Q&A with Trevor Forbis: Future church planter
Name: Trevor Forbis
College: The College at Southeastern Seminary
GenSend City: San Diego, CA
Q: Tell me about the GenSend Experience. What is it?
Trevor: GenSend is a six-week program in a major urban city in North America where students learn to live their life on mission in an urban context. Working alongside church planters, students are immersed in what it looks like to share the gospel, serve in various areas of mercy and compassion, and experience the culture and rhythm of the city. GenSend helps a student experience what it would look like to leverage their life for the gospel with their gifts and talents in the density and diversity of a great city in North America.
Q: How did you get connected with the GenSend Experience?
Trevor: My best friend, Sean Robinson, was the team leader for San Diego, Calif. I didn’t know much about NAMB or GenSend, but I knew they had recruited a solid dude. I joined up and went to San Diego as a team member in the summer of 2015. God radically changed all of us on that trip, and the next summer I went back to San Diego as a team leader.
Q: What was it like living in San Diego for six weeks?
Trevor: San Diego is definitely an urban city, meaning a place where density meets diversity. For instance, in 2016 our team served in the area of City Heights, where more than 70 different dialects are spoken. Just walking down the street, you could see monks wearing robes, people wearing Afghan garb, Buddhist temples and so much more. Of course, you can’t talk about San Diego without talking about the weather. It’s one of the nicest places on Earth. Things are so good in San Diego that people think, “Why do I need Jesus? I’ve got everything I need right here.” It’s a beautiful city, but it’s definitely in need of the gospel. We need more laborers to go into San Diego and show people through love that they’re missing something.
Q: What did you and your team do in San Diego with the GenSend program?
Trevor: Our teams in San Diego had to figure out on our own how to use our time. That looked different for everyone. Some worked with non-profit organizations in the area, like the YMCA. Some taught art classes, while others found jobs at recording studios and waffle shops. For me, it was about intentionally building relationships with the baristas and other regulars in the coffee shops. The whole idea was this: We were meeting people where they were. We weren’t just inviting people into the church; we were bringing Jesus to them. That’s what GenSend is about: Learning to live life on mission.
Q: What were some of the stories that came out of those relationships you built?
Trevor: We got to see a lot of people die to themselves and accept Jesus as their Savior. One of my favorite stories is when our team of 13 went to the beach and accidentally stayed past the time the buses shut down. We had to take three different Ubers back to where we were staying, which was a burden since, as college students, we didn’t have much money. Little did we know God’s strategic plan was to have us take Uber rather than the bus. All three teams in each of the vehicles had gospel conversations on the way back. One of them ended with the driver breaking down in tears and sharing her whole life story with a few girls on our team. After we all prayed with our individual drivers, we got out and were so ecstatic about what had just happened. We spent the next hour sitting right where we were dropped off, just in awe of who God is and praying to Him. We just couldn’t walk away from what had happened, because it was so evident God was giving us favor with the city of San Diego.
Q: What was it like being part of a team of other college students in San Diego?
Trevor: Our team was extremely diverse. We had someone who spoke French, someone from Ethiopia, an artist with a major in intercultural studies, someone who had lived in Zambia for 2 years, Spanish speakers, rap artists and full-time outdoor camp leaders. I was the recruiter for our team—meaning before the trip, I had handpicked each person on our team—but as I was recruiting, I never realized how diverse we were. But the cool thing was God equipped us with such diversity and then put us in a diverse area like City Heights. It became very clear God had orchestrated this thing from the beginning, and that blew us away. We still hang out together whenever we can, and several of us guys moved in together as roommates after the trip.
Q: Would you say the community built within the GenSend teams is a huge draw for GenSend?
Trevor: Definitely. I think it shows what biblical community should look like within the local church.
Q: Through your time in San Diego, what did God teach you about your call to ministry and church planting?
Trevor: GenSend has shaped my life in a lot of different ways. For my own future in ministry, I learned not only do I want to church plant, but I want to church plant in an urban city. Whether that be San Diego or somewhere else, through NAMB I’ve realized the impact urban cities have on the nation and the world, and our opportunity to advance the gospel through that. I also learned what a genuine disciple should look like. Every Christian is called to make disciples, and that’s played out in so many different ways, not just within the four walls of a church. We learned to be intentional in bringing the gospel into people’s circumstances, because that’s exactly what Jesus did for us. He came into the midst of where we were—God in the flesh to this Earth—and He brought the good news. He brought Himself to us, and we learned we have to meet the people of the city where they are and bring the good news to them.
Q: Can you tell me why GenSend is important to North America?
Trevor: GenSend is important to North America because it is equipping students to live life on mission with the gospel as the centerpiece. NAMB has put together an awesome program that fosters deep discipleship and missional enthusiasm. GenSend is creating gospel-centered disciples in our urban cities, and the urban cities are how we reach the United States and North America.
Q: In one sentence, why should a college student go on GenSend?
Trevor: They will never find a better experience as far as price, discipleship and community.
Trevor Forbis serves as a student pastor at Restoration Church in Wake Forest, SC. He also continues to recruit, build and train GenSend teams who will be spending their summers in San Diego, Chicago and Toronto.