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Student ministry director guides teens in spiritual development

First published: Saturday, April 12, 2008 Jonathan Hentrich: Director of student ministries at Christ's Church of the Capital District on Charles Boulevard in Guilderland.

Background: 27. A fourth-generation pastor, he grew up in places where his father was in the pulpit, including Florida, Indiana, Texas and Michigan. In Illinois, he earned a bachelor's degree in preaching and youth ministry at Lincoln Christian College and was ordained at Chillicothe Christian Church. He and his wife, Ashley, came to the Capital Region six years ago and live in Guilderland. He has volunteered helping local senior citizens, building homes in Mexico and organizing the June 20 Nervosity battle of the bands to raise money and awareness for AIDS in Africa through World's Window.

What do you do as a youth pastor? I work with mainly middle school and high school kids. I help out with their spiritual development. The services are put on every Sunday and are done by the teens, for the teens. I kind of help guide it, but it's their creation. You traveled to New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and worked for the Church Plant Organization, which provided support and cash donations to local business owners.

What was that experience like? Not that money cures everything, but you could tell it really lifted their spirits. We were just poor college kids handing out more money than we had ever seen, but to be helping out with people's concrete needs and being part of something bigger than ourselves was pretty cool.

This month, you will be taking your seventh trip to Tijuana, Mexico, to help build homes. You have also traveled to Haiti. What is it that draws you to these experiences? I've got a pretty big heart for people in the Third World.

 When you're in Tijuana, you can look down into San Diego and the difference is pretty dramatic. It's like night and day. When you're there, you learn so much. In many ways they're more content than we are. You've lived all over. How do you like it here in the Capital Region? I love it. I really like Albany. It's a good cross between the city and the country close by. I like to snow ski and water ski, so I get to do both living here.

My family really wants my wife and me to move closer to them in Indiana, but we are both very happy here. Teens aren't typically the most enthusiastic about attending church. Do you encounter that attitude? At some other churches, the kids get dragged there by their parents. But here for the most part, it's the kids that want to come -- 20 to 30 of them come completely by themselves every week. A lot of people want the Bible and Jesus to be taken very seriously. We think the Bible is a very interesting and funny book. Jesus wasn't just a nice guy who was content sitting around, and we try to follow that. -- Trevor Jones

Published Saturday, April 12, 2008 11:54 AM by Zinnia Q.


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