“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Riley: Since January of this year, my wife and I have had the great privilege and pleasure of sharing the gospel and our lives with students at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. In the fall of 2017, a couple of months before we entered the full-time ministry, we were asked to help lead worship and teach a class at a campus retreat in Spokane. As Elise (my wife) is an alumnus from WWU, her heart has long been tied to the ministry there. Knowing that the Western campus students (of which there were three at the time) would be coming through Seattle on their way to Spokane, she suggested that we carpool with them to the retreat. Although we didn’t know those guys that well at the time, we had a blast spending time with them during the long car ride as well as throughout the weekend. As all spiritual retreats should be, it was a time full of fun, laughter, and refreshment! That being said, by their admittance, back in the day-to-day their ministry was in the middle of a hard time. Many had left the church or walked away from their faith entirely over the past year, leaving these remaining students filled with hurt and longing for revival. By the generosity of the Seattle church who financially supported us and the power of God’s Spirit, Elise and I were able to jump in and help as campus leaders. Feeling Paul’s sentiment in 1 Corinthians 3:7 where he says, “Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow,” we have certainly witnessed God making things grow here in Bellingham in the year of 2018. Elise: During our first day reaching out on campus we met a freshman named Christy. She seemed shy when we met her, but she ended up joining us as the only visitor at our first Bible talk. Three months later she made the decision to make Jesus Lord of her life and plunged into the freezing Bellingham Bay waters. Her roommate Cheyenne also studied the Bible and got baptized only a month after Christy. Not long after, when the school year had nearly finished, our dear friend Selena got baptized at our annual camping trip on Memorial Day weekend! We couldn’t believe that in just four short months God has doubled our ministry – but he certainly wasn’t done working yet! Throughout this period, we devoted ourselves to fasting and prayer, asking God to add to our number a strong young man with deep convictions and a true love for the Lord. Our prayer remained unfulfilled throughout the first two quarters of our being there, which at times left us feeling discouraged. But God has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need when you least expect it. On our last day reaching out before the Spring quarter ended, we ran into a sophomore named Brandon. He happened to be staying in Bellingham for the Summer and started doing Bible studies with Riley. It didn’t take long for him to become one of our dearest friends. Brandon decided to make Jesus Lord of his life a couple of weeks before the start of Fall quarter on September 1st. God had answered our prayers! God then went on to surpass our prayers when that same month a wonderful girl named Madi placed membership with us and three additional disciples from Seattle and Texas moved into town to attend Western (one freshman and two transfer students).

Earlier this month we attended our second campus Fall retreat in Spokane. This of course led us to reflect on how much had happened over the past year. As we said earlier, in 2017 we came with only three disciples from Bellingham, but by the grace of God we came this year with eight disciples and three visitors who were deep into their Bible studies! Moreover, this past week one of these visitors named Kayla finished her studies, and on November 25th she became our sister in Christ! Riley: While we have had much to celebrate this year, this process has taken a great deal of hard work and perseverance through challenges and disappointments. That being said, we wouldn’t have it any other way! Having been able to witness all of this unfold, we can confidently profess God’s great power and his immense love for saved as well as the lost in city of Bellingham! We pray each of you who read this story will be encouraged and inspired to continue in faith – bearing much fruit in your own spheres of influence. May God’s grace, peace, and love be with you all!