Jonathan Der

Student Ministry Pastor

 

Born and raised in St. Louis, my father a med school professor and my mother a nurse, the middle of three children. …was usually in trouble.

 

My education includes B.A. English Literature, B.A. Religious Studies, Pre-Med, Washington University in St. Louis. Graduate School was M.Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield IL.

 

I started in youth ministry in 1993 and have worked in Chinese-American, Asian American and Anglo churches, both urban and suburban and one pretty beach-y, large and mid-sized, in St. Louis, Chicago (twice), southern CA, Denver, and now here in MD! (Fun Fact: I was also certified as an interior stylist for a design company while in between churches.)

 

Interests

  • Married to my beautiful wife Sonja, with our two incredibly talented children, Sydnee and Colin.

  • Volleyball, water polo, cheerleading (is SO a sport!), figure skating (ditto!), gymnastics, and the Olympics! But sure, we can watch your sport if you don't mind the billions of dollars spent that could go towards starving children in the world. =D

  • Dance, theatre, orchestra and opera performances (I’m just shy of my ballet minor!)

  • Asian foods, American foods, Ethnic foods, all the other foods

  • Pop culture, movies, smart TV shows, good sci-fi, pretty much anything Young Adult

  • I've always wanted to learn how to sail

  • Other peoples’ pets

  • I don't speak any Asian languages

  • Whomping on teenagers in card and board games

  • Why? How much time do you spend on your hair in the morning?

  • World-ranked in Minesweeper. #notashamed

  • I read. Lots.

  • Doing whatever or being wherever our teenagers are!

Sonja Der

Small business owner of The Bridge Leadership Consulting

Favorite vacation:  Anything that involves my family; going somewhere tropical together.

 

Your hobbies:  Reading, outdoor exercise, leadership.

 

What’s one thing that might surprise people about you?  I love kick-boxing & am very competitive.

 

What do you say to people who don’t get why you spend time with students?  It keeps me young.

 

Funniest 1-3 sentence story about / with a student:  It was really fun going on my first High School retreat and having the kids cheer me on as I did the rock climbing wall and the ropes course!

 

The nine words you’d use to encourage a potential high school ministry volunteer:  Love, flexibility, open-mindedness, compassion, balance of grace & truth, authenticity, encouraging, listening, humility.

 

What’s the one thing you think a student will definitely receive from being in Quest:  Acceptance.

Audrey Lupisella

Bible study author of Impartial, devotional and blog writer

 

Favorite: Sweatpants. I do my best life in sweatpants.

 

Hobbies:  I literally could live life on the couch or outside under a tree READING. All day. Everyday. Other than that, I love anything music related (dancing, singing, playing piano). And I love to bake!  

 

What’s one thing that might surprise people about you?  I’m really just a crochety old lady at heart.

What do you say to people who don’t get why you spend time with students?  These students are dealing with serious life issues and are asking really hard questions. I love being challenged by them, as well as the blessings of being in relationship with them. I love to see how God is working in and through them, building up a heart for Him and a heart for people through Quest ministry.

 

The nine words you’d use to encourage a potential high school ministry volunteer:  It is infinitely rewarding and continually surprising. Jump in!

 

What’s the one thing you think a student will definitely receive from being in Quest:  I think students feel safe and loved at Quest. They can bring their whole selves and be loved as they are, while learning how to become like Jesus.

Danni Lupisella

Cybersecurity Engineer

Favorite: Sports team - Boston Red Sox; Food - Italian

Hobbies: Soccer and working around the house


What’s one thing that might surprise people about you? I had surgery on my toe for a cactus thorn.

What do you say to people who don’t get why you spend time with students?Our kids are the future of our church and high school can be a very difficult time. High school students don’t want to listen to their parents because they don’t think they can relate for some strange reason but if they hear it from other adults who aren’t their parents then it seems to sink in. Funny how a kid’s mind works that way.

Funniest 1-3 sentence story about/with a student:  I was asked to play on a short-sided soccer tournament with one of the students but I couldn’t because he said I was too old. Of course, he said “there was an age requirement” and I said I was told to play and he just
nodded.


The nine words you’d use to encourage a potential high school ministry volunteer: This time in their life is when you matter.


What’s the one thing you think a student will definitely receive from being in Quest: Positive challenges!

Margaret Mikulich

Safety & Health Manager / Certified Safety Professional

 

Favorite: Spring!!

 

Your hobbies: Reading, gardening, napping, hanging out with my family.

 

What’s one thing that might surprise people about you?  I work in construction, which means I work with mostly men.  Over the years I’ve occasionally had to go toe-to-toe / in-your face with big burly construction guys to get them to listen & be safe!

 

What do you say to people who don’t get why you spend time with students?  I tell them these kids are not as scary as they seem when you talk to them one on one or in a small group.  That I’m committed to being a part of my child’s high school experience as she grows in the Lord, and that means being a part of the high school ministry.  And that I like the thought that maybe talking to a new student who seems a little lonely may help them come back again, and that it’s awe-inspiring to watch other students see a new student & come get them & draw them in – I would never have been that brave in high school.

 

Funniest 1-3 sentence story about / with a student:  I’m afraid if I tell a funny story it would involve one of my kids and they would disown me … !

 

The nine words you’d use to encourage a potential high school ministry volunteer:  These students are the brightest hope of our future!

 

What’s the one thing you think a student will definitely receive from being in Quest:  A grounding in being a Christian from a teenage perspective.  It’s one thing to be taught at by grown-ups, but the interaction with their peers, combined with the incredible adult guidance, is invaluable.  Students see they are not alone – others are experiencing similar problems and are also ministered to by their peers.  Students get the opportunity to really serve, and the value of being able to get out of their own selfish teenage place & serve others cannot be overstated.  All these things help them stay grounded as they graduate and go onto all the college stresses and temptations, and lays a foundation that will serve them well their whole lives.

Carly Williams

Elementary teacher turned stay at home mom and wife! And can't forget our family photo booth business!

Favorite: Snuggling with my two adorable daughters on a rainy day.

Hobbies: Family time, long walks, hiking, beach trips, traveling, working out, shopping, crafting, spending time with other moms, decorating/organizing and rearranging!

What’s one thing that might surprise people about you? I have a lot of life experience for my age.

What do you say to people who don’t get why you spend time with students? My story. I am able to take past pain that I have overcome and been healed from, and help others with similar struggles. My journey was not for nothing. I choose to share my story to help others, especially young women, stop searching for their value in everything but the One thing that will satisfy. Jesus Christ. And if I can reach  even just one girl, then it will all have been worth it.
 

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