December 12, 2019

Tamiko Turner didn’t graduate from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, but it’s her time at the university that shaped the pastor and person that she currently is.

Turner now serves as the Next Gen Pastor at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, in Kansas City, where she moved to marry her high school sweetheart after her first two years of college in OKWU’s School of Ministry and Christian Thought. Newly married and back home, Turner finished her ministry preparation, completing the remainder of her degree online.

 

Don’t you dare doubt the woman that God has made you to be. It’s going to be hard sometimes, but hold on. There are moments that are so worth it. Don’t you dare let someone distract you from who God says you are: you are loved, and you are called, and you are useful in the Kingdom, no matter what that looks like. You are useful and you are needed.”

 

Growing up, her family was always strongly Christian. Her father served as a pastor and planted a church in the Kansas City area when she was in high school. Partly due to this strong spiritual heritage, Turner never had any doubt about what she was supposed to do in life. “I have felt called to be a pastor since I was very young,” she said. “Did I know what that looked like? No, not exactly.”

Nor did she know exactly where she was supposed to study at college. OKWU wasn’t on her radar, at least not until her parents discovered the school and encouraged her to apply. That encouragement, according to Turner, was very simply a ‘God thing.’

“It’s kind of luck, maybe? Divine intervention? I don’t know,” she said. “[Coming here] was an act of faith… I had not seen anything about, had not heard about it.”

Once on campus, though, Turner was impressed – and immediately challenged to grow and make her faith her own. “You can’t live on Mommy and Daddy and Grandma’s prayers forever. You have to make it your own,” she said.

Her challenge on campus wasn’t only spiritual. For the first time in her life, Turner found herself in an environment where she could question, think, and formulate foundational beliefs. “I came into college as a pastor’s kid and someone who was studying to be in ministry thinking I wasn’t going to learn much,” she said. “[But] I would not be the Christian that I am today if it had not been for me going to OKWU and having those specific professors and have them push me to question things in a healthy way… It’s not necessarily questioning God, it’s about questioning what you believe about God.”

Looking back, it was the OKWU faculty that stood out to Turner. “It was the interactions with the professors that really felt different to me,” she said. “That really set it apart for me. It really seemed like they cared.” Specifically, she points to Dr. Darek Jarmola and Dr. Jerome Van Kuiken as significant, guiding influences during her time at OKWU.

 

A Desire to Be Useful

That’s not to say that her journey didn’t include challenges. Specifically thinking about the conversation surrounding Beth Moore and John McArthur in the Baptist denomination this fall, Turner is quick to point out that, at times, other people’s perception of her calling to be a pastor as a woman was challenging.

She faced at questions at times about her place in ministry as a woman, but she says those questions were never made by OKWU faculty. The professors within the School of Ministry were always supportive of her calling, especially her faculty advisor, Dr. Mike Fullingim. “He had nothing but support for me,” she said.

 

“I just want to be faithful wherever God wants me to be.” 

 

Still, the experience only emboldened Turner to be a strong encourager of other women in ministry. “Don’t you dare doubt the woman that God has made you to be,” she said when asked what advice she would give to other women serving in the ministry. “It’s going to be hard sometimes, but hold on. There are moments that are so worth it. Don’t you dare let someone distract you from who God says you are: you are loved, and you are called, and you are useful in the Kingdom, no matter what that looks like. You are useful and you are needed.”

Turner’s enjoying her own usefulness in the ministry of her church, working with youth and young adult students. It’s not what she would have expected, but it’s been surprisingly rewarding. “God is funny,” she said. “I said I would never be a youth pastor and here I am, and I think it’s my favorite ministry thing I’ve ever done.”

As to the future?

“I just want to be faithful wherever God wants me to be.”