Meet Jasmine N. Jackson
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Age: 28 years old
Home Church: Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago
Degree Program: Master of Divinity
Tell us a little about yourself and your calling:
If you would have told me five years ago that God would lead me to ordained ministry, I probably would have laughed. Not that I was opposed to the idea of this calling (I was already serving in the church), but I was comfortable in lay ministry. I believe I set the bar too low for myself, and even my expectations of God. In 2011, I felt "something" encouraging me to pursue a seminary education. This impelling, I would later learn, was the beginning of my calling to ordained ministry.
As a third generation Garrett-Evangelical student, my late father and brother were also students, I was familiar with seminary. I remember visiting the website, calling admissions to express my interest, and printing the admission application. I prayed that if Garrett-Evangelical was where God was calling me to go that the door would be opened for me. I held that application for a year, a year that also happened to be one of the most difficult times of my life. Amazingly, despite the time that passed, my desire and interest in seminary only deepened. A year later, I was invited to attend a campus orientation; it was after that visit that my decision to apply was finalized. The application I had saved a year earlier was finally submitted. Not only was I overjoyed when accepted, but also to learn that I was accepted with scholarships. I knew that my prayer had been answered by God and God desired for me to walk through this door. Again I had no idea what was in store, nor what my plans would be after graduation. I just knew that I was supposed to be here!
I wrestled much with my own will, and possibly God’s will, my first year of seminary. However, when I finally came to a place of total surrender of "Jasmine's" plans, in exchange for the Lord's, life began to get better and I was amazed. In just four short years of coming to this place called Garrett-Evangelical, I have grown immensely! I thank the Garrett-Evangelical community for helping me to claim my calling and to boldly walk in its authority. I am awed by the loving patience of God and the strength of the Holy Spirit who walks with me along this journey!
How did you come to choose Garrett Evangelical?
Garrett-Evangelical is no stranger to my family. I am grateful to be following the path of my late father, the Rev. Abraham Patterson Jackson, and my brother, Rev. Darrell Jackson, by attending this seminary. I am also happy to be the first woman in my family to graduate from seminary! Due to the history of this relationship, it is not surprising that both my family and church encouraged me to attend Garrett-Evangelical.
Upon surveying the degrees offered, the youth ministry concentration within the Master of Arts of Christian Education (MACE) degree spoke to me. I had not seen a similar concentration in other seminaries. After graduating with the MACE degree in 2014, the "village" provided by many faculty and friends of Garrett-Evangelical encouraged me to pursue the Master of Divinity program.
What has surprised you about yourself and/or about seminary since you came to Garrett-Evangelical?
What has surprised me about myself since coming to seminary is the way that I have thrived in this environment. School has always been something that I was able to successfully matriculate through, but prior to Garrett-Evangelical, I had not taken any formal religious classes. Yet, with dedication, study, and prayers, I have done well in seminary. At Garrett-Evangelical, I have also been empowered to redefine my calling, defining what that means for me! There is no "cookie-cutter" model, and daily, the work of the seminary helps to me to pursue the path best suited for me. I am also surprised by and grateful for how Garrett-Evangelical has broadened my perspective on various beliefs, customs, and theologies. Yet, they did not "take away my Jesus!"
How has your faith and/or calling been strengthened since being at Garrett-Evangelical?
My faith and calling has truly been strengthened since coming to Garrett- Evangelical. Seeing how God has, and continues to, amaze me within this seminary community and within my ministry has strengthened my faith. The seminary has provided a nurturing environment that has encouraged me to try new things. One example of this is preaching. Unlike many of my peers, when I came to seminary I had never preached a sermon, and honestly did not foresee that in my future. Yet again, God had a different plan! Nearly two years after beginning the journey, I was licensed to preach the Gospel, and I am now an ordained minister in the Baptist Church. At Garrett-Evangelical, I am continually encouraged to "Take Thou Authority!"
What advice would you give someone who is considering pursuing theological education?
The advice I would give to someone considering pursuing theological education is echoed in the Gospel of John 1:46. After Phillip had met Jesus for himself, he attempted to share the Good News with a friend named Nathanael, who doubted him. Because pursuing theological education, coupled with God's grace, has afforded me experiences that words cannot adequately convey, like Phillip, my best advice would be to "Come and see!" You have to experience the journey for yourself, but I believe you will find it to be rewarding!