Kerwin Santiago is a man on fire for God.
And his desire to be the best pastor and community leader possible led him to seek higher learning at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
The Master of Divinity degree student spoke recently of transformative learning experiences he had during undergraduate studies at PBA that were instrumental in enhancing his leadership and pastoral skills.
Although he had been ministering for many years before coming to PBA , it was during the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in ministry, which he achieved recently, that he uncovered some critical pieces that were lacking in his spiritual journey.
“I was missing something that I believed I found when I came here,” Santiago told a gathering of PBA board of trustees.
Santiago shared two defining moments at PBA where he was able to parlay what he learned to benefit the community he serves as lead pastor of Tabernacle International Church in West Palm Beach.
It was in a Christian Leadership course that he learned key organizational and planning skills that inspired him to spearhead a project to transform an abandoned facility on his church campus, he recollected. Within three months, the neglected building was rehabilitated into a new children’s ministry building that today serves more than 50 children through weekly worship and other God-centered activities, Santiago noted.
During an organizational leadership course with Dr. Jonathan Grenz, his mentor and the school's dean, he was also challenged to develop another project to help meet a need within the Hispanic community he serves.
In thinking about the challenge and closely examining his church ministry, he realized there was a need to broaden its outreach beyond its current native Spanish-speaking congregation. As a result that project became a new church plant to serve the second and third generation of Hispanics within the community who only spoke English. A year after taking that course, the Social Church ministry was launched and just recently celebrated its first anniversary.
“We began with 10 people in the core team, now we have an average of 60 people who are part of church,” Santiago said. “We’re seeing continued growth and consistency in lives coming to Christ because of what I have learned here. I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful to God.”
Santiago's passion for teaching God’s word and biblical truths is evident each week as he delivers a sermon. The married father of four, whose parents were evangelists, knew early on that he wanted to be a preacher.
In summing up his PBA journey, he concluded: “I found two things in particular that really helped me in ministry.”
Those epiphanies were a greater understanding of spiritual disciplines such as silent prayer, which “deepened” his relationship with Jesus Christ, he said. And a strengthening of his faith in God through his PBA education overall and interactions with faculty within the School of Ministry.
“Not only has my education here at PBA strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ, but it has also given me the skills that I have needed to become a better pastor and leader in my community,” Santiago said.