Marveen Gentillon grew up in a military family. Following high school he decided to attend a military college but during the first semester he questioned his choice. It was difficult to leave the school he worked so hard to attend, but ultimately Gentillon moved home. Before long, he found himself giving Bible studies to secular friends. Then one night his parents asked what he was going to do with his life. “I felt the Holy Spirit come down upon me and said, ‘I’m gonna be a pastor,’” Gentillon recalls.
The next chapter of Gentillon’s life began at Union College. “It was an amazing campus filled with happy faces and I was able to make a lot of friends,” said Gentillon, “but I still found myself struggling spiritually.” He faced daily battles between pride and weakness. Two years into the program, he accepted an internship to become a youth pastor in Hawaii. That year would prove to be transformative. Gentillon learned the truth of the gospel, his identity in Christ, and how he should treat his brothers and sisters. Following that year of ministry he returned to Union to finish his theology degree.
Near the end of his senior year, conference summer camp directors visited campus to recruit camp staff. Gentillon determined that he would work for the summer camp of whatever conference hired him, but no calls came. Then he happened to meet youth directors Ricky and Brooke Melendez. It was not a discussion about camp, just a friendly conversation. A week later he was offered a summer job in the Dakota Conference.
While Gentillon took a week to pray about the decision, he received two other job offers; the first promised potential networking, the second promised less work for better money. “I asked God to guide me to make the right decision, and I knew almost immediately He wanted me in the Dakotas. Something about the ministry there reminded me of the transforming experience I had in Hawaii,” said Gentillon.
Several months went by and COVID-19 hit. Dakota camp directors were forced to reduce the size of their staff due to the virus. Gentillon thanked God for the opportunity and trusted he would be given another. Later that same month he received a tip from a pastor friend to call the Dakota Conference president. After a phone call, a long drive, and a pleasant interview, Gentillon found himself preaching in the Rapid City Church. He was also able to join the team in time for camp meeting which gave him the opportunity to meet the rest of the pastoral staff.
“God brought me to Union College, Hawaii and now the Dakotas,” says Gentillon. “I am extremely excited to experience ministry happening in the Black Hills.”