Meet the Staff: Samantha McRae

This week we’d like to introduce a very important staff member. Without this person, our ministry would undoubtedly come to a screeching halt. Samantha McRae does everything from cooking breakfasts to running the behind the scenes administration that keeps our ministry going. Sam plays a crucial role in making Emmaus what we are today. Let’s dive in and learn more about Sam and her role on staff.

What do you do around Emmaus?

I am one of the "hosts.” Essentially, this means I am part of the team that plans and prepares our weekly breakfasts and our community events.

I am the calendar queen, I know, sounds important. I work on keeping our schedule clear and make sure there are no conflicts between the Emmaus and Canterbury Retreat Center’s schedules. (I also secretly aspire to be the “Emmaus Mom” pertaining to birthdays and such, but we’ll see what happens. We do have quite a few moms in our midst now.)

I also assist in the financial department, grade student assignments, and disciple female students through what we call “one-on-one's”. Oh, and I check the mail, so that’s pretty cool..

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love the staff I get to work with, in some ways they are my family. The women have become some of my dearest friends and I’m so thankful for each of them in my life. I very much enjoy the discipleship aspect of working with students, seeing another woman, a sister/friend, drawing closer to Jesus through the truth of God's Word is amazing, I feel so blessed to be able to live life beside these women as we each grow in our faith and understanding of who God is and who he made us to be. (And I really enjoy preparing breakfast and organizing schedules. Breakfast and organization make me happy.)

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

In the fall of 2016, during my student year at Emmaus School of Biblical Studies, that’s when I first considered the option of staying on as a staff member after graduation.

Which Bible character would you want to get coffee with?

I think it could be interesting to speak with Rahab and hear her story, including her reasoning behind choosing to follow the Hebrew God, instead of following whatever gods she had been serving until that point in her life. I sometimes wonder if her reasoning was merely fear induced or if she was secretly yearning for the true God and the fall of Jericho presented the opportunity. Either way, I admire the way she took a stand and saved those in her household.

Another person I would like to speak with would be Ruth. I’ve heard her praised for her faithfulness and disparaged for her blind following of others but I’m interested in knowing her heart. Why did she do the things she did? How was she feeling in those situations?

Why Emmaus?

Originally, Jacob and I came to Emmaus School of Biblical Studies merely because they would accept me without having experienced a YWAM DTS. (YWAM = Youth With A Mission and DTS = Discipleship Training School) But, after spending some time around the staff of Emmaus, we realized they lived life differently than we had experienced anywhere else. We wanted to live lives immersed in the Word of God alongside other children of God. Emmaus seemed like the right fit for us. We wanted to be part of a community that actively sought the will of God, whether it was simple or not. We no longer wanted the "easy life" we had been living before. (I know, that sounds crazy. Easy sounds much better than difficult. But, Jesus makes it all worthwhile.) And we wanted to see people embrace the truth of the Bible for themselves. It transforms you. Jesus transforms people by loving them where they are. Once you accept His love your entire mindset changes. He loves you enough to challenge your preconceived notions and to convict you to change, to become a better version of yourself. And he loves you through the challenges, even when you fail. That’s the kind of God we serve and He’s who we attempt to imitate in this ministry.

Samantha and her husband Jacob are currently raising support! Please consider joining them as financial partners in ministry, if you would like to do so, follow the links below!

New Classroom Fund
New Classroom Fund
$0 $12,000
Current Funding: $1410

In 2015, Emmaus School of Biblical Studies relocated from Western North Carolina to Central Florida and our new base at Canterbury Retreat Center. It was at that time that we rebranded as Emmaus Ministries to reflect a growing heart to equip all Christ-followers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Inductive Bible Study and Authentic Relationships. In addition to our School of Biblical Studies, Emmaus now provides Biblical Literacy Seminars for churches, designed to help believers understand and connect to their Bible. Along with this, this past year we launched our new Biblical Narrative Series, which invites people who work during the day to be a student of the Scriptures through this series of evening classes which survey the history and heart of every book of the Bible.

In the midst of all the blessings we have experiencing these last few years, we have lacked a consistent, intentional, set-aside space for us to provide Biblical training, community discipleship, and for the staff to work together in the ongoing development of the ministry. This has lead to a semi-mobile classroom, unpredictable workspace, and limited ability to develop new programs. This is why it is such an exciting time for Emmaus, as Canterbury has now provided us with the opportunity to lease an 800 sq.ft. building, which we can set up as a much needed center for training, discipleship, and ministry development.

Over the month of July we are raising $12,000 which will help cover the cost of leasing this new space for the upcoming year as well as equipping it as an ideal center for training the Church to engage their Bibles and follow Jesus. Please prayerfully consider investing in the life and ministry of Emmaus as we enter this exciting new season here in Central Florida!

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Greeting Emmaus friends and family. Julia and I are thrilled with what God is doing in and through Emmaus Ministries in Central Florida. Now more than ever, Emmaus needs the support of it’s alumni and friends. Julia and I are committed monthly supporters, and we’re making a lump sum gift to help offset the increase in lease expenses at Canterbury as they set-up this new classroom. I am asking you to join in that effort with us through a special one-time contribution. There is no better way to impact the body of Christ than to send young people into every church equipped with a solid knowledge of the Gospel and God’s word. That is what Emmaus has always been about, and they can’t do it without us. Lets partner with them in this amazing ministry!
— Tom Phillips - Founder of Emmaus Ministries
Meet the Staff: Kristi Marsh

Kristi Marsh is one of our newest members to the Emmaus staff! Recently Kristi was teaching the Bible at a high school in Tennessee. She left her full time job to become a missionary on our teaching team. Kristi loves teaching about theology and engaging with students one on one. She’s passionate about discipleship and community which means the perfect fit for our staff. What she’s not passionate about, is the summer Florida weather! Let’s take some time to get to know Kristi!

What do you do around here?

As with most ministries we all wear a lot of different hats. I joined the staff in January and I teach in the school and get to disciple students one-on-one. I will be helping to organize some of our community events and facilitating opportunities for students to get to know each other and the staff. I also get to network with different churches and pastors regarding our Narrative Series and Seminars. I will soon start teaching Seminars and will also be a part of our ongoing development of the Seminars. It's an honor for me to spend my week studying and teaching Scripture and connecting with so many people.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

It's hard to say since I really enjoy all of the aspects of my job. I love studying the Word to teach it to others and getting to watch the Scripture come alive for people. I also really love getting to walk alongside of people and disciple them, but I think the most unique part of this job is the privilege of spending every day working and doing life with people who are passionate about God. The authentic spiritual community at Emmaus has been a huge blessing.

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

I had been praying about leaving education and after taking a Strategic Futuring class last March God made it pretty clear that Emmaus was the next step. The final project of the class was to write a very detailed paper of where we wanted to be in 15 years. It was a very specific assignment and when I called Caleb (my long time friend and Director at Emmaus) he described almost everything I had written in that paper! I had initially been resistant to moving to Florida (it's too hot and too far from home) and becoming a missionary but within 24 hours God completely changed my heart and I made the decision to join the team. It was definitely the right decision.

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

That's hard, I don't like having to make this choice. I recently saw a drama that showed Peter as a young man and followed him until he was martyred. It was really powerful and connected me to Peter in a new way so if I have to choose, then today, I will choose to get coffee with Peter. Tomorrow I will choose Paul.

What was your favorite Christian Song to Jam out to growing up?

I was, and am, a big Shane and Shane fan. However, you don't really "jam out" to their worship music. So I guess I'll have to go with DC Talk.

Why Emmaus?

My passion is for people to know God and His Word and to grow and be transformed. I think that happens best in the context of consistent relationships and intentionally studying God's Word and applying it to your life. Emmaus is the full package for me. I believe that what we do, and how we do it, provides a space for the Holy Spirit to really transform people. Only the Holy Spirit can change hearts but I think Emmaus creates a meaningful and unique opportunity for the Holy Spirit to do a deep and enduring work. It is a special season of life where someone comes to devote themselves to God and the study of Scripture, and not only are they discipled and equipped with tools for a lifetime but their lives are usually changed in the process. I wish everyone could spend a year of their life at Emmaus.

If you would like to learn more about Kristi and receive her personal blog updates, follow the button below. If you would like to join Kristi as a regular supporter follow the button below.

Meet the Staff: Jacob McRae
Jacob McRae with his wife Sam McRae

Jacob McRae with his wife Sam McRae

One of the first things people tend to notice about Jacob McRae is his amazing beard! One of the next things that people will notice is his genuine heart for people and for helping them see the Gospel through service. Jacob grew up in Virginia, after his DTS (Discipleship Training School) he moved to Homer Alaska where he meet his wife Samantha. Jacob and Samantha moved to Florida to be students at Emmaus’ School of Biblical Studies before coming on staff 2 years ago. Jacob is on the teaching team, manages student administration/admissions and oversees all of the meals and social gatherings at Emmaus.

What do you do around here?

My role here at Emmaus includes a variety of jobs. Most of my time is spent as a part of our teaching staff. This means that I spend the majority of my weeks studying and preparing to teach books of the Bible for our students, grading, and meeting with students for discipleship one-on-ones. Secondly, I'm in charge of handling admissions for Emmaus, which means processing applications, connecting with potential students, and helping them to prepare for their time here. Finally, my wife and I team up in order to prepare a delicious breakfast for our students every day before class.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

As most of our staff would probably agree, one of the most rewarding aspects of this job is getting to see the Scriptures come alive for our students, it's an incredibly powerful experience! But, being a new, self-proclaimed Bible nerd, I immensely enjoy preparing to teach books. Nothing helps you understand book like preparing to teach it and I’ve very much enjoyed the aspect of getting to really dig deep into the texts. I've definitely come to learn a lot during my time as staff, and it's even more fun to do so in a whole community of other Bible nerds!

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

When I was a student at Emmaus, I once accompanied our Director to a men's Bible study that he was teaching that morning. At that time, I still had plans to pursue other passions of mine (in this case woodworking). But I remember sitting in that Bible study and listening to our Director speak about the Bible with such ease and understanding and he did so in such a relevant way that clearly impacted the men at that Bible study. It was in that moment that I found myself thinking, "I want to know my Bible like this guy more than I want anything else!" From then on, the passion to help others know their Bible in a deep and intimate way has continued to grow in me day by day.

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

First answer would probably be the author of Hebrews....I just want to know who that person is...I mean come on, just sign the letter! My second answer would probably be Daniel. Through the process of teaching for the school, Daniel has become my absolute favorite book of the Bible. Daniel is someone who faced innumerable trials and gut-wrenching situations and still proved to be one of the few Old Testament characters that continually served as a model of righteousness and faithfulness throughout his life. I want to know that guy!

What was your favorite Christian Song to Jam out to growing up?

As any decent 90's youth group kid should answer, my go-to's were anything by Relient K, Five Iron Frenzy, and the O.C. Supertones.

Why Emmaus?

Growing up in an incredibly loving, Christian household/church, I lived my life with the constant notion that my Bible was supposed to mean something to me, but the truth was that it just didn’t! Regardless of how many times I vowed to read through the Bible in a year, I often fell off the wagon somewhere in Exodus. Here was a book that was supposed to lead and define my faith and yet I didn’t know how to read it and found it incredibly intimidating! This shook me to my core, and it sent my wife and I on a path towards Emmaus. After I embarked on my own “Emmaus Road journey,” to encounter God through His Word, I truly did feel my own heart burn within me (Luke 24:32). My wife and I suddenly found strong purpose in the mission of Emmaus Ministries, to help equip others with the Word of God. I want every believer to understand that knowing the Bible in a deep and intimate way is a goal very much within reach, and that it’s never too late to start your own Emmaus Road journey!

If you would like to join Jacobs financial partnership team or read his blog click the links below.

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Meet the Staff: Stephen Ray

This week we want to introduce you to Stephen Ray. After Graduating college at Oakland University, Stephen moved from Michigan to be a student at Emmaus. After his student year, Stephen joined the staff. He’s now been a part of the teaching team at Emmaus for 2 years.

All right Stephen, what do you do around here?

I have my dream job here at Emmaus, I am a part of the teaching staff. This means I get to teach entire books of the bible for our school, Biblical Literacy Seminars and even our Biblical Narrative Series. I'm also in charge of the weekly devotions that we do with as a community, grading homework and meeting for one on ones with our students.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

My favorite part of my job is seeing the moment of discovery in the students. Whether it be our part time School of Biblical Studies students or people attending one of our seminars, I love seeing people “Get it!” It could be a specific book of the bible is coming alive or the gospel is getting deeper and deeper into their hearts as they dig into the text.  

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

When I was a student I remember working on my homework for 2nd Corinthians. I was getting so excited about these New Testament books coming alive to me for what felt like the first time. As I was studying, I thought, “Man i wish i could keep going deeper.” At that moment, I felt like God said to me “You can if you stay”. Not to long after that Tom Phillips (the former director) invited me to be on staff.

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

I would love to have coffee with Paul. His letters are so theologically dense, and people still debate constantly on what he is trying to say. I would love to have a full, in depth conversation with him to talk through some of his more confusing passages and see what he was trying to say. I would also love to have coffee with the Apostle Peter. In many ways, Peter reminds me of myself and i would love to talk with him over our similarities.

What was your favorite Christian Song to Jam out to growing up?

When i was a kid Switchfoot was just getting big. So I would rock out to “Meant to Live” and “Beautiful Let Down.”

Why Emmaus?

One thing about this ministry that has continually drawn me in is the community. We aren’t just a bunch of intellectuals debating theology, seeking deeper knowledge of scripture. We are community of believers committed to walking with each other through life. It was pretty easy to say yes to Jesus and come on staff because I have always felt such a strong presence of “Home.” I’m genuinely friends with every single person that is on staff. That’s a great gift to have.  

If you would like to partner with Stephen financially or read his blog follow the links below.

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