If you’ve eaten at Union Market in the last four years, you’ve probably seen Jefferson Gibson. The senior theology major serves meals, stocks shelves and rings up purchases, all with his characteristic easygoing smile. If you ask him what his plans for the future are, he’ll answer quickly and confidently: “I know what my calling is because God has directed me to pastoral ministry.”
Gibson wasn’t always so sure of his path. When he started working at the cafeteria during his freshman year, he was a general biology major. Although he had a passion for biblical studies and ministry, he felt that theology was too big of a task for him to do. However, his roommate, his friends, and even his pastor seemed to think it would be a good fit for him.
Feeling conflicted about his career choices, Gibson decided to ask God for a sign. “At the time, I liked this girl,” he said. “She was really busy and never came to the deli at Union Market, so I would never get to see her. Early one morning I prayed, ‘God, if you really want me to study theology, as a sign I ask that she come to the cafeteria and order something at the deli.’”
Gibson didn’t take his prayer too seriously, and he forgot about it as he began his day. But while he was working in the deli that afternoon, one of his friends pulled him aside. “My friend said, ‘Okay Jeff, don’t freak out, but the girl you like is right behind you, and she’s ordering something from the deli,’” said Gibson. “I was really upset and frustrated because now I knew what God wanted me to do, but I didn’t want to do it. It was such a big step.”
Gibson switched his major to psychology as a sort of compromise. “I kept hearing this small voice trying to tell me, ‘Jeff, you should do theology,’” he said. “So I went up to the Religion Program office, took a leap of faith and switched my major. Since then, my whole path here at Union has been so peaceful, and I know that this is the right direction for me.”
One of Gibson’s favorite classes is Church Leadership, taught by Dr. Thomas Toews. “We learn about the rules of how a church is operated, how to run a church business meeting and what to do if there are problems in the church,” Gibson said. He put these lessons to use during his practicum at Allon Chapel. “I got to do what a pastor would do under a senior pastor. I saw what ministry is like with real people, and because of that, I think I’m prepared to do well at my job when I graduate.”
Following graduation, Gibson will begin serving full-time as a pastor. “I got a job at Omaha Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church,” he said. “I will be an associate pastor for two to three years and then I will be shipped off to seminary at Andrews. That’s my plan for the future so far, and we’ll see what God has in store.” Even though God’s signs may not always be as clear as it was in the cafeteria, Gibson has his eyes open for whatever form His guidance might take.