Embracing Software and Seminary

Paul Prins S’12 follows his dual calling for entrepreneurship and ministry to Paris.

By Katie Johnson '19

August 09, 2018 | 9 p.m.

Embracing Software and Seminary

Sustaining two careers at once isn’t easy, but Paul Prins S’12 follows God’s audible call for his life all the way to Paris.

Halfway through his undergraduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Paul Prins encountered God at a worship service, and it changed his life. “I audibly heard the voice of God telling me to go to France,” Prins says. “You can’t really argue at that point.”

Prins had been an active member of Cru, a worldwide student ministry, throughout college, and when he first realized the depth of spiritual need in France, he thought, “I should do something.” He then rethought, like any rational person, that someone else should do something. Still, he couldn’t ignore the opportunity, and he went to France for six weeks one summer as part of Cru. He couldn’t have predicted how much he’d enjoy it.

A few months later, God told him to return to France, and for a longer period of time. Prins spent a year in Toulouse, France, and when he came back to the U.S., he finished his undergrad degree. He embraced his call to ministry, while balancing it with a similar call he felt to entrepreneurship. He’s has been an entrepreneur since eighth grade when he developed his first start-up, MidwestSkier.com, which combined two of his passions—skiing and filmmaking—and offered a valuable learning experience for what was to come.

The cost of living in France is expensive, Prins explains. The same amount of money could go much further in another country—or even on another continent—than in France or Europe. He knew that long-term ministry in France would require additional funding. Prins says he “started a company to be faithful to a lifelong calling in ministry.”

Thus, Freshvine was born. It’s a software company that serves organizations and nonprofits, especially since Prins noticed a disconnect between nonprofits and the business world. It took him about six to seven weeks to create the Fresh Vine software, and by the time he started pursuing his Master of Divinity at Bethel Seminary, he considered himself a “full-time student, part-time start-up employee.” Prins was drawn to the on-campus programs Bethel Seminary had to offer, as well as the diverse perspectives represented in the classroom. He also gained hands-on, relevant cross-cultural ministry experience that has proven useful for the next stage of his life. “God acts differently in different times and places,” Prins says, grateful he had been well-equipped to embrace another culture before he moved to France.

Embracing Software and Seminary

Sustaining two careers at once isn’t easy, but Paul Prins S’12 follows God’s audible call for his life all the way to Paris.

When Prins found that his Bethel classes focused mainly on ministering to second and third world countries, he approached his professor and asked, “What about Europe?” The next week, the former Western Europe Director of Communitas International, Kevin Johnson, spoke to Prins’ class. “I lost my mind,” Prins said, still awed by the wealth of information Johnson had to offer. They connected, and Prins joined the Communitas International team. Had Prins not met Johnson at Bethel, he doubts they would have connected at all since their lives wouldn’t have overlapped. He’s thankful for the opportunities Bethel Seminary exposed him to, as well as the emphasis on practicing theology and cross-cultural mission strategies.

Prins and his wife, Jordan, moved to Paris about two years ago. He currently balances his role as missionary with his position as president of Freshvine, and while his life is certainly rich, Prins says he’s “uniquely aware of the struggle of being bi-vocational.” They’re still learning the language, and Prins sometimes struggles to know when he’s done enough in his ministry role. Dedication to pursuing two extensive careers in service sometimes exacerbates this doubt.

However, while Prins is still figuring out how to manage the tension that accompanies his bi-vocational calling, he’s forever grateful for the opportunities God has granted him. As president of his company, he’s been able to meet people and establish connections on a different scale. He also has found himself involved in the American Chamber of Commerce in France where his talents have been used to connect French and American companies. In addition, he provides IT assistance for the Cannes Film Festival, a personally gratifying experience for a man whose first start-up included filmmaking.

The couple is seeking God’s will for them in this next stage of ministry, as they invest in their Parisian neighborhood and continue to learn the language. Prins is eager to serve and build his surrounding community, both in person and online.

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