Student Life News
Bethesda Christian School alumna Julie Schoelles is an answer to prayer. Just ask Bethany Hartman, the U.S. Director of Haven of Hope Zambia, who prayed for over 18 months for God to send someone—the right someone—to help her in the ministry’s Pennsylvania office.
But Schoelles had been praying, too. The 2004 BCS graduate, who spent seven years working as a manuscript editor for Penn State University, had sensed for some time that the Lord was calling her to international ministry. So she took a class on missions, built relationships with people who had ministered around the world, and trusted God to open the right doors in His timing. Then she began volunteering part-time last year with Haven of Hope, whose Pennsylvania office just happened to be located in State College, the city in which she lives.
Haven of Hope’s child sponsorship program provides a Christian education, meals and medical care to over 200 orphans and vulnerable children in the Zambian cities of Ndola and Luanshya. Its mission also includes strengthening local churches by provided resources for congregations and training church leaders, as well as serving their communities.
FROM MANUSCRIPT EDITOR TO MISSIONARY
A few months after Julie began her volunteer work with Haven of Hope, its leadership informed her of the ministry’s plan to expand into Uganda in early 2017 and invited Julie to prayerfully consider joining its U.S.-based team. Following a visit to the Haven of Hope schools in Zambia and spending time seeking God’s will, she sensed that it was God’s intent for her to move into full-time missions work. In faith, Julie laid down her salaried job at Penn State to use her writing talent for advancing the Haven of Hope mission. Since May, Julie has served as the ministry’s Director of Communications, an unpaid position requiring her to raise financial support.
Because of the expansion into Uganda, the organization will soon change its name to Haven of Hope Global Ministries. “I am excited to serve in the midst of this transition,” Julie shared. “I continue to travel to Zambia and Uganda regularly, where I’m able to directly minister to the children in Haven of Hope’s schools and help lead mission teams that will serve the students, the surrounding community, and local churches.”
SEEDS PLANTED IN THE HEART OF A FUTURE MISSIONARY
In reflecting upon her life, Julie recognizes the seeds God planted for her future as a missionary. “Growing up, I was always interested in Africa, as my family knew missionaries there,” she explained. Through her seventh grade history teacher at Bethesda, Julie had the opportunity to become a pen pal with a Kenyan girl. Her interest in and love for the people of Africa deepened as a college student at Texas Christian University. “In college I became involved with an organization that brought attention to a decades-long conflict in Uganda. The profound suffering of the Ugandan people stirred my heart for their country and other African nations affected by conflict.”
But after accepting her manuscript editor position at Penn State, Julie’s focus was on her work. She found other causes to serve in her community and abroad.
Then, four years ago, Julie’s sponsorship of a Ugandan girl named Edivina dramatically altered the BCS alumna's life. “God used [Edivina] to completely reshape my dreams and my experience of following Him,” she recalled. “As I built a relationship with Edivina, I couldn’t learn enough about Uganda, its people, and its culture—and at the same time, poverty and the associated issues of disease, hunger, poor access to education, unemployment, the orphan crisis, and so on.”
Julie, whose original college major and career goal was to become a teacher, stated that during this season, she became captivated by the work of ministries in Uganda and other African nations that seek to improve the lives of the needy—especially through education—as they simultaneously share the gospel.
THE IMPACT OF A BCS SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION
Although Julie appreciates the academic education she received at BCS, she is even more thankful for the spiritual foundation received during her 13 years here. “I am thankful for a school that taught me so much about the love and grace of God, and how to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow Him obediently,” she said. “Having received a Christian education, I know that is one of the reasons I am so passionate about providing the same opportunity for the children I serve in ministry today,” she stated.
Julie is most grateful for the years of learning and memorizing the Word at BCS. “Ministry isn’t the easy road that I used to think it was,” she admitted, “but when I feel insufficient, God reminds me through His Word that He is sufficient and has bigger plans than I could dream! I am thankful that these promises, and many others, were fixed in my heart and mind growing up at BCS, so that the Holy Spirit can remind me of them in an instant. What a wonderful gift! I pray that every child in Haven of Hope’s schools can one day say the same about what they have been given through their education.”
To learn more about Haven of Hope’s ministry, click here.