Timothy Penning

How I came into relationship with Jesus Christ

I was blessed to be born into a Christian family and baptized as an infant. My relationship with Jesus grew since then, and like many relationships, had ups and downs and was tested and grew through adversity. Having gone to Christian schools K-12, I encountered people indifferent and even hostile to my faith in a public university. After one semester, realizing my faith was real, I made public profession of faith in my home church. More recently, after my wife’s diagnosis with stage 4 cancer in 2012, my relationship with Jesus became more deeply personal. I was baptized in the first Harvest Bible Chapel Spring Lake baptism in the new building. My relationship with Jesus now is real, vivid, and constant, in good times as well as the trials of life.

How I came to Harvest

Before Harvest had its first service in Spring Lake, I was asked by the Grand Haven Tribune to moderate a panel discussion about whether a church should be “inclusive” of all points of view. The panel included Ian Lawton, pastor at the time of C3 Exchange that occupied this building, a pastor of Nortonville Bible Chapel, and a guy named David Wisen who said he was launching a new church called Harvest. I had not heard of Harvest or Pastor Wisen at the time. I remember trying to maintain an appearance of objective during that community forum panel about what a Christian church should be. But in my heart I was pumping my fist in agreement when David Wisen declared the gospel without shame and with great passion. My wife and I started attending Harvest shortly after it launched at the Trillium, and we have been with the church since then.

What I do at Harvest

My wife and I are greeters at the 11 a.m. service. We also became small group leaders in 2015 when our leaders decided to go to serve at Harvest North Muskegon. I also have been a deacon rom 2015 to 2016 when I was asked to serve as an elder.

Why I do what I do

It’s interesting. I’m known for being a hard worker at work. I may get that work ethic from my dad, a plumber, or it may be that I respond to pressure. But at Harvest, there is such a sense of serving the Lord, being part not just of this church but the Kingdom of God, such joy, that service in the church is not seen as an obligation, but an opportunity and privilege to serve Jesus. I would also say that my wife’s struggle with cancer, and the loss of some family and friends, has reminded me that our lives are short. We are created to glorify God, and as my relationship with Jesus has grown that has been my ultimate desire. So I serve in order to glorify God, no matter what mortal struggle I face, and will do so as long as I breathe.

At Harvest since

2011, at the Trillium.

Elder since

2016

Education

BA in Journalism from Central Michigan University; MA in Organizational Communication from Western Michigan University; PhD in Media and Information Studies from Michigan State University.

Occupation

Professor of Advertising and Public Relations in the School of Communications at Grand Valley State University.

Favorite verse

Hard to have just one—changes daily, depending on where my walk takes me. Let’s go with Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Good one for a professor who works among PhDs and secular humanists).

Family

Wife, Cindy

What I Do For Fun

Almost anything outdoors. Running, biking, kayaking, walking the beach, gardening. I also love to read.