After earning a 35 out of an unheard-of perfect 36 on the ACT exam, receiving offers from Yale and Harvard Universities and completing three years of college in two, 20-year-old Tori Troen is going against most life-outlooks to follow a higher calling — interning at Pierre’s New Life Church to become an ordained minister.
“I really felt that is where God is calling me to,” Troen said of attending Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, N.D., interning in Pierre, and going into the ministry. “Trinity is one of the last Bible colleges in the country, with most having merged with universities. It’s a small community, but it’s great for training ministers. It can build me up spiritually as well as have rigorous academic classes.”
Troen’s reason for doing almost everything is to learn.
“After Pastor Jake (Krahn) visited Trinity looking for interns, I picked Pierre because New Life’s culture is phenomenal. I want to learn how to establish that caring in my future,” Troen said. “As an intern I came here mostly to learn. As well as helping with things such as the youth group. I want the intentional conversations and doing duties with Jake concerning preaching, weddings, funerals, social issues in ministry and anything else on practical aspects that I may not learn in classes.”
Internships are not meant to be easy, even for a self-proclaimed nerd who likes reading and shuffling through various versions of the Bible — she typically grabs the New International Version because it is a good middle-ground of Hebrew and Greek translation and readability in English.
“The worst thing about being an intern is I don’t have much of an ownership of my duties — it’s more of a servitude — and the limited time. I’ll probably get to know everyone’s names just before I leave,” Troen said.
Her internship runs to mid-August.
“The best, of course, is the learning experience, and the opportunity to fail. If I make mistakes it would be better to do so now, in a safe setting and before-hand of preaching in some small community where I plan to preach in. I am hoping to work somewhere in the midwest, but this next year I will be praying to consider where God is calling me,” Troen said.
Academically inclined or not, she has had obstacles. And some of those meant forging a path different from family expectations.
“My family are not all Christians. I am born-again — intentionally following Jesus. They kind of questioned my motives. It took awhile for them to understand me wanting to value something other than knowing how to learn to get material wealth and retire early,” she said. “They are now proud of me and what I have done in ministry so far.”
She also considered the woman factor.
“Fortunately, Assembly of God is very accepting of women, and I have wrestled concerning women being in leadership of the church. The Bible has some difficult passages, but it does support women in ministry,” Troen said. New life Church is a part of the Assembly of God.
She has goals of internship and beyond too.
“I love being part of a full-time ministry, including behind the scenes, seeing how much time, thought, effort, preparation goes into it,” Troen said. “For others, I want to help you to examine your passions and God-given abilities. Ministry is a people-oriented job. While it may be frustrating and unfruitful, ministry makes an incredible impact when you look at it from an internal perspective. I really don’t think anything else has an internal impact. I love to pour into people, listening to people. I can be outgoing, but am an introvert. When not serving people directly, I am behind the scenes, helping people even when not face-to-face.”
She knows that the internship will change her. Troen said the biggest change would be her perspective when it comes to ministry.
“Through the hermeneutical process of studying the Bible, my head is full of knowledge,” she said. “I am learning to apply things in ways I haven’t thought of before in dealing with people.”
Troen will receive full credentials by the time she graduates. And she already received an associate degree in business administration — helpful in managing a church. Troen also received a bachelor’s degrees in pastoral ministry and Biblical studies. She plans to add a master’s degree in arts for missional leadership.
Her husband of two years, Josh, is with Tori in Pierre. Also a student at Trinity, Josh is learning international studies, focusing on missionary work.
“At some point, God is going to call our strengths together,” Troen said.