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One of the many positive outcomes of COVID-19’s waning away is the joy John Brown University has had in welcoming a new student chaplain, Keith Jagger, and his family to campus. Both he and his wife are graduates of Augustana College, where they each earned their bachelor’s degree in religion, and Jagger later earned his master’s in world religions with an emphasis in New Testament.
Jagger’s educational background was a providential equipping for the seven-month missionary road trip he and some of his friends would embark on together. Jagger noted that, in spending a month at three missionary destinations and traveling between them along the way, he and his companions traveled through 23 countries in seven months across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Jagger recalled, “It was fun getting to go see Hindu temples and Buddhist temples and going to the Holy Land, to get to actually see some of the world religions up close and personal that I studied from my time at the university.”
Coming to JBU was a whole other type of journey for Jagger. It was not simply an act of job security; it was being faithful to God’s will. Jagger described the unexpected call to his move. After being a pastor for five years, he sensed that his current calling was “going to come to an end soon,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well…why is God telling me this? I don’t want to leave. I love these people; I love what I’m doing; I love where I’m at.’
Jagger explained that God often leads people to a questioning of their calling months in advance for the calling He has in store for them. The stirring of these questions led Jagger to wonder what God was calling him to. “As I was searching, I came across this specific role—a university campus pastor—and I thought … ‘Wow … if God truly led me into doing that, I’d really love it.’” Jagger said. “‘It was really that initial stirring of God that He’s going to be shifting our life … and it all just kind of came together.”
God called Jagger and his family to JBU for a reason. In relation to students, Jaggers sees himself as “an older brother in the faith who has walked a little bit and learned a little bit more.” He hopes to be an aid to students in understanding their calling as well as simply being an encouragement to them.
Jagger doesn’t limit his parish to JBU students. He also has compassion for those who assist in equipping students for the working world. He said, “I hope I can be … an encouragement and support to [other faculty and staff] as well.”
For all that God has called Jagger to do for JBU, there is something JBU can do for him. “If you send me a card, ‘Praying for you, Keith,’ that will go a lot further than you ever imagined.” He added, “Don’t be shy. I want to be a part of your lives. I want to get to know you.” Jagger welcomes students to set up a time for coffee with him or to approach him anytime, even if it is just to say hello.
When asked what one Scripture he would like to remind us of, Jagger chose the story of when Thomas believed Christ’s Resurrection. “I think all of us, in this day and age, are faced with doubts … and I just love how Jesus is so gentle with doubt … [Jesus] says to Thomas … ‘You have believed because you have seen. But blessed rather are those who have not seen, and yet believe.’”
“I think what Jesus wants from us is to wrestle through our doubts,” Jagger continued. “If we give them to Him with sincerity, He will show up. But there is this beauty of not needing to see miracles … It’s a simple child-like trust which we are called.”
His message of advice to everyone: “Stay true to God’s character. Don’t be swayed by pressures that aren’t godly…Trust in who God has called us to be even though the cultural pressures are quite large … He has called us, and what we have to offer is legitimate and important.”
One thing is for sure: JBU has found a faithful, kind pastor who is more than happy to say hello—no doubt about it.
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