Tell us about your younger years and where you grew up.
I was born in Kansas, but grew up on the western side of North Dakota in Dickinson. I am the youngest of a mixed family of seven kids, with four older brothers. With all the different personalities around me, I learned everything from cooking and cleaning to fixing engines and pouring concrete. Most of my younger years were filled with camping, fishing and playing or watching sports.
Brooke, you recently graduated from the University of Jamestown with a double major in religion and cross cultural communication and a minor in Christian ministry. How involved were you in religious activities on campus before graduation?
The best experience I had throughout my time in college was not wrapped up in an event or specific activities but rather the process of journeying with Jesus and figuring out who He is and who I am in light of that.
It is easy to look back and say I was very involved in religious activities and different ministries on campus, serving in various leadership roles and even as a student chaplain. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that the most significant and meaningful ministry God allowed me to partner with Him in was wrapped up in daily walking with those around me, which was only possible because of the wrestling I did in my own relationship with Him along the way.
I understand that you have been preaching for several years in various churches.
I preached for the first time during my sophomore year of high school. For many years, I was absolutely terrified of public speaking and refused to get up in front of people. I avoided it at all costs and reluctantly accepted only a few different invitations during high school.
Once I got into college, I was extended an opportunity to be on a summer pulpit supply list for a tiny, rural, split-parish Presbyterian church. I began preaching to those congregations and was soon invited to preach in other Presbyterian churches, Lutheran churches, United Congregational churches, and ultimately Adventist churches. I see God’s grace so vividly in accepting these invitations because I have never felt as though preaching is a gift that I have. It is where I feel the weakest, the most exposed, and the most inadequate. It is also where I hear the voice of the Lord saying, “My grace is sufficient…” because He does not let His word return empty.
What drew you to the Adventist church?
The truest and simplest explanation can be summed up in one word: Jesus. I met the first Adventist of my life last September when Pastor Rick Melendez stepped on the University of Jamestown campus as the Dakota Conference’s first public campus pastor. When he introduced himself to me, I was hesitant and skeptical, to say the least. Halfway through a meeting with him about the existing ministries on the UJ campus, I asked him about Adventist beliefs. He openly answered all of my questions with grace, humility and deep sincerity and love for his church.
When he followed up his answers with the same questions for me, I didn’t have many solid answers about my traditional Lutheran beliefs. We became friends and, shortly after, ministry partners, as we started the first branch of Just Jesus. with a Bible study group in my apartment on campus. As our friendship grew, I researched, read, prayed and asked questions.
In November of last year, I began attending the Jamestown church with another divinely appointed friend, RaeLea Frishman. That month I left the church I had spent my life in. After a conversation with one more divinely appointed friend, Pastor Anna Romuald, I finally gave up my reluctance and was baptized into the church by Pastor Melendez in February.
We continued to minister together in Jamestown and Fargo, along with developing a website for the ministry and planning the first Just Jesus. Conference that took place in August. A month after that, the Dakota Conference hired me as a full-time pastor to continue building Just Jesus. ACM with Pastor Melendez.
What initially drew me to the Adventist Church and continues to draw me daily is the Spirit that dwells within it. I’ve experienced a dozen or more denominations, but there is something innately different about the Adventist Church. I believe it shares a message that is deeply beautiful and deeply hopeful—the message of the gospel. I was drawn into the Adventist Church by Christ’s method alone in order to proclaim His death, resurrection and soon return.