Justin Whiteley ('16) | M.A. in Christian Ministry
Hometown: Buffalo Gap, Texas
Justin Whiteley thought that getting a college degree at ACU was an impossible opportunity. Coming from a single parent home in which his mother and sisters didn’t graduate high school, he was determined to make his family proud by becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college.
Justin’s grandparents were a big part of his life, and along with his mom, they encouraged him and emphasized the importance of receiving an education. “I worked hard in making sure that I made them proud but at the same time I wanted to set an example for my children by being a transition person in my family system.”
After high school, Justin took a job working with youth for the City of Abilene. Through this job and his friendship with Terrence Crisp, he began to feel that God was calling him to youth ministry. Terrence encouraged Justin to consider going to school at ACU. Justin recalls, “I didn’t really believe it would happen but I received a letter letting me know I was accepted with a scholarship that would allow me to attend ACU. God opened doors then and continued to open doors to allow me to get my master’s degree.” Justin received his undergraduate degree in Youth and Family Ministry from ACU in 2011 and will complete his Master of Arts in Christian Ministry in 2016.
A passion for youth
Justin is passionate about empowering, equipping and preparing youth for their Christian walk in life. “I love to share my passion with my family and include them in the experience I receive in helping young people succeed.”
Today, Justin is the Program Coordinator for Communities in Schools of the Big Country, helping students who have life challenges overcome those challenges and focus on their education. He also serves as the youth minister at the Minda Street Church of Christ. In addition, he’s in the process of completing his Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (M.A.C.M.) at ACU. He enjoys the flexibility of his graduate program, allowing him to complete his degree while being engaged in a full-time job as well as ministry.
Growth and mentoring
The time Justin is spending at the ACU Graduate School of Theology is having a positive impact on his career and ministry, building confidence in his abilities as a minister and opening doors in his professional network.
“It has helped me generate a biblical lens that I try to use in everything I do and given me tools and understanding that I utilize in a practical way in serving our community. It also has given me access to many ministerial relationships with fellow students and faculty, which gives me a network of people who can help encourage me in my Christian walk.”
Justin cites the mentoring component of the Christian Ministry program as one of the highlights of his graduate work at ACU. He says, “It is great to get quality time with faculty with experience and have the freedom to ask questions which relate to ministry. Mentors are needed in all walks of life.”
The ACU experience
Justin enjoys how ACU has made his educational experience practical to his working experiences. He appreciates that he can be around others who may have different beliefs about scripture or ministry, yet he is able to discuss topics in an open and accepting environment where true understanding can occur.
“When I go to a class, I am not going to get information to be able to pass a test. I am getting information that will help me in a practical way in achieving my goals as a professional. I have enjoyed going to class knowing that I will be learning information which will be useful in my career.”