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Boyce senior looks back on relationships, experiences of college
November 22, 2004
By Ericia Boggs

Danielle Gillespie

Building relationships leads to true ministry. That has been the philosophy of ministry for Boyce College senior Danielle Gillespie.

And whether having fun with girls in the dorm or traveling to Africa on a mission trip, this Youngstown, Ohio, native has exemplified the importance of building relationships throughout her college career.

"I have learned a lot not through just what I've learned in the classroom," Gillespie said of her college experience. "Most of what I've learned about myself and others is from the experiences and relationships that I've formed here.

"It's vital to make time for what's important for God and for people. Mentoring relationships are what are really important."

Although she has been blessed by these relationships, Gillespie's heavy involvement in Boyce student life has indeed been a true blessing and ministry to many students and professors as she has served the community in so many ways.

She served on the student council as ministry coordinator for two years and was a "Howdy Group" leader last year. When she first came to Boyce, she sang in both the chapel and dorm meeting praise bands, as well as coordinated much of the music and activities for those events. She has sung in chapel choir and currently plays the viola in the Southern Seminary Orchestra.

Most notably, she has sung with Aletheia, the college's singing/ministry team, her entire college career.

"When I was making my choice on where to attend college, I wanted to go to a school that focused on ministry," Gillespie said. "I wanted to go to a place where I could be involved and active and get to know professors. And I also wanted to go to a school that had a singing team.

"I remembered how singing teams would visit my church and I always wanted to do what they did because they always encouraged me. In fact I still remember members of singing teams that ministered to me as a child.

"I saw that through that ministry I could use music. I could minister to others and relate to and get to know people."

Gillespie's passion for ministry and desire for God began at an early age.

"I was blessed to grow up in a Christian family and I was able to see my parents having a lifestyle of ministry," she said. "They modeled ministry to me. I always saw them going out of their way for others and opening our home to others."

The oldest of five children, Gillespie grew up as a pastor's kid. At age five, she began to ask her parents about the things of God constantly; but because she was so young, they kept putting her off.

This changed on the way back from one of their family vacations.

"I was pretty adamant about it and said, 'I want Jesus to be in my heart,'" Gillespie recalled.

Her father stopped the car and her mom started driving. While traveling down the highway, she climbed into her dad's lap and he led her to the Lord.

"That was the beginning of my journey with the Lord, but it was not until high school that I really started understanding salvation," Gillespie said. "I saw how capable I was of sin."

Although many would not think the sins that Gillespie committed were all that bad, she said that she began to realize that she was not above anything.

"Sin causes us to be [separate from] God," she said. "Sin can isolate us. I began to see my sin how awful it was. But then I realized, 'This is my Savior,' it caused me to begin to worship differently. I remember how deep my joy and freedom was after that."

As she embarks on her fifth and final year at Boyce, Gillespie's joy for the Lord grows and continues to be nurtured through the friendships she has formed.

"The relationships that I have built with people here - especially with the professors and their families is what I have been blessed by the most.

"I have learned so much from the professors by watching them with their families. I appreciate how their teaching is relational and not just theories and going by the book, but the professors bring everything back to where we are now and apply it to Christian living and our relationship with the Lord."

Although Gillespie is slowly backing away from frenzied involvement at Boyce, it excites her to see others taking leadership in areas where she once served.

And she continues to savor and enjoy the experiences and relationships that God brings into her life. She sees these relationships as her being part of these people's ministries further down the road as well as their being apart of her ministry.

As Gillespie concludes her time here at Boyce, she is making plans to pursue a master's degree in vocal performance, possibly at the University of Kentucky. She desires to teach voice one day and perform in oratorios and operas.

"What is so exciting is seeing how God gives us the desire for what He wants us to do," she said. "What I have a passion for now is different from what I wanted to do when I came here.

"You never know what God's going to do. I must stay focused on Him and keep trusting Him."

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