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Passion for God, Music Serve Ebsen Well in New Role as NextGen Pastor (2018-07-18)
Written by: Grant County Review

It wasn’t his chosen career path, but Milbank High School 2010 graduate, Jacob Ebsen, didn’t let that stop him as he stepped into his new role as the NextGeneration pastor at Calvary Church in Milbank.

Pastor Jacob Helstrom approached Ebsen, asking him to lead the youth ministry program at the church. Ebsen was flattered and after much thought, accepted the position even though it required some sacrifices. “Although it was a loss in pay and benefits, the gains of having this opportunity presented to me was a gift,” said Ebsen.

Ebsen did question his abilities for the position, but advice from Helstrom calmed his fears. Helstrom told Ebsen that God doesn’t only call the equipped people, but he equips the called. “That message really struck and stuck with me as I was trying to understand how I was even qualified and educated enough for this position,” he said. “But God wants us to be obedient to Him and His word. I am extremely blessed with having this opportunity.”

When Ebsen took on the role in May of 2017, the program grew from 10 to 34 youth in three short months. “I just provided a safe and non-judgmental place for kids and I just love on them. That’s all kids want is to be loved and supported,” said Ebsen. “I absolutely love helping and teaching youth and all I want for them is to use their gifts to glorify God.”

Ebsen’s goal is to prepare the youth for the world outside the church, Milbank and South Dakota so that they are resilient and successful. “I admire these kids for where they are at now, they all have such unique talents. But I am more excited about watching them grow with God and into their adult life,” noted Ebsen. “I truly believe this is my calling ­– to serve the youth in this community.”

The experience has been mostly positive and encouraging for Ebsen, but he has had to deal with challenging situations. “To have a child share with me the pain they feel when they receive bullying text messages was an eye-opener for me,” said Ebsen. “These kids are exposed to bullying through their cell phones and it breaks my heart when one would ever suggest another to take their own human life.” It is in those situations that Ebsen often feels underqualified as he has no prior experience in counseling. “Here I am counseling children and families in my office for hours and all I can do is talk and encourage them to trust God and to be real,” he said. “Relationships are so important and I just encourage individuals and families to be open, vulnerable and to be real to themselves and to one another.”

Ebsen does have experience with youth as he was the music director at Summit School for two years. He accepted the position after graduating from Northern State University in Aberdeen in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in music education.

In addition, Ebsen contributed his time to various extra-curricular activities such as coaching the Mustang volleyball team and refereeing volleyball matches. He also volunteered as a first responder with the fire department.

The new position brings Ebsen back to his hometown which he describes as a welcoming and beautiful town to live in. “This is home and I feel so at home here,” said Ebsen. “Why wouldn’t anyone want to return and contribute to their hometown?”

Ebsen’s mother, JoAnne, is originally from Hawaii, and his father, Byron, grew up on a farm near Revillo. The family operates a business called Triple E Enterprise, a trucking firm. “My father’s business has been such a blessing to my family which has been financially supportive to me,” said Ebsen. “I plan to get my commercial driver’s license (CDL) to be able to help out more.” Growing up, the Ebsen family members were church hoppers as they attended many area churches. Calvary was Ebsen’s church of choice as he moved into junior high and high school.

Music is a huge part of Ebsen’s life. “I remember just singing my heart out every Sunday,” said Ebsen. “I developed my passion for music at a very early age, at four to be exact.”

It was music that introduced him to his future wife, Alexandra (Lexi) Becht of Clear Lake. In high school, Ebsen participated in all state choir and traveled to Rapid City to compete. During his time there he met Becht’s older sisters and through them became friends with Lexi.

At Northern State, Ebsen and Becht rekindled their acquaintances and began dating. Ebsen proposed to Becht during a family trip to Hawaii in May of 2017. The couple is set to marry in February of 2018. “I am so excited to marry the love of my life. She has a caring soul and we share so many of the same passions,” commented Ebsen. “I just trust the Lord with all my heart as He carries my future plans .” Becht will graduate from Northern State University in December of 2017 with a bachelor’s of arts in music performance.

The couple started a DJ service, Simply Sound, and plan to expand their branding in 2018. “We sing at funerals, weddings and any type of special occasions,” noted Ebsen. “Last year we booked 13 events and we have just been blown away by the responses we’ve received.”

Ebsen has also taken on the role of director of the Milbank Milltones. “I enjoy working with this group of men who sing for the Milltones. They have such remarkable talent and humor,” commented Ebsen. “I’m learning so much as I do not have much knowledge or experience in barbershop music. Next year the group is sending me to Nashville for a barbershop convention. So I am pretty excited for that as Nashville is famous for being known as the music city.”

Although the young Milbank native has no plans to move away from Milbank to pursue other career paths, he certainly does plan to follow the path God provides him. “If another opportunity comes outside of Milbank I would consider moving,” said Ebsen. “But for now I couldn’t be happier with how blessed I am with the opportunities I have already received right here in my hometown.”

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