In college Sam DeJong went with her church on a mission trip to Honduras.
The youth group made up the majority of the group, but she wasn’t their leader. She was just there because there was an extra spot.
During an evening conversation, the girls from the youth group asked DeJong why she wasn’t one of their leaders. “I remember clearly stumbling over my words and giving some excuse, but the truth was I was not spiritually healthy enough to be a leader,” she said.
This was the beginning a journey that led to seminary, to discernment of the program that would lead to ordination, and to meeting her partner in life and ministry, Nate McCarron.
“Nate came into seminary with a Greek minor and helped me through the challenges that Greek and Hebrew brought,” DeJong recalled. “A year later we were engaged and married on our spring break in 2008.”
In the summer of 2009, Sam and Nate DeJong McCarron moved to Albuquerque, N.M., to copastor as interns at a vacant church, Chelwood Christian Reformed Church. While there they were recruited to plant a church in Denver, Col. They started fundraising and then moved to Denver. During a yearlong residency they were ordained as ministers of the Word.
“After three years of church planting in Denver, we made the hard decision to close the church plant,” said Sam. They moved in with her parents in Chicago and recognized that at least one of them needed to be gainfully employed. Nate found work at Orland Park CRC while their search continued.
In the fall of 2013, Nate received a call to be the lead pastor at Fuller Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich. But what would this mean for Sam and her sense of call?
A two- to three-year process of discerning and waiting ensued.
“Nate and I decided that taking a job at a church other than Fuller was not an option,” Sam said. “We wanted to keep our focus on Fuller and raising our kids in that community of faith, which meant my options for employment were limited.”
Thinking through her gifts of communication, pastoral care, and strategy, she looked into chaplaincy jobs and school jobs. Then the ministry assessment coordinator opportunity came up, a new position within the denominational ministry called Pastor Church Resources.
“It checked all the boxes, Sam says. “It was a part-time position that directly impacts ministry, uses my gifts for the advancement of the kingdom, and is not in a different church than Nate.”
After interviewing, the sense of call for this job grew. To the joy of Sam and the search committee, she was appointed as vocational ministry assessment coordinator for the CRCNA in February 2016.
Her work includes contact with a variety of ministry leaders: pastors, missionaries, chaplains, seminarians, and lay leaders wondering about ministry.
One of her primary roles is to help pastors find and take vocational assessments. She is also researching the best tools for assessments and the best possible time for assessments to be done in the life of pastors.
- Pray for the new Vocational Ministry Assessment Initiative as it seeks to assist pastors and ministry leaders as they discern their calling and where God would have them serve.
- Pray for the 47 people presented for approval as candidates for ordination as minister of the Word. Pray for them as they wait for and discern a call, and pray for the ministries that are looking at their profiles.
- Pray for classis teams that are encouraging those preparing for ordained ministry.
- Pray for the 20 Korean pastors who completed a recent denominational orientation retreat as they move toward ordination in the CRC.
About the Author
David R. Koll is a retired Christian Reformed pastor. He lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., and is a member of the Anaheim CRC. He was the CRCNA director of candidacy from 2008 to 2021.