Over the course of their program, MDiv students at Westminster Seminary California (WSCal) are required to earn 700 internship hours. This vital step in training for vocational work in ministry can be filled in a variety of ways, with numerous benefits to the student and the church or community they serve. This summer, WSCal students spread across the globe to put their academic training to practical use.
Patrick Claytor, an MDiv student going into his third year at WSCal, spent a month in Moldova, working alongside several churches and pastors through the Reformation Moldova ministry.
“I preached multiple times each week, led various Bible studies, evangelized, served Ukrainian refugees, and helped lead a Vacation Bible School,” said Claytor. In addition to these responsibilities, he and his wife, Renata, spent time with families from various churches.
“Since she was born in Moldova, she enjoyed connecting culturally in ways that I was unable to,” Claytor said. “Her presence was tremendously valuable.”
Exhorting and sharing the gospel in a cross-cultural setting was uniquely helpful, said Claytor, forcing him to examine the message for clarity and challenge his own understanding of the scriptures.
“Westminster prepared me to be able to interact with vastly different viewpoints,” he added. “Though not much of what Westminster teaches is echoed in what I came across in Moldova, the skills that the professors instilled in me prepared me to think through and dialogue with other perspectives in charitable ways.”
Claytor asked for continued prayer for the church in Moldova.
“The zeal and godliness of the Christians in Moldova was inspiring—it was encouraging and convicting to witness their passion for evangelism and desire to grow in Christlikeness,” he said. “Please pray for Moldova, as God is growing his Church. The Christians need resources, ministers, and much prayer. God is working in incredible ways there.”
Eddie Mercado spent much of his summer with his wife and four children in Wyoming, MI as a pastoral intern at Harvest OPC.
“I had the privilege of visiting people in their homes, along with a pastor or elder, for shepherding visits,” Mercado said, explaining that much of his internship was dedicated to pastoral care, which included following up with church visitors and serving pulpit supply at Harvest and neighboring churches who were in need.
“I appreciated the way the Pastors encouraged me to jump in and make connections with individuals who are relatively new to the church,” said Mercado. “It forced me to not just stick with members of the church that I already knew and felt comfortable with, and more importantly it helped make these individuals feel seen and heard. It can be a temptation to blend in with the crowd at our church, and chatting with some of these folks encouraged them to think not only about how Harvest can bless them, but how they can be a blessing in return.”
Going into his third year of the four-year MDiv program, Mercado has had the benefit of completing the hefty language requirements.
“I have appreciated the emphasis on biblical languages my first two years at WSCal,” he said. “I have been humbled in studying Greek and Hebrew, which has caused me to depend on the Lord and him alone to bless my labors. And yet, it has been a delight to see that these classes do make a difference when serving the church. Few lay people care about the technical details behind a passage, but being able to help individuals understand their Bibles better in an accessible way has been a great joy.”
The time in the pulpit has been a humbling experience for him, said Mercado, reminding him of the sense of urgency that should be present in preaching God’s word.
“There were a couple moments in my internship that reminded me of the sober responsibility of preaching,” he said. Several of his sermons were followed up with encouraging testimonies from those listening who shared how God used Mercado’s message to bless them. “These conversations reminded me that, ultimately, it is the Lord who is speaking through the preaching of the word, and that I am a dying man preaching to dying people.”
Shon Barrett interned in Anchorage Alaska at Redeemer URC for three months this summer.
As Redeemer currently does not have a pastor, Barrett’s responsibilities mirrored much of the typical workload of a full-time pastor’s.
“I exhorted nearly every Sunday morning, led the worship service almost as many times, frequently taught the second service and facilitated a weekly men’s bible study,” said Barrett. “I was also able to visit church shut-ins with an elder, which was a blessing.”
Barrett was also joined by his family—his wife and six kids.
“One area my wife and I wanted to focus on was hospitality,” he said. “We tried to host church families at our home on a regular basis. We also had a few churchwide gatherings at our house. It was a blessing to be able to build personal relationships with the people of Redeemer.”
Given the scope of responsibilities of this internship, Barret said he feels he has grown in many ways.
“While I was prepping for my second sermon of the summer, I was overcome with a sense of what a privilege it is to be able to encourage God’s people with His word,” he said. “The whole experience has really helped me develop my sense of calling to pastoral ministry.”
Until this internship, Barrett had never preached a sermon outside of seminary classes. Adjusting to the routine of preparing one weekly, he said, not only helped him appreciate the tools he has acquired at WSCal—like reading texts in the original languages and assessing passages with discourse analysis—but helped him see how much God sustains his servants.
“The whole process forced me to trust God and realize that it is He who ultimately causes His word to be effectual,” Barrett said. “This internship has been an encouragement for not only me but also for my wife and kids. It has been over two years since I quit my career and moved my family from Texas to California for seminary. The timing was perfect to remind us why we left everything behind to pursue full time ministry. We have two more years ahead of us, yet we return to California reinvigorated and encouraged, having experienced the blessing that it is to serve Christ and His church in a pastoral role.”BACK