Northwest Mission Institute Celebrates First Graduates
The first graduation ceremony of the Northwest Mission Institute (NMI) was full of rich, heartfelt stories of how God is leading in each graduate's life. There was plenty of laughter and even a few tears at the Kennewick (Wash.) Church on Sept. 7 as the group reviewed the memories they had made in just a few, short months together. Lives were changed, and the students left with a new vigor for life and evangelism.
When one student, Ross Brower, was asked to describe his NMI experience in a single word, he chose "immersed" because "there is nothing like being immersed in the Lord's work like we are. It was amazing. [I] don't ever want to quit."
Joe Harris described his experience as "transforming." Harris came to NMI looking to be "brought further" and indeed was.
Commencement speaker Gordon Pifher, North Pacific Union Conference innovation, leadership and stewardship director, likened the graduating class to the the first disciples shortly after Jesus had ascended to heaven. The disciples didn't have a clue of the degree to which Christ planned to use them to reach the world. Pifher reminded the audience of God's regard for those early disciples with their varying talents, education backgrounds and social statuses, and of His plans for these graduates too — "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11, NKJV).
As the ceremony's grand finale, a candlelighting service represented the work the students have ahead of them. A main candle represented the Light of the World, from which the students lit their candles and took them into an audience waiting with unlit candles. The students lit those candles closest to the aisle, and then it was up to the audience to light each other's candles. Similarly, NMI is shaping Bible worker coordinators to enter churches and train lay members to go and make disciples. With such an army of workers rightly trained, how soon the message of a crucified, risen and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world, as Ellen White points out (Education, p. 271). Already many of the graduates are filling Bible worker coordinator positions in the Upper Columbia Conference.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning to sharpen their faith-sharing skills and leading their church to do the same, or to read more stories about the graduates, visit NMI online at missioninstitute.org.