Matt Stemen left for Knox Presbyterian Church on June 1 as a student, but returned seven months later with a thorough understanding of what it takes to be a quality leader.
After interning at the church in Ann Arbor, Mich., for only a month for his PRIME
experience, Matt’s mentor asked him to lead a missions trip to the Amazon Jungle in Peru. While in the Amazon, Matt and his team visited four different villages and passed out water to the local natives, washed the villagers’ feet, shared the Gospel and taught the villagers how to play soccer. Matt also traveled with his PRIME students to Detroit, Mich., and Nashville, Tenn., — two missions trips which Matt planned and led.
“You have to help prepare the hearts of the people going, so they’ll be going for the right reasons,” he said. “Community needs to be the focus of the trip because it’s a team effort. I wanted my students to see how God loves all people.”
Besides organizing missions trips, Matt also taught youth groups on Wednesday evenings during the summer months, planned the middle school retreat and volunteered to help at the high school retreat for his church and initiated and led a small group of high school boys for eight weeks.
Matt tried to genuinely invest in the lives of his students, but felt nervous about leading them since he did not have all the right answers. In order to be an effective leader, Matt learned to trust God.
“Some people might not be at the same point you are,” Matt said. “I would ask (my students) questions to see where their deepest hurts are. I needed to know what they all were going through. I think you know how to teach when you know the people you are teaching.”
Matt appreciated his time on PRIME (Practical Research and Immersion through Ministry Experience). He learned who he was in the eyes of God and how important it is to keep God’s mission in mind at all times — investing in people and engaging in relationships to reconcile people back to God. Matt also learned what is required of a church leader.
PRIME is an internship experience through the Ministry and Missions department
at Huntington University that prepares students to enter the field of ministry after graduation.
Matt, a 2011 youth ministries and educational ministries graduate from Columbia City, Ind., encourages future PRIME students to have no expectations going into their experiences and to invest completely into the ministry God has entrusted you.
“Make it your goal to learn as much as you can,” he said. “You have the chance to actively be involved in ministry, but PRIME also provides you with a safety net. Don’t hold back. It would be easy to withdraw in times of doubt, but if you have a passion for people, you can change the lives of those you come into contact with. Try to leave the ministry better than you found it.”