This week we would love for you to meet Morgan Phaneuf! Morgan first came to Emmaus as a student during our pilot program. Born and raised in North Carolina, Morgan and her husband Justin moved to Florida with their two kids, Drake and Tannis. Morgan is an excellent student and teacher of the Word.
Morgan, Let’s cut to the chase, what do you do around here?
The short answer is, I enjoy myself WAY too much! If you're talking specifics, I'm the instagrammer on staff. Instagram is a "look in" at our daily life here and I love that part of my job is sneaking around taking candid photos! I also get to use my "nice camera" to take photos as a way to document everything from our community events, to photos for blogs/support raising needs, and just our ministry and school life. I taught my first two books this Spring and I am looking forward to adding to my repertoire in the Fall (starting with the Book of Joshua). As with most ministries, we all do a little bit of everything as needs arise.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Is it cliche' to say all the parts? It's probably cliche' but I am going to say it anyway. All the parts! My job is to be in my Bible all the time, talk to people about the Bible all the time, and be in community with people who love the Bible and want to talk about it all the time! I love my coworkers as well, they are a pretty great part of the job. I legitimately miss the people I work with on the weekends and I look forward to Mondays when I get to go back to work! If I had to narrow it down to just one thing though, it would have to be watching the way studying the Bible captivates people and changes them. God's word is living and active and it messes with the people that really spend time in it. Having the opportunity to watch that in all its incarnations is beautiful and wonderful!
When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?
I think I knew that God was calling me to Emmaus to be on staff in the same way that I knew He was calling me to be a student, it just kept coming up! During my time as a student, I experienced life and heart change beyond what I thought imaginable. I spent a lot of time bewildered and overwhelmed. However, during that same time I also started teaching in my Neighborhood Group. I hadn’t even been inclined to speak up in discussions in group prior to that but, suddenly, I couldn’t help but share what I was learning in class! I wanted people to know what I was discovering. I couldn't stop talking about the Bible! I tried to find any way I could to tell people about Emmaus. On occasion, people would say "You should teach the Bible" or "Your passion for this is infectious, you were made for this!" Those comments made me embarrassed and awkward, but they also made me think. Fast forward to coming into the end of my student year and I was absolutely unsure of what was next. What I was sure of was that I was completely bereft at the thought of leaving Emmaus for good. I would have never anticipated that being on staff at a ministry where I stood in front of people and gave lectures was in God's plan for me, but, here I am!
Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?
Jesus of course! Shouldn't everyone say Jesus? Everyone probably says Jesus right? Well, if Jesus is a given, I would say my second choice would probably be Mary, the mother of Jesus. If you think about her life, what she was told, what happened to her, what she saw through the eyes of a mother, her story is just incredible! I would love to pick her brain about seeing Jesus through the eyes of both a mother and a disciple! I imagine some of it would be heart wrenching, like the crucifixion. However, I think some of it would also be humorous. I mean, what was Jesus like as a kid? I’m a parent, I have some great stories about the things my kids have said and done! I also cannot imagine hearing the sweet, soft pride that only a mother can feel as she spoke of watching her son grow as a Rabbi and take his ministry forward.
What was your favorite Christian Song to Jam out to growing up?
Well, I didn't grow up listening to Christian music often as I didn't have what you would call the "traditional" faith history. I mostly jammed out to The Beatles, Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Buffett, show tunes, 60’s rock and some of whatever was popular. However, my best friend (the person responsible for dragging me to youth group and church kicking and screaming, if you’re reading this Melissa, I love you!) only listened to Christian music in her car. I rode to school with her in the morning and she had a few songs she would put on blast and repeat until we joined in her joyful 7am worship sessions (yes, there was dancing). I really enjoyed "The Devil is Bad" by The Ws. That's a fun one to sing with 6 people stuffed into a Mustang!
I’m not sure I have a concise answer for this question. I simply feel like this is what God made me to do. I know, I know, that sounds like such a “this is my calling” super spiritual type answer. It’s true though. Once I graduated college, I would tell people “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” As my transcripts can attest, I certainly didn’t know when I was still in school! (Four schools and I think 5ish majors?) During my student year at Emmaus, even when the workload was hard and balancing life with class was demanding, I always felt sadness knowing that one day it would end. I would have to graduate and leave Emmaus. Often, I’d demand an “Emmaus 200 level” course catalogue or I would threaten to just camp out and blatantly refuse leave! Emmaus has been such a gift, not just to me, but my family, my friends and my faith community. I am who I am because I have allowed the Bible to mess with me. I am a different person than I was prior to January 2018. I cannot believe that now I really do get stay at Emmaus! It’s not just that. I get the honor and the incredibly humbling privilege of watching students while the Bible messes with them too. All that to say, “Why Emmaus?” is really more a “What else but Emmaus?” question to me. There’s nothing in the world I can imagine that I want to be involved with more than this ministry with these people!
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