Today we get to know Jake Belder a little better:
Jake, how did you come to know the Lord?
I cannot point to a specific moment of conversion, as I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home, by parents who loved and served the Lord with all their heart. The example they set for us was a great inspiration. There was, however, a period in my mid-teens when I came to a much greater awareness of my faith. Gradually over time, I found myself growing more interested in things like theology and came to understand that having faith meant more than just believing that God existed—it meant that my belief should transfer into action and should transform the way I live.
This is about the same time I began to think about ministry. I guess this growing consciousness was something visible to those around me, because people began to hint at the idea that I should be a pastor. After I took a world religions class in high school and was introduced to apologetics, I knew that this was the direction I was going to be headed in.
Why did you decided to go to seminary?
My family moved shortly after that period in early high school when people began to tell me I should be a pastor. After a few months in a new church, I was asked to lead the high school youth ministry in our church. Eager to do so, I jumped into the two-year task with excitement. However, that excitement did not last long. I met with a lot of resistance from the leadership of the church, and other members of the group. After two years, I was tired, frustrated, and completely drained. In addition to that, I had begun to see the damage that church politics could cause to a congregation, and the idea of being in ministry and surrounded by that all the time was not appealing in the least.
Towards the end of high school, I was all ready to transfer into a police foundations program at the local community college and become a police officer. But God had different plans, and through the encouragement of family and friends, I applied to Redeemer University College for their pre-seminary program, and was accepted. Those four years were some of the most formative of my life. I was immersed in theology and surrounded by people passionate to serve the Lord, and it was infectious. Also, shortly after meeting Robin, who is now my wife, we joined up with a new church plant. It was exciting to see what God was doing with his church, and I knew that ministry was where I had to be.
I initially applied to one seminary, but towards the end of college, I determined that my gifting was more oriented to an academic life of ministry, and with the guidance of some mentors, I decided that RTS/Orlando would be a better fit for me. I was accepted very quickly and knew that this is where I was to be. Having to relocate to Florida wasn’t that bad of a proposition either, especially when I had to trudge through 25” of snow to get to the mailbox to get my acceptance letter.
What has been the hardest part of seminary for you?
Without a doubt, the hardest part has been balancing life and work. Robin and I had only been married for a few months when I started seminary, and so we were still figuring out what it meant to be married. Combined with a bit of a tendency to procrastinate, I struggled all the way through first year to try and get most of my work done during the day so I could spend the evenings with her, and also so I could go to bed before 2am. It got better toward the end of this first year, and I hope that next year will be even better.
The other difficult thing about seminary is that you hardly have time to think about what you’re learning when you’re taking a full course load. There is always so many ideas to sit and mull over as I’m reading or listening to lectures, there’s often not a lot of time to do so. That can be a bit disheartening sometimes, but I’ve learned to make notes in a little notebook once and a while when something comes up I want to think on some more, and I plan to go back to that over the summer and give it some more thought.
What has been the most rewarding part of seminary for you?
The point I just made at the end of the first question is largely a rewarding thing as well. It really is a great blessing to be surrounded by other students and professors who are passionate about the Word and the Church, and to be able to interact with them on a number of different levels. I am sure there are a lot of things I’ve heard or read this year that I never would have really thought about before, but have ended up playing a role in continually shaping me. It is a blessing beyond all measure to be able to learn at this level and to study what I love.
How’d you start blogging and why do you Blog?
I started blogging in college when it was a new trend. A couple of friends suggested I do so, and so I signed up for it. Initially it was just fun to be part of the crowd, but I began to see a lot of benefits come out of it. For one, I found my writing style continually improving. I also found that it was serving as a medium for me to put my thoughts down on (virtual) paper and sort through things. As I spent more time online, I also began to meet new people as we discovered each other’s blogs. These people came with different points of view and new insights, and I found all this to be beneficial in thinking through all kinds of issues.
I keep blogging today for all the same reasons as this. It’s been a rewarding experience for me, and I hope that in some way my thoughts have been of benefit to others as well as they are thinking through different issues and topics.