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Entries in Charis Bible College Online (2)

Monday
Jan042016

Just Trust Me

Aaron HochgertelIt was a Sunday night two years ago. Our church youth group had been divided into boys and girls that night, and I was leading the boys, letting them share any major “God moments” they had experienced lately. One of the boys, one who didn’t talk often, raised his hand and began to pour out his heart, sharing his battle with depression.

He told us that a week ago, he had been in his bathroom at home, considering suicide—he said he didn’t want to deal with the pain anymore. But just as he’d been thinking about ending his life, he’d remembered a discussion we had at youth group the month before. I had taught that even when we are at our lowest, even on our worst day, God is still speaking to us and is going to bring us through. He told us that when he remembered what I had said, he’d called out to God to speak to him, and he’d heard God say, “My love will always be greater than your pain…just trust Me.”

After hearing his story, every guy in our group was in tears. I was in awe that God would take my simple words and use them to impact a student’s life. I guess that’s what keeps me passionate about youth ministry: You never know what to expect or what will stick, but you always keep planting. A student might never remember one of my lessons, but they’ll remember that I cared enough to teach them. That’s what I love about teens—they don’t care about the words; they care about the heart behind the words. If every student who comes through our youth ministry knows that I love them and, more importantly, that Jesus loves them, then I call that success.

My words aren’t magic, and to be honest, I don’t even clearly remember every lesson. But God plants something into these students’ hearts, and only God knows when it will produce a harvest. I am so blessed and honored to be used by God to pour into these teens’ lives.

And to think, I almost walked away from it all.

After graduating from high school, one of my biggest struggles was deciding where I would pursue my education. My desire was to go to Oklahoma, but God had different plans for me. I heard Him tell me to stay at my home church and accept the position of Youth Ministry Director. For many people, leaving home is a sign of faith, a willingness to follow God. But for me, staying where He placed me was my act of faith.

Then one day, my dad pointed me to the Charis Online website, and immediately I knew that this was the path for me. Without it, I would not be able to go through school and minister to these teens at the same time. I am so excited to see God at work in me and to see it to flow into these young men and women, just like it did on that Sunday night.

Monday
May252015

An Unexpected Journey

For months, Karen Tinger had been trying to find a good book for studying the Old Testament. “I saw the announcement that Charis Bible College was starting online courses,” she explains, “and there was a course called Old Testament Survey, by Wendell Parr.” Karen immediately enrolled, not sure what to expect from an online course. Little did she know that she had just taken the first step of a journey that would lead her beyond her wildest dreams.

From her dining room, Karen had the opportunity to fellowship with other students from around the world. “I was fully enjoying the incredible experience of learning together with other students,” recounts Karen. “We also had a fantastic facilitator who journeyed along with us—ready to explain, encourage, and provide additional experiences or teachings to help us comprehend to our fullest potential.”

What started out as a desire to learn more about the Old Testament turned into an online, at-home source of fellowship. “And if I was away from home, I could still connect through the internet,” explains Karen. “It was so amazing to have such great fellowship with spiritually hungry believers right at my fingertips!”

One of the features of Charis Online that really captured both Karen’s heart and attention was the facilitators and their heart with each student to help foster a closer walk with the Lord. “They love to bring others into the love of Christ that they have come to know. They’re very personable and love to connect with you.”

Not only did Karen gain connections, but she also found some lasting friendships. A few years after taking her course, one of the online facilitators emailed Karen after seeing her graduate from Charis, congratulating her on her accomplishment. “I was so honored to think that one of my facilitators from three years ago not only remembered me but also still had my email address and contacted me. These facilitators genuinely take an interest in every student’s life.”

“I really had no idea the Lord had me on a specific journey,” admits Karen. “I was just enjoying the individual courses and fellowship, not really having a plan in mind.” But after finishing the first-year curriculum through the Distance Learning Program, Karen started her second year at the Charis location in Gardner, Massachusetts. “I am so thankful that Charis offers the different formats to take the courses. They truly make the learning experience convenient for anyone’s schedule. There are no excuses for not getting started!”

Just four weeks after graduation, her journey would continue as she made the move to Colorado to begin the Third Year in the Charis Business School. Today Karen is employed at Charis as the administrative assistant for the student portal, working with directors of other Charis locations, some of whom were her very own facilitators when she was enrolled in Charis Online. They were sowing seeds into her life, and now she gets to sow into theirs. “You never know where that first step is going to take you!”