Joi McClellan is a first-year dental student at the University of Michigan. You may remember her as a missionary last year when she was praying for God to lead in her decision of dental school.
Joi’s first reflection is that being a student is harder than being a missionary, “I knew to expect this, school is a lot. It is easy for it to be my number one and only focus. This year has been a journey of asking God, ‘what I am here for?’ I know I am here to get a DDS degree, but I know that God has me here for something more. To share the gospel.”
The journey began in the first semester relating to God in a transactional way. Joi explains, “I had this warped idea of that if I put God first in my studies that He would help me to do well. If I spend extra time doing work for God, like ministry activities that God would in turn give me what I need for my studies.”
However, mid-fall, all that thought process was challenged because she realized she was thinking of God as a machine. She reflected, “I give God time and He will in return He will give me good grades. I realized that even if I take the time to study the Bible with a friend that it does not mean God will give me a good grade on my test, but He is with me in my academics.”
God began to change Joi’s heart to see a bigger picture of ministry and how He desired to work in and through her life. Her prayer turned from “What should I do, God?” to “God, You put me here today, show me what serving You looks like.”
Joi’s perspective continues to grow this semester and God has moved her to ask that He be glorified no matter the grade. Now she prays, “Whatever way You think that You can be glorified, whether higher grades or lower grades, please make it happen, all I want is to bring people to You.”
While reading the Scriptures one morning, she realized that by spending time with God, He is the source of all wisdom, and He will grant her wisdom like Daniel, thus making her wiser than her teachers. As she began to pray that prayer, one particularly difficult exam came back with a solid A.
The temptation to study at the expense of her health was something she prayed about before entering the university campus. Suicide rates are very high among dental students. Students often meet the rigorous demand of academics and clinics at the expense of their health. Joi began to see the demands, but she had purposed in her heart while a missionary to not abuse her body for the sake of academics.
In March of last year, she prayed for God to wake her up each morning to have time with Him, and He has done so ever sense. She shares “It is just a confirmation that God doesn’t intend for me to abuse my body to accomplish His work and succeed in my studies.” She tries to be in bed between nine and ten o’clock at night. This has opened the way for her to minister to her classmates who often stay up very late to study.
One day she was talking with a classmate, and his seatmate said, “I am so tired.” She agreed, but he responded, “No I am tired tired.” She talked with him a bit more and realized he was very discouraged. They finished their conversation, and both went back to work. Joi prayed for him that night but was convicted to do something more. She found his email address and sent him a message that she was praying for him. He responded that her email was such an encouragement.
CAMPUS is piloting a mentorship program, where Joi is a mentee. In one of her sessions, she was trying to process how to do ministry, knowing what to say yes and no to. Her mentor pointed out that her goal is not to reach all 108 students in her class but rather to take five minutes. In other words, to be present in the five minutes she has with whomever God has placed with her at that moment. Changing her focus has allowed her to meet more of her classmates, minster to them, and pray more specifically for their needs.
The missionary training program for her was unique because it was during a time when everything was still shut down. However, the greatest work was the heart work that God did while in the program. Joi says, “So much of my experience last year was God working in my heart personally. What God was doing in my heart was the biggest benefit to help me this year.”
When Daniel was taken captive and enrolled in the educational programs of Babylon, he purposed in his heart to not defile himself with the wine and meat from the king’s table. So, what does his example have to do with students? The academic life of pursuing a degree often eats away at students’ health. Joi McClellan frames the demands of dental school in context of God’s higher call for her to be a missionary and purposed in her heart that she would not abuse her body for academic achievement.
I interviewed Joi asking about her experience as an Adventist student attending the Dental School in the nation. She explained that suicide rates are high among dental schools, which speaks to the rigorous schedule and expectations of dental students.
Joi knew taking care of her body could only happen with God’s help and choosing to make it a priority. While a missionary, she had asked God to wake her up in the morning to have time with Him, and she would not set an alarm and would make sure to sleep at a healthy time. She knew acting by faith during the missionary training program was easier when there were not the deadlines and appointments of dental school. However, she trusted God and has not set an alarm to this date.
During the fall, she had a transactional view of how to relate to God in terms of her academic success. She knew having good grades would be a witness to her professors and classmates. However, through a series of events and conversations God reveled to her that He can use her to be a witness with higher grades or lower grades.
In the second semester, Joi’s prayers began change to “God, show me what ministry looks like here. I just want you to be glorified, I simply desire to be a vessel for people to see and know You.”
God is answering this prayer in simple ways. Although Joi does not have the time as she did in her undergrad, God is teaching her to be present to whomever happens to be in her path at that moment.
Joi went to ask a friend a question, and his seatmate said, ‘I am so tired.” She responded with ‘yea I understand.’ Yet, he pressed the message further giving Joi the impression that he was not doing well. She listened for a while, and they went back to their work. However, in the evening she was really impressed to pray for him, and in the morning, she found his email address and sent him a message telling him she was praying for him. He responded that it was the encouragement he needed.
Joi has been able share with a classmate about her decision to take care of her health and with another about the rest of the Sabbath. As a result of her focus to be being present and prayerful about the peers she encounters at school, Joi has been a testament to God’s faithfulness. God has blessed her grades, and her classmates, who are not religious, have asked her to pray for them and their studies.
If you are a student and find yourself tired and overwhelmed, consider stepping out in faith and asking God to help you to be faithful in taking care of your health and giving God the best part of your day. He desires to use you to be a blessing and to connect with you personally each day.
I was not completely certain if pastoral ministry was for me. In my mind, there are many ways to use my pastoral degree: start a Bible training school, volunteer in a ministry, do evangelism in a professional field, or pastor a church. However, if I have learned anything, I’ve learned one thing in my journey with God—to always be willing to be led by God WHEREVER He takes you.
God used C.A.M.P.U.S. Residency & Fellowship program to show me where I need to be. Just a little background, even though I was in the C.A.M.P.U.S. Residency program, I was never 100% sure that God has called me specifically to pastoral work. One day, I was reading Pastoral Ministry with one goal in mind—I hope this book will answer my question, “How can I be sure that God wants me to serve in pastoral ministry?” And I came across this quote:
“Those who are about to enter upon the sacred work of teaching Bible truth to the world should be carefully examined by faithful, experienced persons. … They selected the men whom their judgment would accept, and then they placed them before the Lord to see if He would accept them to go forth as His representatives. No less than this should be done now.” Pastoral Ministry, 44
So, my conclusion was that I need to be examined by experienced ministers, and I need their endorsement as well. I prayed over that quote and asked for His guidance. As time passed, I forgot about the prayer and began my Fellowship program with C.A.M.P.U.S.
Then one day I was contemplating Pastoral Ministry a lot and had a dream that went something like this. I was organizing AY for my church back in Indonesia and had invited a pastor to preach. He used to be the Dean at my college. Afterwards he said, “Hey, Grady. I think they are going to hire you as a pastor. It’s nothing official yet, but it seems like the brethren are moving forward with it.” In my dream I was surprised but was then interviewed by pastor-friend for a pastoral position. At this point I woke up and thought, “Wow, that was kinda interesting. Never had a dream like that before.”
The same morning, I checked my phone and there was a text from a pastor I never met before inviting me to be his assistant pastor. He introduced himself and then said, “You have been referred to me by a few of my colleagues. Would you be interested to be an Associate Pastor at my church?”
I thought “What a timing! But at the same time, I wondered, “Who are his colleagues?” Providentially, the colleagues were actually my former professors who are currently pastoring in North America; I highly respect both as experienced ministers. This led me to remember the prayer I prayed awhile back. It was like God speaking to me directly. “Isn’t this what you’ve been praying for? Endorsement from experienced ministers?”
I’m not the person who trusts dream that much. However, I do believe in providential leadings like this. God met the requirements that I’ve read from Pastoral Ministry. He met me where I was. And I realized that He had orchestrated everything in a perfect timing.
In August, Eva and I accepted the call to pastor the Gladwin and Marion churches. As I reflect on how God has led, I also realize this would not have happened without the support, encouragement, and endorsement that I’ve received from CAMPUS.
“God has spoken, and His servant must obey; the happiest place on earth for him was the place where God would have him to be.” PP 126.3
Andrew Park is no stranger to Public Campus Ministry. He has served as a CAMPUS scholar, public campus missionary in Hong Kong, and as a CAMPUS fellow. While fulfilling his one-year internship in packaging, he did not feel fulfilled in his professional role, his one desire was to reach his co-workers.
God opened the door for him to serve as a missionary in Hong Kong after he graduated. While in Hong Kong, a call came for him to serve as the GYC president. When considering this position, he knew it would change his professional trajectory. The time commitment as a GYC president would make it very difficult to work in a professional setting. He prayerfully accepted and came to work with CAMPUS full-time as a fellow.
In the spring of 2021, God began to open doors for Andrew to consider serving in pastor ministry for the Michigan Conference. The official call came to serve in the Vassar and Bay City churches. As Andrew reflected on how God had led him in the past, he knew God was redirecting to pastoral ministry, and he accepted the call.
Here is his reflection, “God may not make things clear immediately, but as He opens doors of providence and we walk through it, He will reveal His will according to His own time and method. Lastly, He knows where we will be of the greatest good according to the capabilities He’s given us – we need to trust Him step by step, even if it’s not what we would have originally envisioned for ourselves.”
God has used Andrew in a mighty way to reach the students at Michigan State University, as well as the friends of the University Church in East Lansing. He and his wife Nichole are missed, but God is so faithful to led them to where He needs them at this time in salvation’s history. Please keep them in prayer as they transition. They are not too far from Saginaw Valley State University.
When considering the next call that God may be making in your life, know that even if the story that unfolds is not what we would have originally envisioned for yourself, because He is the best Author. He has a way of writing the most beautiful stories and you can trust Him in the process.
We are excited to have Josh Ahn join the CAMPUS team. He will be serving part-time with the collegiate and young adult groups at Michigan State University as well as serving part-time with the UChurch in East Lansing. Listen below as he shares a little more of what led him to transition from teaching high school students at GLAS to influencing the next generation of Adventist leaders.