David Wicks thrives on challenge.
“I used to have a T-shirt that said, ‘Easily excited and easily bored,’” he said with a laugh.
That desire for a challenge is part of the reason MA counselling student says he accepted the invitation to be the seminary’s student body president at Briercrest.
“One of the things my wife and I have struggled with is feeling it’s easy to just kind of turn off and kind of coast in the life here,” he said. “I think it’s easy to come here, put in the work and get your degree. I don’t want to just have a degree when I leave here. I want to be changed. I want to be transformed.”
The president-elect also hopes to facilitate transformation for other seminary students as well.
“As I prayed about it and interacted with our team, one of the things that came up for next year is kind of renewing our seminary community’s vision for spiritual transformation,” Wicks explained. “I think the classroom is one component of seminary life, but I think another component is that sense of community – how community can help develop all of us spiritually and together we can all journey through that.”
Wicks is no stranger to transformation. He shakes his head when he thinks about the tremendous changes that have occurred in his life the last six years.
Those changes started with a visit to the Philippines.
In 2006, Wicks, who has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry, needed a change of pace from his work in laboratory automation in Vancouver. He took a leave of absence to go visit friends who had a ministry called House of Jubilee in Davao City on the island of Mindinao.
“The main program there was a feeding program for malnourished kids in the community,” he explained. “But they also had a high school equivalency program for youth. They needed someone to tutor math. I thought, ‘Yeah, why not?’”
Two weeks after he arrived, Wicks was thrown a curve ball. His friends had to return to Canada for a few months and needed someone to stay and run the ministry.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll stay,’” Wicks recalled. “I phoned my boss and said, ‘I’m going to stay a bit longer.’”
That little bit turned into five years when Wicks’ friends were unable to return to the Philippines.
“I ended up falling into being the director of this ministry site,” he exclaimed. “I fell in love with missions work. I think a month into being there I felt like, ‘I don’t want to ever do anything different.’”
The Weyburn native also met and fell in love with his wife during his time in the Philippines. She was completing her college internship at the mission. “She’s not a nurse, but she’s pretty close to one I guess,” Wicks said with a grin. “A lot of things she did there were teaching – on cleanliness, cleaning infections, even brushing teeth – on all these simple things a lot of it is just awareness in these really poor communities.”
One of Wicks’ close friends in the Philippines is the one who encouraged him toward counselling.
“He’s a professional counsellor,” Wicks explained. “He teaches at a seminary there and he said, ‘Why don’t you register for the seminary and come and take a counselling class?’ So I took a counselling class with him and I just loved it.”
The desire for an accredited degree caused Wicks and his wife to look at coming back to Canada for his seminary training.
“In the Philippines we had two friends that worked in a midwifery clinic who were from around here,” he explained. “One had come to Caronport High School. Both of them out of the blue were, ‘Have you thought about Briercrest? It’s great for small families.’ So then we started looking into it and it seemed the right fit.”
The incoming student body president is grateful for his time at Briercrest and Caronport.
“For us, it’s been a combination of a break from full-time ministry, but it’s also a place where I found some space to grow and think and dream about the future and pray,” he said. “I know I’ve grown. It’s a combination of things – it’s interacting with staff, it’s talking to professors after hours in their offices, it’s the community of the (seminary) chapels, it’s knowing other families who are in similar situations who also want to be developed and grow.”
As far as the future, Wicks is open to returning to the Philippines, but right now, he is keeping his options open.
“As far as the sense of adventure, missing the people, missing the food, missing the lifestyle, I think we’d go back,” he said. “Some days I put on worship songs in the dialect that we used to sing and it just brings tears to my eyes. I just miss it. But I couldn’t say right now that’s where God’s called us. I just don’t have a sense of that. I think God’s called us to work with the poor and underprivileged – that’s just where God has our hearts. If it’s not the Philippines, it will be somewhere else.”