2020 AGTS Alum of the Year Perspective: Dr. John Easter
Name: John L. Easter
Graduation Year: 2011
Major: Intercultural Studies
Current Position: Executive Director of Africa’s Hope
City and State: Springfield, Missouri
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
My career reflects 10 years of pastoral ministry and 20 years as an Assemblies of God missionary with a focus on theological education. For the past seven years, I have served as the executive director of Africa’s Hope, which is the educational resource arm for the Africa Region. I began this career in 2000 with the task of establishing a graduate program in Malawi, Africa. I later moved onto serving as an educational consultant, and today, I lead the office for overseeing the educational teams and our training initiatives in 46 out of 54 countries. I also serve as the Chancellor of Pan-Africa Theological Seminary (PATHS), which singularly offers a doctoral program, and as the executive director of the Association for Pentecostal Theological Education in Africa (APTEA). A large part of my responsibilities is to work with our continental teams in implementing creative solutions that resource 382 institutions over a vast continental area, which offer several levels of education programs— reflecting over 23,000 students annually.
What is your favorite memory from AGTS?
My fondest memory reflects several moments of spirited conversations, carried over outside the classrooms, with classmates in corners of the AGTS library or at local nearby restaurants. Some stimulating papers came out of those conversations, and the relationships with those classmates have remained close to this day.
How did AGTS help you identify/develop your calling?
I was looking for an institution that offered a quality doctoral studies program in Intercultural Studies. AGTS was one of the few seminaries that offered a program design that I felt supported my academic and professional goals. In terms of my call, AGTS provided the space for me to focus on critical areas to increase the capacity of my personal development and career service. I was able to leverage that season of my life to dig deep into the field of Intercultural Studies, create new relationships that expanded my career network, and find opportunities to publish my work and teach on new platforms. Because my knowledge grew and my skills were sharpened, I was able to make a more meaningful contribution to our organization, which has been personally and professionally rewarding.
How did your experience at AGTS prepare you for life after graduation?
During my studies, AGTS provided opportunity to participate in scholarly consultations, seminars, and conferences. I was able to make presentations, publish, and advise. My experience at AGTS introduced me to new relationships and networks, which I drew upon after graduating. In addition, despite the natural stress and pressures that come with applying yourself academically, this was a season where I benefited spiritually—a tremendous outcome for a graduate. I walked from the graduation ceremony directly into a demanding ministry role with renewed energy.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
First, own your education. Take ownership of it! Don’t simply plan for your future after graduation— be intentional about shaping the journey along the way, which will greatly impact your future beyond the ceremony. Learning to do this early will set you up with a life-skill. Second, challenge yourself to grow personally and academically. Don’t fear the hard classes, don’t hesitate to explore hard questions, and don’t be too timid to approach teachers and friends when you need help. Third, enjoy the journey! Embrace the present by establishing healthy values and positive relationships, which will position you for success.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from AGTS?
While educational success is considered, I primarily consider people with good people skills, self-awareness, organizational skills, and an eagerness to be a life-long learner.