Whether it’s a survey course during freshman year or an upper-division Religion elective, many students can be found in class with an animated, lively former music major.
This particular former music major, Associate Professor of Old Testament April Westbrook, sensed the Lord’s calling on her life, a calling in a different direction than she had planned. But she did not at first heed the call.
In line at the Registrar’s office during her undergrad years at Life Pacific College, Westbrook had her music classes all lined up.
“‘Take Greek,’” God said. [I thought] ‘Why would I want to do that?’ Then it was stronger: Take Greek,” Westbrook said. “I signed up for music classes.”
The following semester, Westbrook did not enjoy her music classes. When she did sign up for Greek a year later, it put her one step behind in her education.
“I’ve learned that obeying God the first time is best,” Westbrook said. “The difficulties of the journey are increased by my own lack of response to the Lord.”
A child of minister parents with one older sister, Westbrook grew up knowing Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. Her grandparents were also ministers in the Foursquare denomination. Westbrook herself was on the pastoral staff of a Foursquare church in Los Angeles for four years before coming to Vanguard, where she has been for ten years.
During Westbrook’s time as pastor of her church, she sensed God’s presence intensely at a Wednesday night prayer meeting.
“I was praying in tongues with not really a sense of what I was praying for,” Westbrook said. “But at about three or four in the morning I felt that burden lift, and God spoke to me very strongly. He said ‘I’m moving you.’ Later that morning I got a phone call from Dr. Bill Williams and I knew immediately what that was about.”
Throughout Westbrook’s life, God has brought her into a deeper awareness of his plan for her.
“It’s all been orchestrated by the Lord,” Westbrook said. “[The Lord] just takes us step by step.”
She has a deep interest in the study of women in ministry, and was encouraged in it by her friend and adjunct professor, Dr. Sheri Benvenuti. Despite challenges, Westbrook has ministered and studied much on the subject.
“Being a woman and being called to ministry, I had to deal with [opposition] early on in my career,” Westbrook said. “I had been taught that a woman can minster as long as a man was overseeing.
Benvenuti [asked me] ‘Where is that in the Bible?’[I realized] a lot of those verses have been misapplied and misunderstood.”
Even through opposition, God has brought Westbrook where he wants her to be. She believes students should recognize the sovereignty of the Lord.
“The most important thing is being open, and that means really acknowledging his Lordship in your life,” Westbrook said. “He’s not just Savior, he is Lord.”
However, a growing relationship with the Lord does not stop there.
“Openness is extremely important and responding is extremely important. Spend time with the Lord—it’s a relationship—and be in the Word. Be in the Word a lot,” Westbrook said. “It is truth.”
Westbrook encourages others to deepen their understanding of God’s identity and to seek a more intimate and personal relationship with him.
“All of us, if we’ve lived in the world at all, have a skewed view of who God is. We need to be continually confronting our thinking about who He is,” Westbrook said.
With the assurance of a firm relationship with Jesus Christ grounded in the Bible, Westbrook exemplifies a life lived responsively, a life that answers God’s call even when he has something unexpected in mind.