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by Carolyn Hittenberger
“If I can do it, so can you!” So says Brett VanderMolen, who with his wife Susan serves as an Assemblies of God missionary in Cambodia. Brett is a third generation carpenter. He was raised in a Christian home, in a family known and respected in the community. He married his high school sweetheart and with an established family business, his future seemed to be clearly marked for him, following the good VanderMolen model.
Recognition of the Call
In March of 1985, one year after he married Susan, they stood together and accepted Christ in a Full Gospel Businessmen’s Meeting. Brett also received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that night, and Susan shortly thereafter. Brett says, “After God revealed His truth to our hearts there was a hunger to go deeper with Him.” They began attending Calvary Assembly of God in DeMotte, IN, where Rev. James Clark was pastor. 1988 began an exciting period of spiritual growth. They moved to Michigan where they actively served in the church they attended. More and more they recognized that God was calling them to full-time ministry.
Confirmation of the Call
In 1994 they went on a short term basis, to work with an AG missionary in the Philippines. After moving back to DeMotte and to Calvary Assembly in 1997, five more missions trips ensued. The concept of full-time missions ministry began to change their perspective on the future. Brett admits, “To be truthful it began the night we gave our lives over to the Lord. Years of waiting and growing, dreams and visions we both were having and these missions trips were helping us bring into focus what God wanted to do through us.” From the path of the familiar and expected, Brett and Susan stepped by faith in a direction that was unusual and unknown.
Determination in the Call
They understood that for endorsement and accountability, becoming part of a strong sending organization was imperative. After contacting Assemblies of God World Missions, they faced the challenge of fulfilling the prerequisites. In order to become an appointed Assemblies of God missionary, one must first become a credentialed minister. Brett recognized that this would mean Christian Education at a level higher than he felt he could handle. Even as a child he’d felt intimidated by kids he deemed “smarter” than himself. He says of his early education, “…my only A+ was my blood type!” He wondered if he would be able to succeed in the needed studies. To further complicate the issue, Brett knew he could not attend a residence school while working full-time to provide for his family. They have four children, all of them teen agers at that time. He needed flexible hours rather than a specific classroom schedule. The next hurdle was the cost of tuition and textbooks. They would have to be debt free before going to the mission field.
Preparation for the Call
Pastor Clark, who still pastors Calvary AG, counseled Brett to consider Global University. GU offers flexible distance learning and economical tuition and texts. Through Berean School of the Bible, part of Global University, one can study designated courses that lead to ministerial credentials. It was a perfect fit. Brett and Susan had begun steps toward becoming Missionary Associates in Cambodia. While completing that process, he studied in earnest. Sometimes he struggled but dealt with it day by day, even using the courses in his personal devotions. He says some courses, such as The Book of Acts and courses on preaching and teaching just leaped out at him. He was stretched and grew with each course. Studying the history and foundation of the Assemblies of God made him grateful to be part of the organization. His first year of study was online, as he was still living in the US. When they were ready to go to Cambodia as Missionary Associates, where he had limited Internet access, Global University sent his textbooks to him, though he was half way around the world. There in Cambodia, fellow missionary Anne Greve mentored and encouraged Brett to persevere in his studies, though he was in language study and busy in ministry.
Realization of the Call
He completed all of the requirements for ministerial license, qualifying him to become a fully Appointed AGWM Missionary in the area of Compassion Ministry. Presently serving in Cambodia, their primary responsibility is ministering to children in an Assemblies of God Children’s Home and in the School of Hope with 370 students from preschool to 12th grade. Was it worth the struggle? The time spent in study? The sacrifices? They would answer a resounding “YES.” God’s call still rings clearly in their hearts and they rejoice in doing what God has called them to do. Their commitment to God’s call has impacted their children’s lives, as well. Aaron, 24, is an AG pastor, Adam, 22, is a Missionary Associate in Cambodia. Bethany, 20, is preparing to be a teacher and Emily, 17, plans to study for missionary service. Brett expresses thanks to Global University for the quality instruction they offer and for enabling him to fulfill the educational requirements for ministry. He says, “The studies caused me to get into the Word.” He asserts that he grew in the Lord as he studied. As a final word of encouragement for our readers, Brett writes, “If God calls, He will equip you. GU will help with that. Stay faithful to what God puts in your hands to do…and don’t quit.” .