Hometown: Hutchinson, Kan., now living in Hesston
Family: Wife, Carlota Ponds and daughter, Gail
Area of study: Pastoral Ministries
How did you choose Hesston?
In 1998, after 35 years of drug use, I checked into a VA hospital for post-traumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam War. I wanted to change who I was. I got involved with several ministries including a prison ministry at the Hutchinson (Kan.) Correctional Facility. My wife and I talked about the possibility of ministry for me, but I didn’t feel like I could take time out for seminary.
One day, my wife was in Hesston for a work event. She had some time to spare so she stopped by the college. It was after work had ended for the day, but someone happened to still be in the Admissions office and she picked up some information for me. Dave Greiser (Director of Pastoral Ministries at the time) helped everything fall into place from there.
How were you challenged by the Pastoral Ministries program?
When I started at Hesston I had a lot of preconceptions and was skeptical of theologians and theology. They seemed to leave out the spiritual aspect of what I believe church is about. When I took Bib Lit, I learned the story I thought I knew in a new way. I began to learn critical thinking, and in the process of acclimating myself to that, I developed a theology I can call my own. I am proud of that.
What were some highlights of your Hesston College experience?
The relationships I have built have been such a blessing to me. I realized I was able to interact with the young people, and they gave me a glimpse of what God is all about by helping me figure out how school was different after 40 years. I was able to connect with the other Pastoral Ministries students by letting them in on personal pain, crying and praying with them. Allowing the sensitivity within me to come out was a turning point for me.
What do you think about Hesston’s #2 ranking?
The ranking starts with the integrity, hard work and caring from President Keim and the administration and staff he has surrounded himself with. Hesston has the reputation it does because people care. When you have a relaxed environment, learning and success come easy. It also comes from the students’ ability to help people once they leave.
What are your plans for the future?
This summer I am going to drive the support vehicle for a 73-year-old man who is riding his bicycle from Santa Cruz, Calif., to Virginia Beach, Va. I am going to use that time for discernment – take all this change in and figure out what God wants me to do from here. I would ultimately like to work with people who have dependencies and addictions.