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Redesigning His Future

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2017 graduate foregoes his plan to pursue God’s call.

While he was an engineering student at The Ohio State University, Parker Lambert remembers Aaron Jones, the Southwest Grace Brethren Church pastor, joking with him about changing his career path.

Jones didn’t realize Lambert (WC ’17) would take him seriously. And when Lambert said he was considering making a switch, Jones told Lambert to stay where he was.

“(Jones) jokingly said to me, ‘Well, let me know when you are dropping out of engineering to come work full time at the church,’” said Lambert, who lives in Westerville and is now a pastoral resident at Grace Polaris Church. “About two minutes later, I told him, ‘I’ve been actually thinking about that. I wonder what that would look like?’”

Jones’ response to him was equally unexpected. He handed Lambert an article headlined “Ten Reasons  Not To Go Into The Ministry.”

“He sat me down, and we had a long talk,” Lambert said. “He wanted to make sure the motives were from my heart and that it wasn’t something I was going into just because I felt it was easier. He wanted to confirm this was an actual calling.”

Jones wasn’t the only one shocked by Lambert’s decision. As he grew up, the Worthington Christian graduate had always planned to be an engineer because of his passion for mathematics and science. Lambert was earning solid marks at OSU and was two and a half years into the school’s engineering track.

When he told friends and family about his decision to pursue the ministry as a career, he received confused looks, furrowed brows, and questions.

“I usually got one of two responses. It was either, ‘Oh wow! That’s so awesome!’ or ‘Oh wow … that’s something I guess,’” Lambert said.

“One person asked me, ‘Why are you throwing away your intelligence to go into Biblical Studies?’ I responded, ‘Are you saying we don’t need intelligent people to study the Bible?’”

Grades were not an issue in the decision. Lambert ensured he received his acceptance letter to Ohio State’s School of Electrical Engineering before announcing his transfer to Grace College.

“I wanted to dedicate my life to something greater than being a successful engineer and making a lot of money,” he said. “We need good engineers, and I miss some aspects of engineering. However, I don’t think it was my calling.”

Lambert’s path began to change when his phone rang in the middle of a microeconomics class at Ohio State. He received word his grandfather, Raymond Lambert, had suffered a stroke, and he needed to get to the hospital at once.

“By the time I got there, he passed away,” he said. “He and I were extremely close.”

 “(Growing up) I was over at his house like every weekend because my parents were getting a divorce. Friday night, we’d make pizzas together. He bought me my first bike and taught me how to ride it. We’d go fishing or sit in a field and look for four-leafed clovers.”

The one thing they didn’t do was talk about Christianity. He knew “Papa Ray” believed in God, and the two often prayed together, but never shared their thoughts about Christianity.

His grandfather’s death created a crisis of faith for Lambert.

“Growing up, I wanted to be known as a good Christian kid,” he said. “But what kind of Christian am I if I can’t share Christ with the person I’m closest with? Am I talking about Christ at all? (My faith) needed to be a bigger part of my life.”

The questions might come as a shock to those who knew Lambert in high school. The 2017 graduate said he put on the pretense of being the perfect Christian school student. Lambert floated from youth group to youth group, even attending Grace Polaris, the same youth group he works with.

“When I was growing up, church for me was a place for me to hang out with my friends,” he said. “It wasn’t about (learning about God); it was about me, my friends, and, quite honestly, where the girls were.”

While Lambert’s intentions may not have always been pure, he said Worthington Christian gave him “a great foundation of biblical knowledge to fall back on.”

“I had all this head knowledge,” he said. “I even led a Bible study with CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) at Ohio State.

“If I didn’t know God’s truth, I would have been really lost when my grandpa passed away. It would have been an opportunity for me to run from God. Instead, God used that tragedy and suffering to produce hope and faith to draw me to Him.”

Lambert hopes his experience will help him work with other students in the same position.

Lambert works with Grace student pastor David Nicodemus in planning the curriculum for the church’s Wednesday night youth group and Sunday school for students from fifth to 12th grade. He also leads a small group of seventh and eighth graders.

“That can be a little bit challenging,” he said with a laugh. “I was used to working with college-aged students who wanted to be there.

“However, with middle schoolers, some want to be there, and some are just dropped off there by their parents. I would say one-third teaching, one-third building relationships, and one-third classroom control. I am learning the kind of stuff you don’t learn about in school – the practical, pastoral relational side of ministry.”

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