Charis Bible College graduates, Ken Settles and his wife, Shelley, have known each other since they were kids. The two can recall riding the same school bus from the time Shelley was in first grade. Much has changed since those childhood days in Washington State; the Settles have been married for thirty-five years and over the course of that time they have raised a family, moved around the country, started a business that ended in bankruptcy, worked hard to get back on their feet, and along the way they each found Jesus. Now, after three years attending CBC-Colorado, they have devoted their time and resources to sharing the Gospel Truth in Arizona, where they launched CBC-Phoenix.
Prior to receiving Jesus as his Savior, Ken lived with a just-get-through-life mentality, hiding from life in books, movies and computer games. Several brushes with death, including driving his wife and six-month-old daughter off a mountain road in Montana, brought him to the feet of the cross. With just a couple of bruises to show for the accident, Ken realized his need for something more—a Savior. Although he gave his life to the Lord, he would continue to lack relationship with Jesus.
Shelley, found the Lord at age sixteen as she was seated on the platform in a Masonic Hall. At the time she held the office of Chaplain in her girls group, the Rainbows, and after reciting the prayer at the opening of the meeting she heard the Lord say, "You pray to me, but you don't even know me." Shelley can still recall the chills she felt at that moment. The next day she opened the phone book and with her eyes closed, pointed to a church on the page, and chose to attend the following Sunday. It happened to be a Baptist church, where Shelley was born again a few months later.
Although both were born again, and attended church regularly, the lack of true discipleship left them with less than God's best. Shelley remembers the first time she heard Andrew on the radio over the airwaves near Portland, Oregon. It was in the early nineties, and she was driving in her car during the hardest stretch of the Settles married life; a time when the couple was losing everything due to the failure of their business endeavors. "My first thought was, 'Who is this guy?' Andrew was saying things that the Lord had shown me in the Word decades before, things that I had dismissed thinking surely the pastor must know more than I did. Andrew's teaching was nearly opposite what I had learned in church," Shelley said.
During these hard times Shelley began receiving Andrew's audio tapes in the mail. She would receive three free teachings a week, and the Settles would listen to them over and over again. "We ended up losing everything. I played Andrew's tapes almost 24/7 just to try to keep the torment at bay and my mind on the Word. He kept me sane," said Shelley.
The first teaching that made an impact on Shelley was The True Nature of God, and for Ken it was Spirit, Soul and Body. "Spirit, Soul and Body made sense of things that had puzzled me. Also it seemed to empower me, and showed me that things in me could change," said Ken.
In 2003, the Settles were living in Florida. It was there that they became active in a non-denominational church, and Ken began to serve as part of the praise and worship team. Both Ken and Shelley found the best jobs they had ever held. Ken serviced mobile medical units for the United States Air Force. These units were flown all over the world, especially to the Middle East. At the same time, Shelley managed the Florida division of the Jackson Hewitt Tax Services company, where she hired and supervised tax preparers working in three counties.
Shelley attended her first Summer Family Bible Conference in Colorado Springs in 2004. During the week-long conference she began to feel a pull in her spirit to attend Charis Bible College. The following year, Ken attended the summer conference with Shelley, but it wasn't until the conference in 2006, that Ken yielded to the Lord and agreed with Shelley that it was time to enroll in CBC. Ken came to realize it was God leading the couple to go to school, in part as an answer to his own prayer for a change of heart. "We signed up for CBC, went home, quit the best jobs we'd ever had, found renters and moved to Colorado to begin CBC," said Shelley.
The Settles made a commitment to attend CBC for the full three year program—two years to graduate and a third-year apprenticeship. For Shelley, each year was a blessing, better than the previous. "I loved every minute of it," said Shelley. While the couple attended school they also worked for Andrew in the ministry's Phone Center.
For Shelley the idea of planting a CBC extension school was birthed in her spirit the moment she realized the other extension schools had been planted by previous CBC graduates. Ken agreed he would like to pursue planting a school as well, and the two simply believed that the opportunity would come. Ken kept the Settles' options open by saying, "Wherever you call us—thank You God."
During their apprenticeship year, the call to plant a school came; AWM suggested the Settles launch a school in Phoenix. The couple made the decision to spend their third-year preparing for the start up of the school in Arizona. They attended the Phoenix GTS in 2010 and introduced the plan to launch a school in the area. Later in June 2010, AWM granted approval for the school and the Settles were off and running. Doors opened and classes started in late November with seventeen full-time and eleven part-time students. The Settles are looking forward to kicking off their second academic year later this month, and are excited to be sharing the almost-too-good-to-be-true news with the students at CBC-Arizona.