This is the first of a what will become I hope a regular part of Sets ‘n’ Service, Westminster Tattoo Reviews – real Christians, authentic spiritual journeys, with touching stories of transformation. This is another part of the new vibe at Sets ‘n’ Service, let me know what you think in the comments please. Hopefully we’ll have one of these each month…

Phil Coffin is a student at Westminster Theological Seminary and works there in the IT department. Phil and I were roomates at Westminster right before Jess and I got married, he’s a wonderfully humble guy with an unfamiliar vulnerability, Phil Blogs here. Part of Phil’s journey is captured in the vid above, the interview follows below;

A Hebrew tattoo named ‘Grace’

Sets: Phil tell us a little bit about what the Lord has brought you through these past years and why you chose to get the Hebrew word for grace tattooed on your chest?


Phil: God has brought me through countless academic, financial, and social challenges.  I have been hospitalized twice due to ulcerative colitis.  During final exams last spring, my 20 year old cousin died suddenly of a massive heart attack and my dorm mate and friend Tim Barranco committed suicide.  Grace comes to mind when I look back on the past 2 ½ years at Westminster Theological Seminary.  I suppose that is why I got the word hen, –“grace” tattooed over my heart.  At least this way I won’t forget that God got me through 3 semesters of Hebrew!


Sets:  Phil you have a pretty interesting set of life interests; computers, seminary, and crowd surfing; where do you see the Lord calling you in a few years from now?


Phil: I hope into full-time ministry of God’s Word.  I see myself as either a missionary or associate pastor somewhere.  I want to put all my abilities to His use.  Sometimes I think about doing a kind of holistic ministry where I can share the Gospel with someone while I’m drinking a beer and fixing their car; effectively ministering to physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the person.


Sets: What has been the most beneficial thing you’ve learned from your experience at Westminster Seminary?


Phil: I have learned to put my trust in God alone.  He is the creator and sustainer of all things and the great healer. 
Westminster has given me the context in which to learn this in very practical ways.


Sets: From your ministry experience at the Underground Cafe, an Emerging Church PCA ministry in Sacramento, Ca; what are some things you think more traditional Reformed churches may be missing in order to reach out to the next generation?


Phil: Valley Springs Presbyterian Church is committed to engaging the culture around them, even when it is not easy or convenient.  They focus on not only outreach with ministries such as U4iC, the Gathering Inn, and the Underground Café, but also unity, seeking to bring the church body together through small groups and a young adult ministry called Restoration.  I think the Church must be uncompromising in its doctrine, but also relevant to our culture. 


Sets: How do you think your recent experiences of suffering have empowered you to minister to other people dealing with suffering, particularly younger people like yourself with a passion for life?


Phil: I think more than anything it has taught me to shut up!  It seems that the more I can relate to someone’s suffering, the less I have to say to them.  This summer as part of an internship, I did some visitation with my mentoring pastor.  We visited the sick and those near death.  Often I could do nothing but pray with them.  

When someone is hurting, and we can’t do a damn thing about it, our focus moves off ourselves and on to God.  Many times offering to pray for someone brings more comfort than trying to solve their problems.


Remember to follow Phil on his journey at his blog here.