Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Adventist Education Prepared Me for Ministry

Pastor Buzz Menhardt helps Ben Williams celebrate his graduation at Shenandoah Valley Academy Pastor Buz Menhardt helps Ben Williams celebrate his graduation at Shenandoah Valley Academy

My name is Ben Williams, and I am a graduate in Shenandoah Valley Academy’s (SVA) Class of 2014. There are many aspects of SVA that I have enjoyed: dorm life, playing sports, learning to grow into independence and taking care of myself. I’ve also enjoyed many opportunities to learn new skills, such as welding—a skill I’ve already been able to apply. I have especially enjoyed going out and seeing God’s wondrous works in nature, spending time with Him while hiking.

However, what I cherish most about SVA is the spiritual opportunities afforded me. It was these opportunities that led me to feel my calling to ministry for the Lord. Not only was I able to get involved on campus in various ways, but Buz Menhardt, associate pastor of the New Market (Va.) church, started to take me into New Market and the surrounding towns to teach me various skills of ministry and how to recognize opportunities to apply them.

I was even able to go out of the country to Panama for a mission trip my junior year. It was an amazing experience that I would not trade for anything. We helped build a church, a kitchen and even held a Vacation Bible School. I was able to help people have a place to worship and built friendships I will always cherish. It started a love for mission trips and service to others that I did not know I had. My only regret is that I didn’t go on more mission trips through SVA!

If it was not for my experiences at SVA and the numerous spiritual activities, as well as the spiritual environment as a whole, I know my walk with the Lord would not be as strong as it is today. Not only have I been able to participate in spiritual activities and gain great tools for ministry, I have also been blessed to gain lifelong spiritual friendships. I met my best friend, Fernando Son, at SVA. I can laugh and joke with him then turn right around and sing hymns and study God’s Word with him.

I plan to attend Emmanuel Institute in Pullman, Mich., to continue learning new tools to help further the gospel mission. After that, I plan to attend a Seventh-day Adventist college; I am not sure yet which one I’ll choose but am open to God’s calling. I plan to major in theology and to use that degree to uplift Christ in whatever role He has planned for me.

SVA helped mold me into the man I am today. And, I am blessed with lifelong friendships I gained there. God changed my life and set me on the right path; the tool He used was Shenandoah Valley Academy.




Congratulations, Ben! On your successful graduation, your fervor for Christ's ministry, and your courage to write this wonderful article. You are blessed by God with wonderful parents, an exemplary mentor (Buz), and a sense of purpose.
May God keep you safe as you continue to learn and to work.

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