by Joi McClellan, Missionary Intern 2020-21 East Lansing Program
I grew up knowing the importance of Bible study but was consistently overwhelmed when I approached it. I would open my Bible and start reading but would hardly get through a phrase before doubting my understanding of the English language and feeling a pressing demand to uncover something most profound. I would then haul my family’s gargantuan Strong’s Exhaustive (rather, exhausting) Concordance, and look up every word of the text in Greek. Not finding any great spiritual insight from that endeavor, I would then attempt to read every single cross reference possible connected to the verse. For bonus points, I would look at all available English Bible translations. This is what I felt constrained to do every time I opened my Bible. A tad exhausting? You bet.
My tiresome yet earnest efforts reflected my value of and desire for Bible study. I saw others gaining deep and meaningful insights yet wondered why my experience rarely paralleled theirs. On the contrary, Bible study was stressing me out, and I was growing to resent it. Realizing that something was wrong with my approach, and desperately wanting to experience enriching time with Jesus, I laid aside my defective deep-sea diving gear and headed back up to the proverbial surface to take in some vital breaths. I turned my attention to gaining a love for God’s Word through simple reading, mediating, and memorization. This decision allowed me to exponentially grow in my devotion for God and love for His Word, but I nonetheless desired to one day know how to dive into the treasures of the Word without the stress and pressure that my former methods had imposed.
At the beginning of 2020, I knew it was time for me to start studying again. God was restoring my love for the Word of God and slowly taking me into Bible study, but I had a long way to go. His purposes unbeknownst to me included, God brought me to CAMPUS, a fancy-sounding class called Hermeneutics. In this class, which taught practical steps for contextual and thorough Bible study, I was given the tools to begin chipping away bit by bit deeper into the Word of God. Ironically, we still used cross-referencing and concordances (CAMPUS is so cool that we use an app), but these helpful steps did not make me feel like every word must be read in Hebrew in order to gain insight or that I had to track down every related verse in the whole canon of scripture. I learned how to approach Bible study with a large-tooth comb and work up to a fine-tooth, meanwhile learning to look for beautifully woven threads of the love of God that give practical and devotional insights.
Not only has what I gained from Hermeneutics been personally impactful, but God immediately presented an outlet to put my learning to regular use. Following the completion of this class, I helped to start a young adult Sabbath School class in which hermeneutical Bible study is the foundation. Co-facilitating this Bible study keeps me on my toes and regularly diving into the Word with a lot less stress and pressure
By God’s sweet grace, and through the means of my CAMPUS class, Hermeneutics, Bible study is no longer as threatening and wearisome as it used to be.
Joi McClellan always had an interest in missions, but not necessarily the type of missions you might think of when that word comes to mind. Joi just completed her undergraduate studies this past spring at Southern Adventist University, majoring in music and working hard to get into dental school. During her junior year, she considered taking a gap year upon graduating and prior to dental school. She considered the options for her the gap year: primarily research in different parts of the country, but possibly overseas missions too. However, as she moved through her senior year, and nothing had panned out for the research programs, she began to ponder other options, i.e. something non-academic.
At Southern, there is a large emphasis on overseas missions. Although she never felt compelled that God was leading her to overseas missions, she considered it. Joi contacted friends, MC and Abby Shin, who have a music school and Center of Influence in Cambodia, and began exploring the possibility of helping with the school. Though there was an opening, she was still unsure that was exactly where God was leading for this year and still kept her eyes open for other opportunities– something that would really make her grow spiritually and individually.
Considering her pre-dental track, Joi believed it was unlikely that she would be on an Adventist campus again for dental school, and thought it would be ideal to gain experience and training that would prepare her for attending a secular university. She had observed throughout her undergrad years many students who, after spending a year in overseas missions, would return to pursue the same goals and live the same lives as before. She wanted something different.
She heard about CAMPUS as a child when the director came to speak in Atlanta. When GYC came around last December, she decided to stop by the CAMPUS booth to get information. Upon returning to school, in a random conversation with a friend, David Glenn, she shared her lack of direction in trying to discover where God was leading for her gap year. She mentioned different possibilities that had come to mind, which included her potential interest in CAMPUS. David was from Michigan and had worked with a CAMPUS Missionary Alumni at summer camp. He was eager to connect her with Miranda Lentz (17-18) and Pastor Jermaine Gayle.
Joi’s connection with them was extremely beneficial in understanding the program and opportunities for training and mentorship. She saw the Missionary Training Program as an opportunity to prepare her to be a missionary in her next steps of dental school, and also to practice living with purpose in the day-to-day culture of Western society. She wanted to be in an environment where she could live out the everlasting gospel and grow from the mentorship by like-minded people. Joi answered God’s call this year to join the MTP. Looking back, she realized that research for the gap year would not have worked as many physical campuses are closed this semester.
Joi has applied to multiple dental schools around the nation and has been accepted in to each of the schools. One of her top choices is the the University of Michigan. Please continue to keep her in prayer as she seeks to know God’s will in where she should attend for dental school.