Open Arms and Your Gifts Make an Incredible Impact in the Lives of Students

Published On: March 15, 2017

Pavielle Chriss Jenkins serves as the director of Faith Formation for First United Methodist Church Richardson in Texas. Pavielle’s story of grace and perseverance is truly inspiring. Pavielle used the help she received, including scholarships from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), to enhance her life so that she could help others.  

Read Pavielle’s story below, in her own words, which demonstrates how the open arms of the church and scholarship gifts have made an incredible impact in her life.  

“My father was in a car accident that damaged his frontal lobe, and my mother has suffered from chronic illness for much of her life. Because of these circumstances, I had a lot of responsibility at an early age as the oldest of three girls. Childhood was challenging. There were times when I would arrive home from school eager to complete homework, but the electricity was cut off. There were moments when money for necessities such as food and clothing was scarce. It was through these unfortunate events, that Jesus was made real for me in the neighbors and church members who fed us, who brought us clothes, and provided light for us in a dark time.  

The most vivid experience of this was when we were evicted from our home. By this point, my parents were separated, and my mom was advised to take her three daughters to a shelter. Before she even had time to think about it, a family from down the street took us into their home. It was as if Jesus opened his arms and welcomed us into his warm embrace.  

This family truly lived according to the great commandment and embodied Jesus Christ through their joyous acceptance of us as part of their family. That moment deeply impacted me and continues to shape me and my faith. Because I experienced God’s love and grace in such a way, I cannot help but want to share it with others. 

Moving forward, I became even more involved in mission work through the church. The summer after we lost our home, I traveled to Juarez, Mexico where we built a cinder block home for a family that was previously living in a cardboard box. Through that experience, I learned that no matter how little I might have financially, I am still blessed to be a blessing to others through my time, effort, and presence.  

Shortly after the mission trip, I attended conference camp. During worship one evening, I vividly recall hearing God and having an overwhelming sense of knowing that I was to dedicate my life to ministry.

After speaking with adults at camp and my youth leader, I faithfully accepted my call. Following that experience, multiple doors opened for me to use the leadership skills God blessed me with to serve as a leader in the church. I served as the vice president and president of my youth group, vice chair and chair of the North Texas Conference Council on Youth Ministry, representative to the South Central Jurisdiction Youth Leadership Team, and chair of the National Organization for Youth Ministry.  After high school, God continued to provide ways for me to serve in ministry, including an internship in student ministry at First United Methodist Church Richardson, where I served during all four years of my undergraduate studies in psychology at Southern Methodist University (SMU).   

By graduation, my mother was so ill that I had become the sole provider for our family. To provide for my mother and younger sisters, I thought that I needed to leave the ministry. However, our new youth director asked me to be his partner in ministry. I agreed to work part-time in addition to the full-time position I had at SMU.  

As I reflect on my call to ministry, there is no question that God continues to use my real-life encounters with Jesus to guide me. After years of wrestling with God, I fully accepted my call to ministry after hearing Bishop McKee share his testimony at the Annual Conference in 2013. I stepped out on faith despite the uncertainty of how I would be able to financially support my family. I resigned from my position at SMU, started a full-time position at the church, and began attending seminary at Perkins School of Theology full-time. By God’s grace, I received enough scholarship money each year from Perkins, GBHEM, the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, United Methodist Women, and the North Texas Annual Conference to graduate from seminary debt free.  

 I have absolute clarity that I am called to become a Deacon in The United Methodist Church. I have recently been approved by the North Texas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for commissioning as a deacon at annual conference. There is a burning passion within me to serve people in need, to educate others about the importance of serving, as well as provide opportunities for them to do so. I am also passionate about walking alongside people as they grow in their faith and providing discipleship opportunities. I know that God placed this passion within me and I am faithfully continuing the journey to answer God’s call.” 

For more information on how you can make an impact on people like Pastor Jenkins, please contact Bruce L. Blumer with GBHEM’s Office of Loans and Scholarships and the United Methodist Development Center at or 605-770-5156.

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