This summer, Laura Peisker has been helping out as an assistant at the YTI office in Bozeman. Currently a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, Laura has been getting a good taste of the YTI vision and adventure in the Northern Rockies.
How did you hear about YTI?
Dr. Smith and Dr. Fowler were both professors at Howard Payne University when I was a student pursuing my undergraduate degree. I never actually took classes from either of them, but I ran into them often. I knew Dr. Smith through the marching band: he wrote our music, announced for us at the football games, and would show up for quite a few of our practices. I met Bill at a fundraising car wash that my sorority was hosting: a few of my pledge sisters had been in his classes, so they ran up to embrace him. His hugs looked so warm and inviting that I walked up to him and asked, “Can I have one of those, too?” Dr. Fowler has been like a spiritual father and mentor to me ever since, helping me through many life situations and choices to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Even after Bill moved up to Bozeman to help Jay start a seminary, he would come and visit me and other former students when he happened to be in Texas, so I learned quite a bit about the vision of YTI.
Laura Peisker takes a break from her duties at the YTI office to experience the wonders of Yellowstone.
Tell us a little about that vision.
When I told one of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary that I was spending the summer in Montana helping the staff at YTI and explained to him the vision Jay and Bill have for it, he commented to me: “America is already post-Christian.” He affirmed the need that Klein Gilhousen envisioned (and that YTI is seeking to address): to provide the Church with a reinvented form of theological instruction that will meet the needs of a changing culture. YTI’s vision for embracing everyone and seeking to have a dialogue between people possessing very different beliefs is challenging and necessary. Not only will the Church have no other option than to be genuine, but our world also desperately needs people to have the humility and grace to listen to one another. And I mean really, really listen: the kind of listening that makes you just want to cry because you have no idea how to handle what you are hearing, since the person talking sounds just like you. And you have nowhere to turn with this confusion but to Jesus.
Can you describe the Gallatin Valley? Your summer in Montana?
Hmm… very different from the Dallas area? Haha! I struggled for the first month or so with truly grasping I was here in the midst of such unbelievable beauty. I feel as if my soul is recharging from spending countless hours listening to the silence at the top of Sacajawea Peak, gazing up at the sunlight through the leaves of the aspen trees, and watching the wind dance in patterns through the wheat fields. This past year was difficult for me, so the summer has been a time of healing and rest. I have loved spending time with the YTI staff and their families, whether that looked like going to movies, playing card games, sharing stories over dinner on a back porch, eating Wilcoxson’s ice cream, or hugging their wiggling dogs.
What has been your favorite part of working with YTI?
The staff. Each co-worker has challenged me and encouraged me so much! Dr. Smith has pushed me to consider why I think the way I do (it’s definitely uncomfortable to think about how you think). And Matt and Kathryn have laughed with me in the office and showed me how to communicate with integrity and professionalism. I know I have grown so much through having deep life-discussions with each person on staff. Their hearts are passionate, genuine, and caring.
What are your plans from here?
I am afraid that I’m headed back to hot, crowded North Texas to continue my Th.M. at Dallas Theological Seminary. YTI does not yet have the biblical languages program that I am interested in pursuing, so I am focusing on that area of study at DTS. I am excited, though, to see where God takes YTI and to possibly be a part of it somehow in the future. I am eager to return to my family and friends in Texas, but I will miss Bozeman and the people here who have challenged me to not just love “with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18, NET)