DBU Alum Speaks on MAGL Program’s Impact

A man is standing with a special needs student. Both are smiling.

DBU Alumnus Hayden Garner was first introduced to the Master of Arts in Global Leadership graduate program through one of his classes, Developing a Christian Mind.

“I first found out about MAGL through Professor KayLyn Hopper,” Garner explained. “I took her Developing a Christian Mind course as an undergraduate student, and we connected over our shared passion for missions. During this time, Dr. Brent Thomason was my on-campus mentor and also recommended MAGL. After meeting with Dr. Mark Alexander and Dr. Bob Garrett, I knew God wanted me to continue my studies at DBU in missions.”

Garner shares that this program has broadened his perspective of missions, and that he has felt God calling him to some form of missions since he was in junior high. Once he graduated from the program, he joined the staff of Young Life’s Capernaum ministry.

The Capernaum ministry allows young people with disabilities the opportunity to experience adventure and build self-esteem through exciting activities such as camps and clubs, while developing strong friendships in the process. The name of the ministry derives from their belief that intellectual or developmental limitations should not hinder anyone from the Lord, as seen within the biblical story of a group of friends in Capernaum.

“After graduating with my MAGL, I had the opportunity to work full-time with Young Life’s Capernaum ministry,” Garner said. “Our name, Capernaum, comes from the story in Mark 2 where four men brought their friend with a disability to Jesus. The men dug a hole through the roof and lowered him to Jesus’s feet, who restored the man to wholeness and health. Like the friends in the story, we move through barriers, including the isolation and marginalization that can accompany having special needs.

We believe that the lives of teens with disabilities, as well as their able-bodied friends, are transformed by the shared experience of Young Life. The MAGL degree gave me the tools to contextualize the Gospel to those that I am working with, showed me new ways to engage students with the Gospel, and expanded my view of what the Kingdom of God looks like.”

Garner credits his professors at DBU for inspiring him to pursue his calling in missions, as well as pointing him to God in the process and pouring into his life.

“My professors at DBU played a huge role in God leading me to where I am now,” Garner states. “Professors like Hopper, Dr. Alexander, Dr. Garrett, Dr. Kent and Erika Parks, as well as countless others took the time to pour into me and share their experiences and lives. I strongly encourage current students to pursue deeper relationships with their professors!”

Written by The Graduate School of Ministry

The Graduate School of Ministry provides training for individuals who sense God's call to ministry. The mission of the Graduate School of Ministry integrates foundations of Christian faith and values with professional academic studies.