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Due to the sensitivity of the country were Jerry serves, we are not portraying his picture and disclosing his last name.
“There were two MEs; one I had created through my selfish desires and goals and the other ME, which God created me to be. My goal became to see the ME I had created decrease, and the ME God created, increase. That’s what sanctification is.”
Jerry grew up in the DC area. He had attended church and had a nodding acquaintance with God, but no knowledge of the Gospel or what it means to serve God. At age 17 he joined the US Navy to get away and see the world. With no church, no faith and no God, Jerry drifted.
When he was 21 his 14 year old sister died of cancer. “How can a loving God allow this?” At his sister’s funeral, in bitterness and confusion, Jerry decided there was no God. He reasoned that since there was no God he could live any way he wanted to. He was free to indulge in drunkenness, drugs and whatever temptation he had. Before long his freedom turned to bondage. Addictions took control of his life.
While Jerry spiraled downward, his parents had recommitted their lives to the Lord and were involved in a Bible believing church. A man in that church had been through Teen Challenge and recommended it to them for Jerry. With his help Jerry enrolled in the program.
At Teen Challenge, as he was reading the Scripture, Jerry discovered a life-changing truth in Deuteronomy. (He says, “I’m probably the only person ever to get saved from the book of Deuteronomy.”) Deut. 14:2 says, “…you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”
These words to Israel spoke personally to Jerry. He was amazed to realize that “even while living in sin, I’d been his treasured possession.” Right then he told God, “I want to spend the rest of my life telling people they are his treasured possessions.”
A New Life
God broke the 10-year chains of drugs and alcohol and gave Jerry new life and purpose. He quickly and firmly dismisses the concept that for God to choose us we must be perfect. God’s business is transforming lives. He admits it doesn’t happen overnight. He says, “It’s about us increasingly surrendering to the will of God in our lives. We surrender and God does the changing, transforming us into his image.”
After graduating from Teen Challenge in 2004, Jerry met Paula Mickley, missionary to Zambia. They were married in 2005 and Jerry completed his studies at Central Bible College in 2007. That same year Jerry and Paula went to Zambia as fully appointed missionaries with the Assemblies of God World Missions.
Pastoral training and community projects kept Jerry busy. He rejoiced in every ministry opportunity. On a personal level he and Paula planned with excitement for the birth of their first child. No storm warnings prepared them for the day Baby Josiah was born. Nothing indicated he was at risk. In spite of a healthy, full-term pregnancy, for no apparent reason Baby Josiah was stillborn. Was it painful? Of course! Did God ever explain why? No. He is not obligated to explain what we are not capable of understanding. However, God was not silent. His truth spoke to them, “I made everything. I am in control.” Jerry says, “God redeems our pain. That’s better than an answer. Storms come but they do not change God’s plans for our lives.”
Jerry experienced a passion to understand all he could about the Bible and for studying and teaching theology. He wanted to go on to graduate studies, but that goal looked unattainable. When the General Superintendent of the AG in Zambia said he was planning to attend a theological training seminar in neighboring Malawi, Jerry felt God was saying, “I want you to go with him.” Every circumstance shouted, “Impossible!” A friend encouraged him, “Trust what God has said to you and wait God’s time.”
The Global University Connection
God’s time came for Jerry in 2008 and he began his graduate studies through Global University at the All Nations Theological Seminary in Malawi. He graduated from Global University in 2010 with an MA in Intercultural Studies.
Through studies and experience Jerry has discovered some vital insights regarding continuing education for those contemplating ministry:
Serving in Zambia, Jerry has seen first-hand the impact of Global University working in and with Bible Schools to equip a new generation of trained leaders. Presently the Zambian Superintendent is the only AG minister with an accredited Master’s degree. Resources through GU will change that picture.
After one term in Zambia and a year of deputation services in the US, Jerry and Paula and their precious little girl, a gift from God, will return to Africa for a second term. Their goal is to “impact eternity by winning the lost and training the found…everywhere.”
We are glad to honor Jerry as a GU alumnus and God’s “treasured possession.”
By Carolyn Hittenberger, University Communications