“God, if you’re there and you care, then it’s your time to show up…”

Danny Willborn (3rd Year), Kids

11 min readAug 29, 2019


with Gabriella De Jesus

OSL student, Danny Willborn, completed his first year in the Kids Internship. I was able to sit down with him to learn his story and how OSL has impacted his life.

Tell me about your family life growing up?

Growing up, we went to a Baptist Church until I was about seven years old. And then we were kind of in and out of the church. We came back to church, after moving to Oklahoma but weren’t very involved. After a year, we came back to Texas and found ourselves kind of in and out of the church again. Things were relatively normal other than just not going to church. I was involved in the youth group, but other than that, I wasn’t really in the church. My mom’s a teacher. She’s been a teacher for the last ten years now. My dad works as a manager for an insurance company that covers large vehicles, like semis. I also have two younger sisters, Caitlin and Kiersten. We’ve always been very family-centered. As I said, we didn’t grow up in the church as consistently. During that time, I had a good relationship with my mom and a decent one with my dad. There were just different things that went into each relationship. We didn’t see eye to eye sometimes. Some of that happens with your parents anyway, but it got a lot better once I moved out of the house for college. Since I have moved back in, I’m seen as an adult in my house now.

Were there any major impactful moments that affected your life at that time?

My parents were separated for a brief period when I was thirteen. That was tough and weird for me, I guess. My dad moved out of a house for a while. For me, that was crazy. You just never think anything like that is going to happen to you. Behind closed doors, conversations always happened between them, but, for my sisters and me, it felt like it happened all of a sudden. We had no idea. They’re better now though. They’ve worked things out over the last seven or eight years. Another thing that’s impacted me majorly is the passing of my grandmother in May of 2016. That kind of sent me into a downward spiral, and I went down fast. I found my way back up about the same time I started going back to church consistently.

Who was your role model/mentor in that season of your life, and how did they help you?

That’s a good question. During that time, I mean, I was close to my grandparents. So a lot of times, I would talk things through with them. But other than that, I didn’t have any major role models or mentors, until I started getting involved in church again. I never really had that, like one person that I just looked up to. Not that I didn’t look up to my parents, but I never really had that mentor figure. I think the closest person I had to a mentor would be my grandmother that passed away. When she passed, it was a rough time. She was one that I could talk to about the future and life. She would give me practical advice. My grandmother was a single mother for around fifteen years, or something like that. She worked up to three jobs and raised four kids on her own for the good majority of their lives, all by herself. She had a lot of life experience. She’d been through it all. Getting to talk about the future, and things like that, with her, made a huge impact.

How did you come to Christ?

I had known about God my whole life, but I never really had that personal relationship with Him. When I was seven, I decided I want to be saved for the first time. I wanted to give my life to God but I never really understood what that meant. After my grandmother passed away, my friend, Connor Harper, invited me to go to church at The Oaks with him. That was in June of 2016. At the time, I felt like there was nothing. I didn’t know how to process, but I continued to go to church. Around a month later, on July 3, 2016, I remember being in Sunday service. They were getting ready to do the altar call and this nervousness formed inside of me. I knew what they were about to do. As soon as they started talking, I just began to weep. I told God, “You know what, this is it. God, if you’re there and you care, then it’s your time to show up. I’m going to give my life to you, and we’re going to see how this thing goes.” I rededicated my life to Him that July. From then on, it was a complete life change. I got baptized, started getting involved in church, getting involved in kids’ ministry, graduating high school, and started to serve with youth.

Was there a specific moment that you can remember where you realized the call God has on your life?

It was kind of a gradual process. It wasn’t just like this one moment in prayer, where it was like, “You’re going to go into ministry for the rest of your life.” It was a gradual process during my second semester at SAGU. I was just a normal on-campus student. I wasn’t involved with OSL, but I just really loved serving and ministering to kids. I loved working at the church and I was getting more involved serving the youth. I started to notice that I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I’d spent a good amount of time in prayer. I asked God if that was something that He wanted me to do for the rest of my life. I just knew that, in some capacity, I would be involved in ministry. At about that time, Pastor Joey had contacted me saying, “Hey. I want to have a conversation with you.” So I found him the following week, thinking it was going to be a short conversation, but he ended up offering me an internship in the kids’ department. That had been the confirmation that I had been praying for.

Can you tell me about any struggles you had with your calling during that period?

Doubt is a huge thing. You know, I think any time that something big happens that there’s always kickback. Doubt was that thing. I was so afraid to have that conversation with my parents. Not being in a home where my family went to church every week and telling them that I was called the ministry was scary. From a practical standpoint, there were already questions of, “How are you going to support yourself? How are you going to support your family in the future?” It was a big conversation I was so afraid to have. Then I started to think, maybe it wasn’t what I was supposed to do. Maybe all these things had just been a coincidence and I just did a decent job at serving. There was a lot of doubt and a lot of fear of having that conversation with my parents. But it all ended up working itself out. I decided to have the conversation with my parents one night at dinner and I explained to them that I felt called. I shared that I didn’t know how much money I would make in the future, but this was where I was supposed to be. When I saw the initial look on my dad’s face, it was exactly how I saw it going. Then there was a switch and he told me, “You know, I’m still kind of skeptical, but if this is really where you believe you’re supposed to be, we’re going to support you in that.”

How did your story bring you to OSL?

So initially, I heard about OSL when I started at SAGU. I originally thought that it wasn’t really for me. I had started college as a business major. But then I came to realize my calling and had that conversation with Pastor Joey. That process continued and I started talking to Lauren Prescott, who was the small group director for kids at that time. We had been talking back and forth about what it was going to look like, and then a great opportunity came up. They offered me an MA position that would apply to me coming into the internship directly. At first, I didn’t understand how big of a deal that was when it had first been offered. Once it hit me, I remember thinking, “God, you want me here right now.” It just continued from there. It was like one thing after another, God continued to say, “This is where I want you. This is where you need to be. This is the place you need to be in to grow in your calling.” Initially, I was a little afraid of the time commitment involved in doing the internship. I was used to working twenty to thirty hours a week and getting paid for it, but it was a job. When they offered me the MA position, I was told that it would be the way I could make it work financially. So I made the decision and got on board. As soon as I started, I was like, man, why did I just now I do this? It was so cool. When you’re here, you’re not just another face, you are a part of the family.

What internship(s) are you in, or have you been in? How did you choose that/those internship(s)?

I’ve only been involved in the kids’ internship. For me, it was kind of a no brainer. That was the internship I was offered. While being here, I’ve continued to grow and been given opportunity after opportunity to step up in leadership and have new responsibilities. I’ve seen no reason to leave it. I came in with kids and will probably leave with kids. Currently, my role is the preschool service pastor, which is a position that was created at the beginning of this past semester. I came in as a service leader, mainly overseeing the production aspect of the preschool service. Then they decided to create the service pastor role, which creates a pastoral face for the entire area for both kids and volunteers.

Have there been any difficulties you have gone through while in OSL?

There’s not anything that I can think of, other than just the ever so often, “Is this really where I’m supposed to be?” At times, I find myself asking God if this is where He wants me to be. I wonder if I spend enough time in prayer or if I am where I need to be? Am I growing the way I should be? That hasn’t been a good experience. While it hasn’t been a huge external issue, thoughts like that will come up every once in awhile internally.

How have you gotten through them?

I’ve built some great friendships being up here. Through my time here, I have built some great relationships on the team. There is an openness with our pastors, Pastor Joey, and Pastor Kate. They give us the freedom to understand that we come before the internship. They are very helpful in that if this is not where you’re supposed to be, they’ll help you find where you need to be. The freedom to go in and talk to them about those things is amazing, even though it’s never gotten to that point where I’ve had to go have that conversation. They provide consistent encouragement and openness. If I have an issue, I can go talk to my pastors. The whole honesty policy is found across the Oaks and has been something cool. If you feel like a situation’s gone wrong, talk to the right person, at the right time, in the right way. That openness across the board has been a huge thing, walking through different things.

Down the line, where do you see yourself after graduating from OSL?

That’s a really tough question. You know, I am not 100% sure where I see myself. It’s kind of interesting. God’s given me a heart for business but also for being involved in ministry. So I’m not sure whether that means I’m going to be working in a church or if that means I’m going to be going to work in a business. I have a kind of openness with God that wherever He calls me, I’m ready to go. Having that business degree does not discount that He’s called me into ministry. Now, I can get into a business because I have that degree and I also have the experience to make it into a church.

What are your hopes for the remaining time you will spend in OSL?

My hope for the rest of OSL will be that I continue to learn and grow from being in this environment. I want to continue taking on new responsibilities. Maybe I could even get the opportunity to take another step in leadership, while I’m in the internship. I also just want to continue getting face time with different pastors and learn from them. Just taking advantage of the opportunities that we have over here.

Lastly, do you have any advice for your peers currently going through OSL and those looking into it?

I would say one huge thing is honesty. You’re not enjoying where you’re at? Go talk to somebody and let them know. The second thing that I would say is to take advantage of every opportunity. You have such an awesome opportunity here to connect with pastors and to have opportunities to lead that you’re going to need. When you have an opportunity, take it. Show that you care and don’t look at this internship as just another way to get on a platform. Take advantage of the experience that you’re getting here. Have this mentality stepping into anything you do, regardless of whether it’s just resetting props or being asked to sit on a meeting with Pastor Scott. You need to treat every opportunity with the same level of excellence. Everything you do is unto the Lord. So everything that we’re doing here is important. If you don’t treat the small things as important, then you can’t be trusted to treat the big things as important.

The Oaks School of Leadership (OSL) at Oaks Church was founded in 2009 and since then more than 600 students have gone through OSL. Many serve in high-caliber leadership positions throughout our nation and around the world. OSL exists to position students for effective leadership in a variety of capacities, including ministry, non-profit and business leadership, by providing students with hands-on leadership training combined with a degree from an accredited university.




The mission of the Oaks College is to develop Spirit-led leaders to transform communities for the Kingdom of God.