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Q&A With Sylvia Cortez-Masyuk

Graduate Chaplain for Mission Valley and Liberty Station and Director of Spiritual Care for AUG students, Sylvia Cortez Masyuk. Photo Courtesy of Sylvia Cortez Masyuk.

Former Point Loma Nazarene University staff member, Sylvia Cortez-Masyuk, returned to San Diego this semester after 12 years working abroad in Ukraine. From 2000 to 2011, Cortez Masyuk served as PLNU’s director of discipleship ministries on campus. She is now working as the PLNU graduate chaplain.

In an email interview with The Point, Cortez-Masyuk shares her experience and encouragement for young women interested in ministry. 

The Point: When did you first feel called to ministry? 

Sylvia Cortez Masyuk: I was very young when I felt a call to ministry. My father is a pastor and at one point (I think I was seven years old) he invited a missionary to speak at our church. I was so moved by her stories and immediately felt drawn to being a witness of God’s work in the world.

TP: What did you learn from working at PLNU? Was there a person or program that impacted you greatly?

SCM: I worked at PLNU from 2000 to 2011 and loved my role as director of discipleship ministries. I grew a lot spiritually and professionally during my previous tenure at PLNU. My best work during that time was developing programs in collaboration with faculty and staff to create spaces where deep conversations could take place as we wrestled with how to best integrate our faith and daily life, work and relationships. Some of my fondest partnerships occurred in programs such as the Women’s Forum, Theology on Tap and the Faith & Film Forum. 

TP: What led you to Ukraine originally?

SCM: My first trip to Ukraine was in 1994 as a PLNU student on a LoveWorks trip. I actually stayed on to help the church there for eight more months as a volunteer missionary and built lifelong relationships with the people there. 

TP: What called you back to Ukraine later? 

SCM: In 2011, I married Volodymyr Masyuk, who was Ukrainian pastor of Kyiv First Church of the Nazarene at the time. We decided to stay in Ukraine and I lived there for 12 years, up until the start of the war with Russia in 2022.

TP: Can you touch on what type of ministry you did in Ukraine? 

SCM: My ministry in Ukraine was two-fold: I was the European Nazarene Bible College administrator for our students in Ukraine and Moldova, which included some teaching. I also served as a preaching pastor at Kyiv First Church of the Nazarene and served in numerous other ways there. I also additionally helped our district office with some administrative tasks and the regional church with some larger events.

TP: What brought you back to PLNU? 

SCM: Besides being displaced by the war with Russia, as I began to look for work related to my vocational ministerial training, [and] the graduate chaplain position opened up. I’m very grateful to serve in this role and for the opportunity to return to PLNU.

TP:  How do you hope to use what you’ve learned abroad back here in San Diego? 

SCM: As for what I learned abroad that I bring back to PLNU, living in Eastern Europe exposed me to some of the world’s injustices and particularly to a society deeply impacted by transgenerational trauma. So, I am interested in the ways the life, death and resurrection of Christ can speak and minister to those wounded by trauma. Living abroad for such an extended time really did broaden my love for and understanding of how much we need the global church.

TP: What advice would you give to young women who feel a call from the Lord to step into ministry? 

SCM: Be faithful to what God has called you to and take yourself seriously. Some of you may experience some pushback along the way. Find trustworthy mentors and colleagues who can help you navigate those waters with wisdom, professionalism and even laughter. Be faithful in your preparation. Guard your joy and calling with prayer and steady formation.