Faith in God WWU Support Sets Stage for Service

December 01, 2009 | Lisa Krueger

Walking out of a coffee shop, Cas Anderson, 18, was drawn to music she heard coming from a nearby building. Discovering that it was an Improv worship service in progress, Anderson hesitated to go in at first, remembering a disappointing church service she had attended at age 15. She was not a church-goer, but this time was different. For the first time, the speaker was saying exactly what she needed to hear.

"I was stunned and surprised, and I almost bolted out of there. But I came back, many times," she says. "It was amazing. I also started attending the Walla Walla University Church with a friend. From the moment I went, I knew it was right," says Anderson.

Karl Haffner, WWU's University Church pastor, who was presenting the service Anderson first attended, would be the first of several WWU people who had a hand in Anderson's spiritual journey.

Anderson's story is just one of the many untold stories about how a Walla Walla University pastor, student, faculty or staff member introduced a young person to God.

She eventually met Todd, a WWU freshman, through some WWU friends she knew from working Dairy Queen. He said he would go to church with her, and soon they also began studying the Bible together. For the first time, with Todd's encouragement, she read the Gospels. Todd, who she would later marry, also encouraged her to attend WWU. Not a possibility, she thought. In high school, she had gotten mostly Cs and Ds. How could she possibly get into college? Despite her poor grades, when she met with the admissions officer, he said, "I don't believe you're not smart. We will support you if you are willing to try."

Anderson says starting classes was terrifying, but by the end of the first term, she had earned Bs in all of her five classes. Her success came from "a combination of support that I had never had before," she says. "If you've never had faith in anything before, and you start believing this huge thing — every single aspect of your life changes. Once you want to live to glorify God, everything from that point changes." She was baptized May 18, 2003, by Karl Haffner. She says, "I celebrate that day every year as my rebirth day."

A capstone to her Christian experience as a university student was mission service in the Philippines and Zimbabwe, a life-changing experience that led to her decision to become a career missionary. "I've had plenty of valleys to forge through and am always amazed when I come out to see that I didn't climb out; I was carried out," Anderson says. "God is so great — we don't even know He's working until we look back and see what He's done."