Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Shepherding God's children:

Children's minister applies college education
Christy Cabe describes advantages of ministry degree program at Huntington University, a Christian college.

“The PRIME experience was the most effective experience. Most institutions do not offer anything like it. PRIME became a huge advantage to preparing me for my future ministry.”

In his farewell to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, Paul said, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the Church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (verse 28).

Christy Cabe, a 2000 Huntington University graduate, spends each day living out this verse to the best of her ability. As the former director of children’s ministries at Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., Christy taught youngsters how to be God’s children. She had responsibility for the spiritual nurture of children from infancy through fifth grade. Without her education and experiences at Huntington University, Christy says she would have been unprepared for ministry leadership.

In 2007, Christy chose to step away from full-time ministry when her son Karson, then two years old, was diagnosed with leukemia.

Christy was the ninth member of her family to attend Huntington University. Growing up as a pastor’s daughter just a few miles away from campus, Christy says she became very familiar with Huntington University by attending various youth conventions hosted by the institution.

Christy knew since she was young that she would be involved in ministry by some means. Initially, she thought her contribution would be through art. When she enrolled at Huntington, she decided to be an art major.

“I knew I wanted to be involved in ministry but I figured art would be how I would make my living."

Christy says she got good advice from Huntington professors who saw her true potential. "During my first semester at Huntington, Dr. Dave Rahn approached me and asked why I was majoring in art. Once I took a few more classes, I realized I needed to learn how to be a leader in ministry. I needed to be prepared for how God would want to use me so I switched my major to educational ministries.”

During her freshman year, Christy had the opportunity to become involved in a research project with other ministry majors. Over the next three years, she traveled around the country to various church locations, interviewing the staff and youth. It proved to be a great opportunity for her to see how healthy churches functioned. When all the research was completed, a book was published on the findings.

At Huntington University, Christy had many opportunities to immerse herself in ministry. She stayed involved with middle school youth at her home church and became a resident assistant at the university, a position that allowed her to minister to her peers. By her senior year, she was required to take a seven-month internship called PRIME (Practical Research through Immersion and Ministry Evaluation).

“The core Bible classes I took, such as Isaiah and Biblical Interpretation, helped me to make sure I understood the Bible well enough to teach it. But the PRIME experience was the most effective experience. Most institutions do not offer anything like it. PRIME became a huge advantage to preparing me for my future ministry.”

Through PRIME, Christy spent seven months at Nappanee Missionary Church in Nappanee, Ind., working with high school youth. She was carefully mentored by an experienced youth minister. The long-term assignment gave her an appreciation of the challenges and rewards of full-time ministry.

Toward the end of her stay, Christy became aware of a children’s ministry job that was opening at her home church.

“Emmanuel Community Church was growing, and it seemed the Lord was opening children’s ministry doors. I always loved kids and working with them, and now I think it’s even a better fit for me than youth ministry and even women’s ministries.”

As the former director of children’s ministries, Christy said the greatest benefits were seeing the kids learn God’s word and get excited about it. “Hearing kids quote a Bible verse and have the faith of a child is really evident in this job.”

She used her Huntington University education and experiences to shepherd not only the children but also the parents and other adults who volunteered to teach Sunday school classes and work in the nursery.

“Emmanuel’s church motto is ‘His Word, Our Walk’ and we like to start that from the ground up. We tell them even at the preschool level that the Bible is the most important book even though they can’t read it yet. And we bring them up with this at each level, adding more depth when they are able to understand it. By the fifth grade we do a whole overview in a junior discipleship class.”

At Huntington University, Christy liked the low student-to-faculty ratio and the opportunity to make many close friends on the small, friendly campus. Even though she grew up in the church and came to Huntington with a firm understanding of Christianity, she says that her time at Huntington University offered her a great atmosphere to continue growing in the Lord.

Christy says the best advice she can give an incoming student is to get involved in campus and public ministries from the freshman year.

“By the time I graduated, I had worked with all ages through my various involvements. Because of those opportunities, I knew which age area I liked better and the different challenges of each. It was a huge advantage to know this before I graduated.”

Christy’s husband, Kraig, is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes director for northern Indiana. As they help each other, the Lord uses them in the lives of people from infant-age through adult. God had a plan for Christy to become actively involved in full-time ministry and thanks to the opportunities and teachings provided at Huntington University, she is better able to be the shepherd God called her to be.

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