I’m going to be featured in Wheaton’s calendar!

This is really cool. I got an email from a girl this week saying that I’m going to be featured in Wheaton’s next Daily Events Calendar! Check this out.

Dear Jeff,

My name is Emily Louise Zimbrick ’05 and I am writing to you from the Wheaton
Alumni Association about a fun opportunity. You have been selected for a page
feature in the 2005-06 Daily Events Calendar! The Wheaton Alumni Association
publishes a calendar planner for every school year and this year’s Daily Events
Calendar will feature Senior Scholarship recipients (that’s where you come
in!). One person will be featured on a page with two paragraphs of text and a
current picture and a picture of your time at Wheaton.

As I read through the files on all the Senior Scholarship recipients, I liked
what I read about you. I have compiled as much info about your time at Wheaton
and your current life, which I have attached to this email with some questions
I’m interested in learning. I would like to interview you on the phone or by
email to give the features more of your thoughts and an update on your life.
I’m a journalist, so a 10-15 minute phone conversation will be more than enough
to get all the info needed.

She also sent me all the data she had compiled about me. I was really impressed at how much she had collected.

Jeffrey Mikels: Class of ’97 Chicago

Now: Pastor at Northwest Baptist Church in Chicago. “He has degrees in Mathematics, Philosophy and Theology but fell in love with a computer and electrical engineer. He has worked as a church worship leader, paper boy, salesman, Internet entrepreneur, drive-through operator, and likes just about any sport that involves a net or a ball.”

Then: Math and philosophy double major, track, student leader, OC worship leader, varsity letter, SG, spiritual life committee, Record, Chapel choir, youth group leader

Ed: Denver Seminary

Wheaton Mag page: Jeff has wanted to be a pastor since he was three years old, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to come to Wheaton and follow the footsteps of his parents Mark ’69 and Linda Spencer Mikels ’69, as well as his youth pastor, Joel Sutton ’82—until, that is, as a high school student he visited campus during a Wheaton Connection weekend. “I walked around campus and it really felt to me like this was the number one place God wanted me to be.” “In all my time here so far, I’ve really come to the conclusion that Wheaton is a very special place. When I look at all the names of the missionary alumni on Blanchard’s wall, I feel close to a history of God’s work.”

Bio Update: Pastoral intern Trinity Baptist Church in Denver

Class notes: “I met Jennifer Battleday and the sparks flew. We got married on May 17, 1997 just after graduation, and then I joined her in the WONDERFUL land of PEORIA! For the next three years, Jen would make most of our money working in the highbrow field of computer programming while I sat on my tookis in classes. We moved to Denver to enjoy two superbowl victories, and when I wasn’t doing anything else, I would sell newspaper subscriptions in grocery stores, hawk products on ebay, and lead worship in a nearby church. Oh yeah, I also attended Denver Seminary. With a Master of Divinity degree under my belt and a new baby boy in our arms, Jen and I shook the Denver dust off our feet and moved back to Chicago to begin the roller coaster ride that is pastoring a church. We’re here now at Northwest Baptist Church (6015 N. Francisco, Chicago // www.nwbc.us) and we’re loving it.

I haven’t heard back from her by phone, so I sent her an email to respond to some questions she asked.

Hi Emily, here are some answers to your questions… feel free to edit as you wish. I do want to ask you one favor, though. Would you please make sure some mention is made about my new church plant venture. Here’s some info.

My wife Jennifer and I have recently been called to launch a brand new church in Lafayette, Indiana. It turns out that it is one of the least churched communities in the state, and even though there are a number of good churches, there are still 90,000 people who have no church connection whatsoever. My wife and I will be launching a new church to reach the young families moving into South Tippecanoe County. More information can be found on my two websites:

How has your Wheaton education influenced your work and ministry today?

My time at Wheaton more than anything else taught me what community should be like. Living in the dorm experience with friends that truly cared about you and with whom you could spend hours at any point during the week and at any time of the day was unmatched by anything else in my life, and it has given me a vision for what Christian community in a church could be like. The dynamic of dorm and college living cannot be duplicated of course, but there are some aspects of it that I deeply wish to see in our churches.

Wheaton’s academic training has also prompted me to place a greater level of emphasis on what is sure and certain in the Bible especially on what the Bible actually says and not on what we have been led to believe by others. I have seen so many people who are stuck in a spiritual rut simply because they have been led to believe some damaging truth that isn’t even in the Bible. Wheaton taught me to think critically about my own beliefs and to think well about the teaching of the Bible.

As a plug, I highly recommend Wheaton’s Philosophy department for any student who wishes to go into vocational ministry. Learning to think and write logically and clearly has been a great asset to me in my preaching and teaching.

Tell me about your ministry.

I am the pastor of a church on Chicago’s Northside. Presently, I am the only ministry staff person in the church. Ours is one of those churches that has experienced greatness in the past, but has declined dramatically over the past 30 years. During my time here, the church has had some victories and defeats and is now at a new crossroads in its history. My wife and I have been called to plant a new church in Lafayette, Indiana, and Northwest Baptist here in Chicago will be looking for a new pastor or a new direction soon.

My personal ministry is based on the simple truth that every single individual has some spiritual growing to do. It’s my passion to help people identify their next step of spiritual growth, whatever that might be, and then to help them take that step with success. I focus on four core values that should be present in every person’s life. Those core values are WORSHIP: I am not number one, COMMUNITY: I will cultivate relationships, GROWTH: I refuse to stay the same, and MINISTRY: I will make a difference.

How is it living in Chicago after going to a suburban school, living in other places?

I grew up in a town much larger than Wheaton but not unlike the environment of the Chicago suburbs. Wheaton wasn’t much of a shift. However, life in the city of Chicago is far different from Wheaton and my home town. The biggest struggle for my wife and I has been the adjustment to the mindset of the people in the city.

Many of the people in the city feel areas are safe and normal when my wife and I feel they are unsafe and shabby. When we first moved to this area, we found many things that were wrong with our church facility, and we thought it would be important to address those issues. We did, and addressing them helped the morale of some in our congregation who cared about such things, but it had no real impact on visitors or people in our neighborhood. They simply didn’t value such property improvements.

At the same time, many of the people in the city have been victimized by the systems of the city. Family systems, job systems, health-care systems, and other such things have created a mindset of helplessness among many who live in the city. As a result, those who have hope and a positive attitude and wish to take personal responsibility for their lives often are the ones to move away to the suburbs or another city entirely. Those who remain are broken, hurting people who desperately need Jesus but who have a mindset about church life far different from that of me and my wife.

For us, ministry in the city is a cross-cultural experience.

How is it being a pastor after wanting to do that for your whole life?

It’s exactly like I thought it would be—including the good and the bad! When I first got the job, it was like my dreams had come true just the way I had planned. However, I allowed myself to get too reliant upon myself and have had some major struggles over the past few years particularly with maintaining my intimacy with God.

What’s the best and hardest things about being a pastor?

The best thing is that you get to see someone’s life transformed by the power of God, His Word, and His Spirit.

The hardest thing is trying to decide when to live up to the expectations of others and when to teach them a lesson and then deal with their disappointment. Dealing with the disapproval of others is very very difficult particularly when you know that if they lose faith in their pastor, they might be inclined to lose faith in the church or even their Lord.

How is your church different?

We are incredibly diverse. Over 20 languages are represented in our congregation of 100! Luckily, most of them speak English.

How long have you been there?

4.5 years

What is your ministry concentration?

I try to do all things well!

Do you stay connected with Wheaton College? Do you return for Homecoming or reunions or participate in club events in Chicago?

I wish that I was more connected. I’ve been to one or two club events, but haven’t heard about anything happening in the last couple of years. I have really wanted to get out for homecoming or other events, but just haven’t been able to make the time to do so. Periodically, I will tune into WETN through the Internet, though.

How did the scholarship help you?

The Senior Scholarship helped me go to Denver Seminary debt-free after graduating from Wheaton.

How do you think about your earlier statement that Wheaton College is a very special place?

My years at Wheaton were without a doubt among the best years of my life. As I said many times while I was there, but “I love this place!” The campus culture, the environment of the Chicago suburbs, the academic training, the tennis courts, the dorm life…everything. I felt about Wheaton the way Harry Potter does about Hogwarts (can I say that?)!

Lives change at Wheaton. Boys become men. Girls become women. Faith grows stronger. Character is built. Only the best enter, but those who emerge are even better. Wheaton isn’t a “bubble.” It’s a chysalis.

What were your favorite memories of Wheaton?

Hanging with friends in Fisher Dorm Lobby until 2AM.

Orientation Worship

Mathematics Labs (yeah really!)


Roulette Dates

The Kay House

The Revival of ’95

Being surrounded by people who love you deeply, but love Jesus more.

One weekend during my freshman year, the RA left to visit his family. While he was gone, the entire floor (yeah Three East!) chipped in to fill (I mean FILL) his room with crumpled up newspaper. When he got back, he dumped all the paper into the hallway, and it filled the length of the hallway up to our knees. I’m not kidding, we spent about 4-6 weeks with newspaper balls in our hallway. It was like living in one of those ball-pits you find in a child’s play area at McDonald’s. And it was a lot of fun.

On a couple occasions, I had the privilege of leading worship in chapel with a band from my house.

What did you do with SG, the Record?

I was Freshman class president.

I was also one of the Directors of the Fisher Spiritual Life Committee during my sophomore year.

I wrote some articles for the Record during my Senior year (1996-97).

What did you run in track?

I ran the 200m and the 4×100 relay.

What was favorite memory of your activities?

Too many to pick one.

I really enjoyed my time at Wheaton College.

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