During the 2009-2010 school year 9 students participated in the Pastor/Student Mentoring Program at Walla Walla University. Here are their stories:
This school year has been filled with many beneficial learning experiences and worthwhile opportunities for ministry and evangelism. I have spent much of my time gleaning wisdom from Pastor Bradshaw about interpersonal skills, preaching, and overseeing a church, but I have also spent considerable time in hands-on ministry such as visiting and encouraging church members, teaching Sabbath School lessons to college students, trying out my colporteur skills, and learning how to effectively present a Bible study.
One experience during this school year that has especially left an impression on me was the encouragement I was able to impart to church members during visitation. I accompanied Pastor Bradshaw on a series of visits to church members’ homes who were being cared for in hospitals or nursing homes. Often the people we visited were elderly and unable to come to church. Sometimes they were members that had just missed several Sabbaths of worship at the Village Church; and at other times, they were not even Adventists, just people in need of hope in the midst of a distressing world. Every visit included a Bible promise, a special prayer, and an inquiry as to what the church could do to meet their needs.
Many elderly members expressed relief in seeing us, saying that they were glad to know that their church family has not forgotten them. There were also many visits that I conducted with my brother Christoffer.
On one particular visit, Christoffer and I met with an elderly church member in her home. She had just recently endured the ordeal of losing her husband and encountering some difficulties with other family members. She had not stepped into church for many weeks. We listened as she tearfully told her story and then we offered some reassuring words, reminding her of God’s compassion, power, and wisdom. She told us about her life and then we talked about spiritual matters and the beauty and power of God’s Word. After sharing a Bible promise and having a word of prayer, Christoffer and I left, saying we hoped to see her in church next Sabbath.
A few weeks later, I was happy to know that she had begun attending church again. It was a wonderful feeling to know that God had been able to use me to bring peace and reassurance to a person’s life, and the experience taught me some lessons on handling sensitive situations.
God has blessed me with many experiences like this one and I am eager to continue on this path of ministry in the future.
This year Roger and I have been using Natural Church Development to focus on various areas of growth within the Umapine church. Just recently we have completed the NCD survey involving 30 church members and the pastor. We presented a workshop together on the 8 quality characteristics of a healthy church and spent considerable time facilitating the taking of spiritual gifts tests by our members.
I also spent many hours this year working on the www.umapineadventist.org website. A couple of weeks ago we were overwhelmingly blessed by a man who came to church and said the only reason why he was there was because he had seen the website which interested him enough to come to church.
Every month, as the weather is getting warmer, we are hosting soup suppers at our Friendship Center. Besides eating we have been setting up ping-pong on the lawn outside. Although we haven’t gotten a whole lot of response from the community, our presence is being made known.
It has been my privilege to work with Pastor Mike Lambert and the Stateline Seventh-day Adventist church as a student pastor.
During this past school year I have had the privilege of preaching two sermons, the first on the assurance of eternal life, and the second on the Biblical teaching of Bible study, which appeared to resonate with the members, many of whom told me after church how much they appreciated the message, and the fact that it was from the Bible and the Bible only.
During this past year Pastor Mike asked me to conduct prayer meetings on two occasions. We looked at Biblical passages that corresponded with the reading in the Spirit of Prophecy, (the ministry of healing) and after reading both, were able to compare one with the other in our discussion period, which showed that the writings of Ellen White are in complete agreement with scripture.
It has also been my privilege to have been asked to join a Friday night Bible study group, which included fellowship in visiting and breaking bread together, and the study of the Bible on various subjects. In this way we were drawn together as family, which is a critical aspect of the Christian experience, as Christianity is a relationship with God, and with others, and it is through building these relationships that we are able to plant seeds that someday will produce fruit.
After two quarters of facilitating a small group focused on Spiritual Growth, my goal of creating an environment in which the bonds of faith, found in Adventism, are strengthened, with God being revealed in each member as more than an intellectual idea, but also an immediate part of their everyday lives, has most definitely been seen. I would like to share one of the most visible ways in which this has happened.
One couple in my group has, like my wife and I, a young child. This couple had not yet taken their child to Sabbath School when they joined the group, despite their regularly attending an Adventist Church. They thought of Sabbath School as something for when their child was older, maybe even in school. But, after spending a week talking and experimenting with the idea of living out Christian community, they tried taking their child and have now gone on four different occasions. They are interacting with other parents and raising their child up in the church, becoming active within the body of Christ.
I have been encouraged by this type of spiritual development and plan to keep the group going as long as I remain in the Walla Walla Valley.
Working for others is the most fulfilling work one can do for his fellow man, but working for the salvation of others is the most supreme work one can do in life. This is the way I feel about the pastoral mentoring program here at Walla Walla University. I have had the pleasure of organizing students and adults from the Walla Walla community to go out, knock on doors, pass out Bibles, literature and do surveys.
From those efforts, have come many wonderful opportunities to share the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ with others. I led out a small study group that consists of about fifteen members. I consistently meet with students who share their struggles, triumphs and things that are going on with their family members and friends back at home. We have students over to our home once and sometimes twice a month to enjoy a home cooked meal and most times the numbers swell over twenty and the fellowship is grand. We have befriended a family of six and were impressed to help them with food, money and clothing for their children. We have had the opportunity to share literature, Bibles and prayer with this family.
I am currently conducting a weekly Bible study with a husband and wife who also have two teenage children and they have accepted all the Gospel truths up to this point including the Sabbath, we are praying for a family baptism.
We have many plans and ideals that I believe will be effective in reaching Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world for Christ.
My experience working with the youth at the College Place Spanish Church has been an incredible blessing. Going into the church I thought it would be difficult for the students to relate to me, a stranger, however they were incredibly accepting and eager to implement new programs and activities throughout the year. I quickly noticed that many of the youth were hesitant to speak up when it came to talking about God in our daily lives or how to apply what we leaned in church at school or home. It was a struggle to figure out how to get more communication, but I noticed a change taking place in the vespers program we began at the church. Youth who before would struggle just to stay focused during the program were volunteering to be group leaders for activities or even to pray. Not only that, but all of the youth has had the opportunity to be up front and participate in church activities, and what’s more is I can see their comfort level rise with each new opportunity.
One specific activity in which I noticed a change was the times we went to hand out the Glow, or “Brilla?’, pamphlets to people in Walla Walla and at the farm labor camp. At first many were hesitant, not sure if they were up to the idea of knocking on strangers’ doors to give out a booklet or even if they wanted to talk to people they didn’t know. One young man, in particular, was almost on the verge of going home at the thought, but we were able to persuade him to stay.
By the end, everyone was feeling pretty good and less intimidated; and that particular young man was no exception. In fact, while everyone else was walking back to the cars, he noticed we had missed some houses in an alley so he ran back to hand out the rest of his pamphlets because he wanted to make sure every house got one. It was truly a blessing to see the impact that had on the youth, because they felt good knowing they were helping to spread God’s word to their community.
Another particular case was the small group I participated in. The family was, from the very beginning, very interested and had lots of questions. They were very sincere and open about their struggles and eager to hear how they could overcome them in order to live according to the Bible. Over spring break they got married and began attending church on a regular basis. They have made their decision to be baptized and their children have also mentioned they would like to study to be baptized!
Those are just a few experiences and there is so much more taking place with the people, especially the youth, at the church. God is at work in their lives and I have seen tremendous, growth. I hope that they will continue to be led by God so that they can grow even more in their relationship with Him. I also pray that they would be open to be used for His service, in their homes, church, and school.
The highlight of this year was at the His Kids In Action retreat. As an initiative to solidify the program and bring more volunteers on board I along with the other His Kids In Action leaders had planned an information session as well as a retreat to recruit and train new volunteers and to bring the old volunteers together under a single mission and goal. Through the process, we created four teams of eight people to include about 30 volunteers from Walla Walla University and the community that help run both Sabbath School and the afternoon His Kids In Action program.
At the retreat we had a sundown worship that focused on why we were doing this program. It was amazing to hear the stories and the visions that each one of these young college students had for the program. Some have stopped going to church or only go on occasion finally felt like they had a reason to come a goal and mission. Others who had grown up going to Pathfinder, VBS, or Sabbath School programs were so excited too that they were the ones who now were giving back and running the programs. It was a joy to hear and see these thirty volunteers take time out of their busy schedules to serve and to see young Christians vibrant and alive. It gave me confidence in the church’s future.
Along with seeing the change in the volunteers, it was a joy to see our program has grown from 12 regular kids to about 22. What is amazing is that we have not even tried to recruit kids because we really don’t have much more room at the program. The kids themselves are asking their friends to come. It is the highlight of their week to go to church.
One week I was dropping a kid off from HKIA in trailer park when a kid I had never met before approached me with a friend he asked if we were from the church. He explained that he really wanted to come. I told him that we already had HKIA. But let him know that we had HKIA next week as well as Sabbath School. He asked me what time. When I said 9:15 in the morning he turned to his friend and said, “I will come over to your house and wake you up so that we can go.” It was so cool to see an excitement to come to church to learn about Jesus!
Another joy I saw was the change in one of the grandparent of the kids whom I have worked closely with. When I had first visited her about two years ago, her yard was a mess there were weeds everywhere and junk strewn all over. She wouldn’t let her husband in the house because he was usually drunk. She had three of her grandkids living with her and she was living off of social security. The Grandkids, were all very hyperactive at the program and defiant. One of them would often lie in the corner overwhelmed and would sleep because she never had a chance to at home.
Over these two years her grandkids started going to Adventist schools. The grandmother is going to church and was baptized and she has been instrumental in starting a women’s twelve step program at the church. She has gone back to school to get her GED so that she can start college to become a nurse or social worker. Her husband, who although doesn’t come to church, has stopped drinking and now lives with her in the house. She has stopped smoking. The grandkids with the grandmother’s support and help have been reunited with their mother. The kids are now very well behaved at church, and are much happier (although they are still very active.) One of the grandmother’s daughters was strung out on drugs and almost killed from abuse. The church helped pay for her to fly back to Walla Walla to live with her mother. She started coming to church, her whole life changed and she was also baptized. Her yard was dug up to wake a small garden. All the garbage had been picked up and there were flowers lining her house. Although her house is still humble, the change that Jesus Christ has given her on her heart has spread to her whole family, home, and community. Praise be to God!
I worked for Pastor Doug Brown at the Walla Walla City Church. When Pastor Doug hired us all on he had a vision of developing a youth group at his church. However, what made this youth group unique to others was the fact that Pastor Doug wanted this youth group to reach out specifically to those who attended the public high school right down the road from the church.
Pastor Doug had such passion about this group and it was clear that the Holy Spirit had impressed upon his heart to start a group like this. So we all quickly jumped on board! We got together for the first time in late September and prayed that God would instill a fire in young teen’s hearts to come to this group. We all had a feeling that if it was God’s will, He would provide the kids.
Our first youth group had two kids from Walla Walla Highschool that we had met earlier that day while passing out hot chocolate to the kids walking home from school along with one other girl from the Walla Walla Valley Adventist Academy. It was really fun and God really blessed that night! As time went on, our numbers gradually began to increase as God opened up more and more opportunities for us to witness about God to tons of kids at the public school and invite them to our youth group. It was very difficult at times and a little out of all of our comfort zones, but God really gave us the strength and courage to share Him.
One rainy day, after Christmas break, we were passing out hot chocolate and we met a kid named Joe. That night we had a youth group and we invited Joe and his friend Raymond to come. They attended that night and it seemed like they had a really fun time. We usually provide a meal every Thursday when we meet for youth night and these guys destroyed the food! I could tell that both of these guys probably didn’t eat that well at home. Joe and Raymond continued to come week after week. I don’t know whether it was the food that brought them back, the shelter, or just the friendship, but they both made it clear that it was not God. Neither of these boys wanted anything to do with God, especially Joe. He told me one day at our afterschool program that he believed in Satan but not in God. I wasn’t really sure how to take this. I didn’t know whether that meant he believed in Satan or just thought that he was something real. Either way I had a really bad feeling. Joe continued to come and things progressively got worse. I’m not exactly sure where it started, but when Joe first came to the youth group he was a wild, crazy, and outgoing guy. Now, he rarely even spoke to any of us. He would use profanity at us when we would try and ask him what was going on and would end up just sneaking off into some dark corner with his girlfriend Amber who had just recently started coming. We all knew something was seriously wrong and we prayed almost every day for Joe, but he continually rejected every one of our efforts to reach out to him. Everything kind of exploded one night when we decided to take the kids to a play at Walla Waila University. Joe starting calling one of the girls from our youth group terribly hurtful names, so I decided enough was enough and took Joe out of the room and talked with him one on one. His girlfriend Amber came storming out after me and things got out of hand. They begin yelling at me and saying that we were trying to force them to worship God and that we tricked them into coming to our youth group. I got the others and we tried to calm Joe down, but nothing seemed to be working. We told Joe and Amber that we needed to take them home, but they made it clear that they would not get in the car. So, we told them that they needed to call their parents, but they insisted on walking. It was about nine-thirty at night and we felt it was extremely irresponsible of us to let them walk home. This decision made them even angrier and Joe was about an inch from hitting me in the face, when God worked a miracle. Joe calmed down and he and Amber got in the car and we were able to take them home. Phew! We were all so physically and emotionally worn out from that night that we were ready to tell Joe that he could not come back to our youth group, but none of us really felt at peace about that decision so we waited and prayed. Joe came back the next week and we all set some clear boundaries with him. But it was still like pulling teeth every youth group working with he and Amber.
Things have slowly but surely gotten better with Joe. Some days it doesn’t feel like we’ve made an impact at all, but on those rare occasions he’ll say an encouraging word instead of a hateful one, he’ll open up to us about his problems rather than just putting up a wall, and not very often, but sometimes he’ll even participate in worship when usually he just sits in the next room. Now this may sound like we’re not making a lot of progress with Joe, but we feel like we are. Joe comes from a really, really rough home, where many of his family members have been abusive to him. Those kinds of scars are not healed easily by human effort. But with God all things are possible and He’s been doing some amazing things in Joe’s life lately. Just last week, while the others were having worship, I went over to see if he and Amber wanted to come and join us and we somehow ended up talking about God! I’m not sure how it happened, but the Holy Spirit was seriously working It was amazing! Our buddy Luis was speaking that night and Luis asked everyone to find a prayer partner and pray with each other. Now, it didn’t even occur that I should ask Joe and Amber to pray because they’ve turned it down so many times. But that night, I saw one of the most beautiful things in my entire life take place. God opened up the doors to both their hearts and I was able to pray with both Joe and Amber. Joe prayed first and then Amber followed. The prayers were simple, but they were so precious.
Seeing that take place made difficulties and struggles worth it! I don’t know if any of us thought Joe and Amber could have ever come to a place where they’d be praying together, but God is so big and so powerful. With Him all things are possible. I feel so blessed that God has enabled us to be his tools. It’s been a life-changing experience for all of us! I’m excited to see where Joe and Amber go from here, but from what I’ve seen God’s got some huge things in store for those two. I’m just glad we can be along for the ride!
It has been a great year. We have done many things that I have never experienced before, led out in a Bible Study on the book of John, organized prayer times in Heubach chapel, taught a 3-part Sabbath school series on the greatest—last commission. I also conducted a compassion international event, visited families, and had many meetings with my pastor/mentor.
Heubach chapel is a special place to me and Greg McKelvey. We decided that there should be more prayer on campus and that Heubach Chapel was the place to do it. 4-5 Monday through Thursday and we put out cards everywhere, handing them to friends and making new acquaintances with them. There were times no one came, but many times there was a small group gathered. I hesitate to say “usually’ because each day was entirely different from the one before.
There was one particular day that I didn’t think anyone would come. I was discouraged and thinking we might just as well stop doing Heubach chapel. Greg McKelvey was leading that day’s spring service and two girls and a boy had entered with us for personal prayer to God. After the normal 40 minutes (of personal/silent prayer) we began to pray up front together. One of the girls remained, however. She was distant and displaced. Greg went over to talk to her and as he did another girl introduced herself as the roommate of the sad girl. Night terrors were haunting her during the night robbing her of sleep. Her days were filled with the thought that night will come and with it, enormous fear. By the time we came close, the tears, were running like faucets and she was silent—she remained there hopeless. As we prayed for her she cried even more. We all stayed late, much later than we had planned, but one thing life teaches is that some of the greatest things God does are not planned, nor do they fit our schedule. God had given us the gift and privilege to be with her until God granted her the gift of peace and, as far as I know—undisturbed sleep. She came up to me afterwards, “I didn’t feel God hug me like you guys prayed for him to do, but I saw God shining in all of you. Thank you so much.”
It was a humble time of miraculous love. I realize that we all are equal in our desire and our need for God and our helplessness to control our lives. And sometimes the greatest miracle is the smallest act of love: a prayer, a hug, or just listening to someone’s story with God’s ears.