Westmont Magazine Partners in Prayer

Although he lives in Santa Barbara, Matt Labrie ’93 didn’t get to campus very often after he graduated. A partner in a real estate management firm, he was busy with his work, his wife, Wendy Barnett Labrie ’93, and their two young sons.

But when Matt signed up to be a prayer partner, he reconnected with the world of Westmont students. For the past year and a half, he has met regularly with Ryan Pombrio ’03 for prayer and sharing.

“The camaraderie has been wonderful,” Matt says. “It’s been great to see Ryan enjoy things I remember doing. Some of the issues he deals with have changed since I was a student, but there are a lot of similarities between our experiences.

“Meeting with Ryan has reminded me how fortunate I was to be in the Westmont environment,” Matt continues. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate my college years.”

Besides the home-cooked meals he gets when he visits Matt and Wendy, Ryan relishes contact with someone who is “post-Westmont. It is helpful to talk to someone who has already learned how to make the transition from school to family life,” he says.

At their first meeting, Matt and Ryan discovered a mutual interest in praying for each other. Matt sought prayers for his family, for his growth as a man and a father, and for people in his life. Ryan was looking for direction, balance in his life, and consistency in his prayer life.

“There is a certain amount of energy and encouragement in praying with someone at a different place in life,” Matt says.

Ryan came to Westmont for the Christian community and the small classes without stadium seating. An athlete who competes in the high jump and long jump for the Warrior track and field team, Ryan is majoring in communication studies. He plans to go to graduate school but is still considering options for his future.

During a semester with the Urban program in San Francisco, Ryan did his internship with a public defender. Working with case files and motions, talking to clients and going to court were good experiences, which convinced him that he had no desire to be a lawyer. “I ran into the most interesting people,” he says. “The justice system has its own cultures, between the lawyers, the criminals and the jail staff. It was a challenge to find my way around the different systems.”

Matt is quick to note that he has not given Ryan a lot of advice. “Ryan is a mature student — I don’t remember being so mature at his age. We have simply shared our lives and supported each other in prayer. I felt called to become a prayer partner, and the experience has indeed been a blessing.”