern, it was a personal letter from Sorke that convinced him to come.
“I’ve always looked up to him as a mentor because he can relate to all ages. He gives people room to grow. And so I didn’t feel any expectations to do or be a certain way.”
Serns also appreciated the mentoring that went on by older theology students when he came in as a freshman. Senior theology major Edwin Rosado befriended Serns, and Serns learned to look to him as a spiritual mentor and someone who could show him the ropes as a theology student. Rosado ministered to Serns, answering a lot of questions that he had, and helping him through the transitional time of being a freshman.
“That relationship actually still continues,” says Serns. “I saw him not long ago. He’s up at Seminary, and I am going up there too.”
That mentoring relationship prompted Serns to do the same. Today he considers daily ministering to individuals and uplifting them to be an important part of his mission.
One way he’s learned to serve others is through the student pastor program at Southwestern. Serns served as a student pastor at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church two years ago, leading out in the youth department. Last year he was student pastor at Richardson Seventh-day Adventist Church. While there, he organized and led a mission trip to the Dominican Republic for the church and preached an evangelistic series.
In October 2010, Serns received a call from the Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. This fall, he will study at the Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Mich., to get his master of divinity degree, after which he will pastor somewhere in the Washington Conference.
“I strive to be used by God,” says Serns. “I’m excited about being a pastor, to mobilize people in ministry, and to see more people in the kingdom of God. My ultimate is giving everyone an invitation to accept Christ and be in His kingdom.”