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June 2009

In their own words: Christian education

Ashley Gonzalez reads from the Bible during her baptism. She is a junior elementary education major at Southwestern.

Ashley Gonzalez reads from the Bible during her baptism. She is a junior elementary education major at Southwestern.

Bill Kilgore baptizes Sean Amos, a senior pre-dental student at Southwestern Adventist University. Sean is from Brunswick, Maine.

Bill Kilgore baptizes Sean Amos, a senior pre-dental student at Southwestern Adventist University. Sean is from Brunswick, Maine.

Ingo Sorke baptizes Thomas Moosey, who first came to Southwestern Adventist University through a popular GPS-based game.

Ingo Sorke baptizes Thomas Moosey, who first came to Southwestern Adventist University through a popular GPS-based game.

Ashley Gonzales, Sean Amos, and Thomas Moosey don’t claim to have chosen Christian education. What they do claim, however, is that the Christian education they’re receiving at Southwestern Adventist University is fulfilling, inspirational, challenging, and above all, led by God.

Born Again

Ashley Gonzalez is a junior elementary education major at Southwestern. She comes from Mission, Tex., where both of her parents are teachers in public education. There were few youth in her home church and most of her friends were from the public high school she attended.

“My mom went to an Adventist college, and wanted me to go to an Adventist university,” she says, “but I chose to go to a public university in South Texas. It was the darkest time of my life.

“I was living in the dorm and going to parties, doing things I never thought I’d do. I chose biology as a major, mostly because I was thinking about the money I could make. I was failing all of my classes— and I didn’t even care.”

Gonzalez says she began to ask herself what she really wanted from life. “That’s when I knew I needed to go to Southwestern. I’d always known about the school because my mom wanted me to go. I enrolled in January 2008.”

From that point, she says, her life changed drastically. She changed her major to elementary education. “I think teaching is just in my blood and it’s what God wants for me.”

She also started reading the Bible. “The assistant campus pastor, Islem Mattey, really encouraged me. She gave me Bible studies and showed me Christ. I decided to recommit myself to God. I’d been baptized when I was 11, but the decision to be re-baptized was really important to me.”

Gonzalez was re-baptized in March 2009 and went to the Philippines in May to help preach an evangelistic series with other Southwestern students. She has become a spiritual leader on Southwestern’s campus, leading out in spiritual programs, doing outreach, and singing.

“When I was at the public university, people didn’t really care about you the way they do at Southwestern. Here the teachers care if you succeed or not, and you are always being encouraged spiritually.

“I never really thought about where I’d be after college,” she says, “but now I see myself living in Keene and teaching at the Adventist elementary school here. That would be wonderful. But whatever I do, I want it to be God’s decision.”

The Value of Christian Fellowship

“People have told me not to go to Christian schools, but I’ve seen what’s on the other side,” says Sean Amos, a senior pre-dental student at Southwestern from Brunswick, Maine.

“I went to an Adventist school as a young child, and had a bad experience because I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and the school I went to didn’t want to deal with me. So I went to public school from then and on through high school.”

“I was planning to go to a public university in Maine or somewhere nearby when I graduated from high school, but my uncle told me about Southwestern and said I should apply.”

Amos was nervous about going to an Adventist school because of the experience he’d had as a kid. As a result of the experience, his family had been discouraged and attended church off and on for a few years. Amos credits Pastor Gary Blanchard as pulling his family back into the church.

Amos did apply to Southwestern and when he was accepted, decided to try it. “My freshman year was amazing. If I could, I’d live that year for the rest of my life. The friends I made then have been my best friends since. “

But, Amos says, he decided to try the public university closer to home.

“Having been at Southwestern and having been surrounded by Christians, it was disheartening to be in an environment where everyone—teachers and students—was talking about parties and drinking. When I walked into a classroom at the public university, I was one of hundreds. The teachers didn’t know who I was.

Amos got a part-time job at a law firm near the university and started making quite a bit of money. “If I hadn’t left that university,” he says, “I would have stayed with that job and been consumed by money, I’m sure of that.”

Amos returned to Southwestern, appreciating its Christian environment more than ever. He says he’d wanted to be baptized for as long as he could remember, but had always put it off.

“I told myself I’d do it later,” he says, “but later was always pushed back.”

One day, though, he says, he walked into Islem Mattey’s office and said he wanted to be baptized. He took Bible studies, and in April of this year he was baptized. “It’s the easiest thing in the world,” he says, “to give yourself to Christ.”

Amos plans to graduate from Southwestern in May 2010, and then apply to dental school. “And that’s all in God’s hands,” he says.

Evolutionist to Creationist, Atheist to Adventist

Thomas Moosey came upon Southwestern through geocaching, a popular sport that involves finding items hidden by other “geocachers” using global positioning satellites (GPS). A geocacher had hidden a cache on the bridge in Southwestern’s Callicott Student Park, and while searching for the cache, Moosey saw the Thomsen Observatory.

An amateur astronomer, Moosey was intrigued and inquired about the school. He’d always wanted to be a science teacher. But, Moosey decided, he couldn’t afford it.

Around the same time, an injury Moosey had received while serving in the military forced him to file for disability. Because he’d have to stop working as an industrial mechanic, Veterans Affairs encouraged him to go back to school. The government would pay for his retraining.

He chose to attend Southwestern and enrolled as a Life Science major, with the intention of being a high school teacher. He says that in the ten years that the school has offered the Life Science degree, he was its first student.

“It requires more courses than an average degree, and it’s intended to take you straight into teaching. Most science majors want to get a biology or chemistry degree and then go on to do post-graduate work.” As an older student, Moosey says, it was just what he wanted.

“When I started at Southwestern I was an atheist,” he says. “My first semester I took Philosophy of Science with Art Chadwick. It took me from being an evolutionist to being a creationist. Chadwick is very inspirational, very spiritual, and very scientific. He knows what he’s talking about, and that’s what I like.

“I came to the realization that there is a Satan out there, and if there really is a Satan, there really has to be a God.”

“I started Bible studies by myself, but I couldn’t get anywhere. So I ended up doing Bible studies with Dr. Chadwick once a week. He brought my faith up and helped me understand Daniel and Revelation.”

“I accepted Christ in my heart, and then over the last couple of years I got to the point that I needed to take it further. That’s why I got baptized.”

Moosey was baptized in March of this year, and he will begin his student teaching at Chisholm Trail Academy in the fall. He will graduate, God willing, he says, in December, and hopes that after graduation he can stay in the area and teach at a local school.

The Mission

Southwestern’s president, Eric Anderson, says he’s proud of the university’s commitment to excellence and personal growth through Christian education. “Ashley, Sean, and Thomas are examples of how God works though our campus. And in turn, our campus is encouraged by them to continue His work.”

Jessica Lozano, SWAU director of marketing and public relations

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