Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Family at the center of one student’s PRIME

Jonathan McCleery

“PRIME was the best part of my Huntington University experience. … I’m a very experiential learner, so it solidified and showed me why I learned what I got at HU and how to utilize it.”

Many people envision missions work as leaving your home to serve God across the globe. What if you didn’t have to leave your family to serve, even internationally? This was the reality for Jonathan McCleery, the man who left to serve with family in a global scene.

A senior youth ministries and missions double major, McCleery was a man of many talents and jobs in the port town of Barranquilla, Columbia. He did not go down with an organization, but rather he left to join a group of longtime family friends.

This was how McCleery's PRIME experience began. A trip designed to put to practice his ministry classes became the way that McCleery found his voice. Not only his Spanish-speaking voice, but his voice in speaking the gospel.

This family was a team of lawyers who were living in Barranquilla. When they befriended the McCleery family, they felt a call to serve. The family picked up and moved to the slums of the city in the name of ministry. Now, the family owns and operates a church and school in the city Barranquilla. They have remained close to the McCleery family during this adventure.

McCleery served two primary functions during his PRIME experience, he was a youth pastor and a school teacher. As a youth pastor, McCleery helped the church begin a youth ministry program, along with preaching sermons. At the school, he became the teacher of a Christian ethics course, which he taught in Spanish.

“I was stretched like I have never been stretched before. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done,” McCleery said. “It brought me to a new level of faith. The days where I was like, ‘God, I need you here’ were the best I had.”

PRIME is an internship experience designed by the ministry and missions department at Huntington University. The PRIME (Practical Research and Immersion for Ministry Effectiveness) program prepares students to enter the field of ministry after graduation. Students choose a location of their choice during the months of May through December after the student’s junior year. These students are then mentored by experienced ministry leaders.

“PRIME was the best part of my Huntington University experience. … I’m a very experiential learner, so it solidified and showed me why I learned what I got at HU and how to utilize it.”

Through preaching and teaching, McCleery has edified and added to the family of God in Columbia, and he has no plans to stop.

While he may not stay in Columbia, he will use his ministry to build up that family wherever God may take him.