Most people are thrilled when they’re told that they’ve been accepted into medical school. Jared was disappointed. He tried to be excited as he shared the news with friends and family, but he felt like he wasn’t being honest.

Being a doctor had been his only goal, and he’d worked really hard to get here. So, he must really want to be one…right? Coming from a family of doctors, it was a running joke that Jared could be anything…as long as he was a doctor. His life’s path was clearly defined, and he liked that!

In the back of his mind, though, there was another option: ministry.

As a child and teen, Jared saw Christianity as merely a nice part of life. He grew up attending church each week. Sometimes he read the Bible, but it seemed kind of boring, if he was being honest.

When he enrolled at a Christian university, Jared majored in chemistry. Somehow, he was asked to help lead a small group and discovered that he loved it. Soon, the staff asked him to help coach other students on leading small groups. He began spending time each morning in prayer and Bible study, and his faith came alive. His relationship with God was thriving.

Scripture isn’t a rulebook that God uses to control humans. Rather, it’s a storybook that God is using to liberate us.

One evening, during chapel, Jared suddenly felt a strong conviction that he should pursue a career in ministry. He found himself crying in a side room over the weight of the decision. After a few days, he benched the idea. After all, medicine was just as much ministry as working for the church.

However, the stirring continued within him over the next couple of years, as various people told him, “Jared, you should go into ministry.” Finally, upon realizing that he was actually disappointed about getting into medical school, Jared knew that he and God needed to take some time to figure out what he should do.

After hearing some friends share the positive impact that Light Bearers’ discipleship program, ARISE, had on them, Jared boarded a plane to Australia to attend the three-month program, as part of the class of 2020.

Walking into the classroom on the first day, Jared noticed a sign on the wall that said, “The Story.” He’d taken a screenwriting class in college, so he was intrigued. Below the sign were seven interlaced circles forming a line, each with a different label: Pre-Creation, Creation, Fall, Covenant, Messiah, Church, Re-Creation. A man in a hoodie and Vans introduced himself as an instructor, Ty Gibson. Right away, his first class began to change the way Jared saw the Bible.

Scripture isn’t a rulebook that God uses to control humans. Rather, it’s a storybook that God is using to liberate us. Ty explained that the circles depicted the story arc of the Bible.

The classes took deep dives into doctrine, evangelism, and personal development, but they were always centered on Jesus. As he was presented with angle after angle of God’s love, Jared found himself wondering, “How have I gone my whole life and missed this side of God? I could talk about this every day and not get tired of it.”

One day, Jared decided to talk to Ty about his career confusion. Ty quoted Frederick Buechner to him: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

In that moment, Jared knew he wasn’t going to be a doctor. Medicine was cool and it was a ministry, but he wanted to work for the church in full-time ministry. This discipleship program was the catalyst for him to finally surrender. 

After ARISE, he began Bible working at a church. During that time, doubts about ministry arose in his mind, and he considered going back to medicine. It was such a clearly defined path. What would ministry even look like? Would he make enough money to survive? But Jared couldn’t deny what was in his heart. When he eventually chose to take the leap of faith, his soul was flooded with peace.

“After ARISE, I suddenly had this love for Scripture that I don’t think I had before.”

His personal revival spilled into his conversations with his siblings. Jason, the second oldest, was intrigued by Jared’s passion and signed up for ARISE in October of 2021. Joseph, the next brother, had little interest in God and no interest in spending 14 weeks studying the Bible.

Jared began to pray for Joseph. One night, Joseph confided in Jared that he was going through a difficult time. Jared felt compelled to invite him to ARISE. He needed the gospel! One week later, Joseph applied and was accepted, along with his brother Jason, for the class of 2022.

Joseph, the one who had little interest in God, is now Bible working in Australia before heading to college. Reflecting on his experience, Joseph said, “At ARISE, I saw how my life was before, and I saw how life was at the moment, and my quality of life was so much better with Jesus at the center.”

Jason, once mildly intrigued by God, now has a foundation of Scripture as he attends medical school. “After ARISE, I suddenly had this love for Scripture that I don’t think I had before. I think that came from reading the Bible every day and sharing what I’ve learned with others.”

Jared currently works as a chaplain at a K-12 school in Australia, where he organizes small groups, studies the Bible with students, and prays with them. He has even influenced several of them to attend the ARISE 2023 class. Jared’s sister is also a student this year.

On its own, the story of Scripture is magnetizing. It points us to a God who is madly in love with each of us. When we tell that story, in all its beauty, people spontaneously fall in love with it. And, when you fall in love, you can’t help but talk about the person you love, like Jared did. How would the church change if, instead of labeling young adults who are spiritually indifferent as “bad” or “rebellious,” we instead asked ourselves if we’ve really shown them how awesome Jesus is?

When you give to Light Bearers, you’re helping people of all ages, but especially young adults, discover a Jesus they can get excited about. If you haven’t already, consider partnering with us to help reach the Jareds of the world, who will then reach the Josephs, Jasons, and—well, you get the idea.

Anneliese Wahlman
Creative Writer at Light Bearers

Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.