EU Alumni Perspective: Pia T.M. Sonnek
Name: Pia T. M. Sonnek
Graduation Year: 2003
Major: Business Administration: Management, Marketing
Current Position: Assisting Servants of the Lord Ministries
City and State: Feistritz bei Anger, Austria
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
Via my studies at Evangel University and a connected French summer study program, the Lord opened a door for me to serve as the Assistant Director at “The Jacques Lefevre Institute” in Normandy, France for 10 years. After a 7-month sabbatical, the Lord then opened a door to train for the ministry in the United Kingdom under leadership of “Servants of the Lord Ministries (SOLM)”, a teaching and training ministry for the body of Christ (www.solm.org). Both the founder of the ministry, Senior Pastor Joseph C. Hedgecock, and the headquarters are based in Tulsa, OK. My particular calling next to being trained has been to assist the international coordinator, Dr. Keith Jenkins, from a base in Nottingham, England. I do this as a volunteer on a self-employed basis which was a step of faith for me, but it has never lacked God’s provision. My time at EU helped prepare me for this. With current travel restrictions and much work handled online, the Lord moved me back to my native country of Austria in January 2021 after 20 years.
Here in Austria I continue to be trained and serve Jesus full-time as much as possible in the same way I did in the UK. My responsibilities include the coordination of book and weekly sermon translations (including French). The ministry’s aim is to help those with a heart after God to develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. We never graduate from God’s school and we can always get to know Him more! The ministry teaches from experience
how to practically live out scriptures such as John 17:3 (the gift of eternal life which is to know God, our Father, and His Son Jesus) and John 10:27-28 (to hear and follow Jesus and to be known by Him). Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us how we can walk in the Spirit, abide in Him (John 15), and express love to Him (John 14:15). I have tasted and seen that God is good, and it is an honor to get to share this with other believers who want to continue to grow and be fitly joined under one head as each member supplies and receives what has been effectually worked in them (Ephesians 4). The body only functions well collectively whenever Jesus is our first love and we are submitted to His leadership/Lordship individually; so helping establish this “Cornerstone” in believers’ lives for a consistent walk with God is one of the main focuses of the ministry. Jesus is coming soon and we need to be ready to meet Him in the sky.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
My best memory is what people of the Evangel community added to my daily life. Looking back there was a lot of love, acceptance, care, and support I received from faculty, staff, students, and neighbors as I never had before in my life. This deeply impacted my life as a student and even now. It moves me when I see all the faces I met and kindness I received while there and now.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
My advisor helped in the process of choosing my major and my professors encouraged me. Beginning in my 2nd year, with the help of fellow students and staff, I was given the opportunity to serve the EU family as a student manager in the campus cafeteria. This confirmed my calling in Management. Then, a fellow student highly recommended taking a French class. So I took one for fun in my 3rd year and ended up with a minor in French! This was the beginning of my calling in the Francophone field. Leading a small group of international EU students was part of my preparation for leading student groups later in France.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Studying and working at Evangel University helped me overcome fears and shyness and develop some discipline, maturity, and people skills. The material that was taught in the classes has also broadened my perspective and enhanced my understanding of cultural differences in doing business and going about life in general. The faculty and staff have sown a lot into me in various ways during my years spent at EU and in my life today. This gave me strength for what was to come in life. In “Music Appreciation” class, we even had to learn Philippians 4:8 by heart, which was preparation for what I am doing now. It is one of the key verses we teach. Amazingly, Proverbs 3:5-6 was also the featured verse at my graduation. This is the key verse for living in the Spirit and at the core
of what SOLM teaches.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
On your birthday, God put you here on earth for a specific purpose and calling. He gave you an allotted time here. Be careful how you spend it. Be wise, fear the Lord, and seek Him and His ways (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 3:5-6). As you acknowledge God in all your ways, you spend quality time with Him and get to know Him more intimately (John 17:3). He is interested in the smallest details of your life. Submit your will to His will. He is Lord, but establish Him as Lord of YOUR life and as YOUR first love. Whatever your calling is: Embrace it. Let go and let God. You don’t need to know what it is or what it entails or how to get there. You just need to know the step He wants you to take now and be obedient to Him. Trust & obey. And then take the next step, and the next. Remember that He is the master in all of the callings and knows everything – He knows what you need for the future, where you have no idea what it holds or how much time we have left before Jesus returns. The most important thing is that you are found in Him, doing His will (Romans 12:1-3, Matthew 7:21-23). He knows when you need to study, rest, play, work, etc. Trust Him completely with all areas of your life. You won’t regret it. If you make a mistake, He made provision for this (1 John 1:9), but be quick to turn around and go back in the right direction. Don’t miss out on what He has planned for you which you discover as you follow the Shepherd, Jesus.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
Humility. God gives grace to the humble and He resists the proud. A humble, teachable person can, by God’s grace, do anything. I don’t mind imperfection, but the right attitude is important. God always has a higher and more excellent way than we can even imagine. Humility for me includes the acknowledgement that we can of our own selves do nothing of eternal value, but we can do anything through Him who strengthens us. Jesus is our example of utter dependence on God. He described His way of doing things in John 5:30. I would not look for someone who perfectly does this (none of us have reached perfection), but I would look for someone who desires this way of living.