Name: Dylan Durham
Hometown: Sturgeon, Missouri
Program: Youth Ministry
Graduation year: 2022
Future career plans: I plan on becoming a missionary or youth pastor for troubled youth. I want to help change families, fix broken homes, and help those who would typically be ignored by society. I want to help teenagers who are in the foster care system. I have plans to adopt children internationally and locally. One day, I would love to be able to pastor a church and make an impact in a town or community for the kingdom of God.
Why did you choose Evangel? What brought you here?
I grew up not knowing a thing about God. My family situation was less than ideal. My father was handicap and my mother wasn’t around during a lot of my childhood. As I was growing up, I was expected to serve as my father’s caretaker. My father struggled with a variety of illnesses and needed constant assistance. That meant that I was the one who cooked dinner, paid the bills, rode to the store on my bicycle to get groceries, and maintained a very small social life.
My father was then diagnosed with dementia and cancer. At 12 years old I couldn’t quite grasp what that meant for me and my small family of two. A few years later, my father died of congestive heart failure.
The week my father died was the week of my first musical performance. Somehow I still had the strength to go on stage and perform the show. When I look back, I realize that God provided me with so much strength in those moments.
Over the next few years, I was in and out of the foster care system. Eventually, I became emancipated at the age of 16. I worked three different jobs to earn money to take care of myself.
Throughout my life I struggled with my identity, drugs, addictions, and a need to feel loved. The theater was a place that I felt loved and when I graduated high school, pursuing a career in theater was what I thought I wanted to do with my life. My senior year of high school was spent looking at schools that had good theater programs. After finding one, I auditioned and was accepted.
The summer after graduation, I worked two jobs to pay for my first semester of college. In the middle of the summer, a friend invited me to attend a youth camp with his church. He gave me his spot so that I could go for free. He told me about God and how much God loved me. I told him I would go but that I didn’t believe in God.
I attended camp and I got saved! Evangel University had a booth set up in the back of the chapel throughout the week of camp. The moment I visited the EU booth I felt an overwhelming pull and I knew that God was calling me into full-time ministry.
The summer ended and I went to Missouri Western State University as planned to pursue theater. Can I just say, if God wants you to do something, do it! During my year at Missouri Western State University, I had everything the “old me” wanted. In February 2018, I remember being on stage, looking into the audience, and feeling empty inside.
Evangel University continued to pursue me, and the call that God placed on my heart continued to grow. The Admissions Department called me 35 times asking if I was ready to finish my application. I ignored 34 of those phone calls before I finally answered. I didn’t know how it was going to happen financially, but I knew that God was much bigger than my worries.
God helped me get the scholarships I needed to attend. In the fall 2018, I started the best journey of my life at Evangel.
What do you find most exciting/most fulfilling about the degree you’re currently pursuing?
Currently, I am most excited to help people. I am one of the most unqualified people in the world to be used by God, and yet he continues to qualify His call on my life. Through the Youth Ministry degree program, I have received hands-on training with a variety of churches and have been allowed to serve the community. This practical training in ministry has been so rewarding. The program has set me on a path for success, and I couldn’t be more grateful!
Why would you recommend it to someone else?
I would recommend the Youth Ministry program to anyone who is called into full-time ministry to young adults. This program has given me an opportunity to pour into the lives of many students around the area. At Evangel University, you have the opportunity to learn how to do youth ministry in a very supportive environment. The ability to pursue the fast track plan and graduate in five years with a master’s degree from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary is also a great reason to study through the Theology and Global Church Ministries Department.
How has Evangel prepared you or helped you so far?
Evangel has helped me find community and love in a supportive environment. The faculty and staff here have helped me plug into a local church, find ministry jobs, serve my community, and learn more about God and the Bible than ever before. I feel more prepared to step into my calling with all the knowledge I have acquired.
Do you have a specific testimony or story of how God has really shown up for you or made Himself known to you during your time at EU so far?
At Evangel, I have had to overcome so many things. Last year there were two situations that God used to speak to me and make Himself known in my life. I had a cancer scare in October 2018. Several of the university leaders and members of my church prayed for me. I was miraculously healed and the mass the doctors identified as being potentially cancerous disappeared.
This past spring, I had to pay a substantial amount of money to continue my studies, and I didn’t have the funds to do so. I spoke to the representatives in the Financial Aid office to see if there was any additional assistance I could receive. They were eager to assist me, and I was able to receive an extra support grant to help offset the cost of the spring semester. I also received a generous financial gift from one of my professors. This professor was given money several years ago and was told to hold onto it until the time came to give it to the right person. It is unbelievable that even when I had no idea I was going to need help, God prepared a way for me to pay for school years before I knew him.