Bay Area’s residency program, designed to equip and train pastors and missionaries for full-time ministry, currently has five participants, including Trevin Hoekzema. Prior to joining the residency, Trevin served on staff at Bay Area from 2012-2017, most recently as Local Outreach Coordinator. For over 10 years, he’s had a passion for global missions; Trevin has been on or led more than a dozen short term missions trips around the world. With a heart for seeing the nations reached with the gospel, he joined the residency in September 2017 with the hope of one day becoming a missions pastor. Here’s what he has to say about his experience so far:

Q: Before we talk about missions, recap for us how you came to faith.

A: I grew up in a Christian home, going to Grace Community Church. I went to a private elementary school where I got a great foundation of Bible stories and a generic understanding of the gospel. Middle school is when I started to see a different side of the world that looked more fun, didn’t include Jesus and wasn’t obedient to Him. By the time high school hit, I had done a really good job of having my Christian church life and my not-so-Christian school life and kept them separated. My junior year, I was signed up to go on my class missions trip with the church; they also had trips for future leaders and they invited me to do that. So in one summer, I was going to go on two missions trips and I thought, “Look at me, I’m living two lives and doing it successfully.” But the Holy Spirit smacked me around at a retreat and I fell on my knees because I felt the Lord saying, “You’re not going to go to the world to share my name if you’re not actually living for me, so make a decision.” That was when I finally legitimately committed my life to Christ.

Q: Tell us about your passion for missions.

After making that commitment my junior year, I went to Liverpool, England, to serve with Youth With A Mission. There was a moment where we went to a Korean church, and we were singing “How Great is Our God.” The students were singing in Korean, I’m singing in English, and I just had this picture – this is what Heaven is going to be like, we’re going to have multiple backgrounds and cultures, people expressing their faith in Jesus, and I want to be a part of seeing God’s Kingdom come to fruition here on earth, to see all people groups, all cultures come and worship Him. I started understanding the need for missionaries to reach unreached people groups. When Jesus is saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” He’s talking about those people. Going into my senior year of high school, I was sold out.

Q: Tell us about your calling to transition off staff at Bay Area to join the Residency Program.

A: Since that first missions trip, I’ve made intentional decisions that would prepare me for overseas ministry. I went to the University of Maryland and pursued a degree that I thought would get me a job working overseas. When I graduated, my mentor knew Casely Essamuah, who was looking for an assistant. I interviewed and said, “I would love this job but I’ll only be here for a year. My girlfriend and I are engaged, and once we get married we’re going to move to Ghana because we have an opportunity there.” He asked if I would give him a year and a half, and five years later I was still on staff at Bay Area.

In 2015 Casely asked me to lead a trip to Southeast Asia, and I reluctantly said yes because when Casely asks you to do something, you just do it. Five of us went on a trip to Southeast Asia, and I came back with my heart absolutely broken for Muslims. The next year, my wife and I led a team together and came back believing God was calling us to move to SE Asia. There were clear bi-vocational opportunities, so we went back in 2016 for a month and served with the missionaries there. When we came back, we realized the opportunity was great for me, but not for my wife because she didn’t have teaching experience. It was a hard decision to make because I had spent the last 10 years, so I thought, leading up to this moment.

As I processed, I asked, “If now is not the time to move overseas what does it look like to stay here but still be committed to this passion and calling of seeing the local church take the gospel to the unreached?” Well, that would be a missions pastor – all over the world, they are in charge of inspiring, equipping and taking the local church to the unreached.

Q: What does the residency look like? What are you doing?

The residency is designed for people who are aspiring to full-time ministry but are lacking some of the biblical knowledge, character development, skills or experience. It’s two parts: there’s the Bay Area-prescribed coursework. On average, we read a book a month, and we have to outline and orally present from memory a book of the Bible each month. We have a paper a week that we write about a theological topic. The other half, for me at least, is seminary – I’m in a masters of arts in global leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Q: What has God been teaching you about yourself through the residency?

The biggest thing that I have learned in the past six months is how much I lack self-discipline, and how much I am motivated by the approval of others. With a study that’s a lot of times alone – we meet every week to discuss – but throughout the week nobody’s looking over my back to tell me to finish my homework. No one is saying, “Good job, you read another page,” although my wife does tell me she’s proud of me all the time, which is helpful. So I’ve learned that I really need to find my identity in being a child of God and simply that.

Q: What have you been learning about leadership?

I just read a book on discernment, and I was really excited because I thought, “Sweet, I’ll get a three-step plan for how to discern the moving of the spirit and the will of God and to lead people in that.” Although there were some very clear steps and plans, the bottom line was to pray and read your Bible. Leadership comes down to intimate time in the Word and a committed time praying and spending time with Jesus.

Q: What have you been learning about global missions?

The more I share the gospel cross-culturally, the more I need to understand the culture that I’m interacting with to be able to shed light on the part of the gospel that’s going to most impact them and speak to their life.

Q: What has God been teaching you about His heart for the nations?

It’s part of Bay Area’s missions statement – making passionate, maturing followers of Jesus from here to the nations. God’s heart is in that – God wants all people to proclaim His name. I’m motivated by God’s heart, which is to see all people, all forms of worship, all forms of culture fulfill what God made them to be, which is His children, His servants, people who worship Him.

Q: Where do you go from here in the residency? What do the next 18 months look like?

There was a portion of my life where I would try to plan out my future, and I’ve stopped planning and just try to predict where God is leading and go on that path. Over the next 18 months, I will continue to learn a lot and pursue ordination. I’ll finish my degree two years from now. In a year, year and a half, I’ll start applying for jobs to be a missions pastor. My wife and I are super open-handed with this. If God leads us overseas in the next year and a half, cool. If God leads us to a church in Maryland, cool. If God leads us to a different part of the country, cool.