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Jeff Kolsch's Story: Loving the Poor

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Jeff Kolsch knew he wanted to work in Christian ministry helping the poor, like at a rescue mission. After becoming the director of Donor Relations at the NYC Rescue Mission he found out City Vision University was part of AGRM. He thought it’d be helpful to enroll in order to further his education and continue his work in a field he loves. Like most people who enroll, he was attracted to CVC’s course material on rescue missions. It was affordable, and it was online. He graduated with a B.A. in Missions, Administration, and Operations.

What he learned at CVC gave him “a more rounded knowledge and understanding of how rescue missions operate” including the important components of a recovery program, as well as food and building operations. He is also currently pursuing a Master’s in Nonprofit Administration at North Park University. He would not have been able to enroll at North Park without his recent college work from CVC.

Jeff described his experience at CVC as “enjoyable” and “flexible” and was appreciative of the material the college offered.  “City Vision is an excellent college if you want to go into rescue missions.”

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Angie Estevez's Story: City Vision Degree Gave Her Confidence

Angie Estevez first heard about City Vision’s Bachelor’s degree program as she was finishing up her Associate’s degree. After working 11 years in law enforcement, she wanted new direction in life, but she wasn’t sure what to major in – but she knew she was passionate about urban ministry.  Her ultimate goal was to obtain a Master’s degree, and the online format and cost-effectiveness of City Vision’s program would enable her to receive a Bachelor’s degree at a faster pace.

She is currently in graduate school and on track to obtaining her Master’s degree goal. Angie and her husband also started a nonprofit organization called Casa Shalom, Inc. ( whose mission is “to minister to the individual enduring issues such as addiction, marital problems, brokenness, etc. But we are also helping to equip other churches and ministries with the resources they need to fulfill their visions and their goals.”

When talking about her City Vision University degree, she says, “I feel that the degree gives me the confidence to exercise [what] the Lord has been preparing me to do. I also received firsthand knowledge about the Rescue Missions through the U.S. – not only the plight of the homeless, but also the plight of the missionary who chooses to serve in this field.”

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Thomas Nicholson's Story: Career Changer

Before he was a student at City Vision University, Thomas Nicholson was a journalist. He said, “After 25 years, I was ready to make a career change into faith-oriented work.” So began his research into CVC. “I already had a lot of college credits under my belt, although they did not add up to a Bachelor’s degree. I was looking for a college that would best maximize my existing credits, and CVC’s program fit the bill.” Thomas received a B.S. in Nonprofit Management, and in the future, “envisions founding and leading a ministry organization.”

In September 2012, Thomas will take his work international with a one-year teaching job at a university in China, “an opportunity made possible by the B.S. degree I earned at CVC.” Thomas also reflects, “Completing the program at CVC satisfied what had become a life-long academic pursuit -- to earn a Bachelor's degree. After many years of both full and part-time study, in community colleges, universities, and in the military, completing the degree in Nonprofit Management has made ministerial work a more serious reality for me. I would not be as firmly on that path without my CVC experience.”

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Sharon Lockwood's Story: City Vision Gave Her More Knowledge and Understanding

Before Sharon Lockwood enrolled at City Vision University, she was working as Director at the Central WY Rescue Mission’s Transformation Center, a center for homeless women and children. What attracted her to City Vision was its faith-based foundation, and that, similar to Sharon, many of the instructors had experience working with the homeless and addicts. She says, “Many of [them] had worked at homeless shelters and understood the dynamics involved with working with this particular population. I ultimately believe that true healing, deliverance, and recovery come from the presence of God. Very few colleges could express it through their curriculum without having a personal relationship with Christ, and that is why a Christian-based college was so important to me.”

Sharon’s education at CVC provided her with “a greater knowledge of understanding in the field [she] works in, which has given [her] greater effectiveness with the challenges [she faces] at the homeless shelter.” She enjoyed the distance learning format because of her busy schedule – working full-time and various ministry activities. Sharon says, “It provided flexibility and gave me time to digest what I was learning.”

She found CVC to be very practical, and she was quickly able to apply what she learned in classes to her work at the rescue mission. To current and prospective students, she says, “The reward of faith-based higher education will be beyond your expectations. God will utilize it throughout your life to touch other for eternity.”

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Brian Ostertag's Story: From Homeless to Helper

Brian Ostertag graduated with a B.S. in Addiction Studies from City Vision University (CVC). Not long before, he was homeless and lived near a rescue mission that was a member of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). One morning, he went in for breakfast and the man at the door told him about one of its programs. That night, at a chapel service, an invitation to join the program was announced. He entered the program that night.

For the next 21 months, he participated in the rescue mission’s program. Afterward, he was hired as supervisor for the emergency shelter, then became case manager for the residential treatment program. Brian says, “During this time, I began studying for a psychology degree from a major university. At the same time, I was encouraged to work on my chemical dependency license. [Then] one of the staff told me about City Vision University.”

Fortunately, Brian learned that CVC offered the classes he needed to obtain a chemical dependency license. “Since I was already attending school and working full-time, the online format appealed to me. It offered me the opportunity to manage my classes and make my own schedule. So the ability to manage my time and the offer of classes I needed both appealed to me.”

Brian wants to continue working with people, and he believes the education he received through CVC gives him a “better skills set” and a “higher quality of service to those [he] works with.”

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Kim Thornton's Story: Helping Addicts from the Inside Out

Kim ThorntonKim Thornton enrolled at City Vision University while volunteering for an organization that provided assistance to felons planning to reenter society. She taught them how to dress for success, interview techniques, how to search for jobs, and how to write resumes and cover letters. Kim felt a connection with these men and women after she found out there were “more unsuccessful stories than successful ones.” They dealt with issues of addiction, mental behaviors, and abuse. She pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Addiction Studies at City Vision University so she could begin to “identify issues within individuals and help them from the inside out.”

At City Vision University, two courses impacted her. The first was Family Issues and Recovery, where she learned about “The Miracle Question” which is a question that you ask a client in therapy what they think life would be like once their struggles were gone. Kim loved asking this question because it asked them “to create their own vision of change for themselves, and it focused on the healing that can be experienced in their life.” She enjoyed the second course, Theology and Strategies of Urban Missions, because of the direct contact she had with people in urban cities and the opportunity for her to interview a diverse group of people. She said, “This hands-on experience validated and confirmed that I was truly working where God wanted me to be. It gave me a new understanding of people and how much hurt the urban community deals with.”

Kim is currently an Addictions Counselor and Chaplain at a Salvation Army facility where she counsels, teaches, and provides assistance to clients so they can attend church services and other ministries. She also works in the Emergency Service Department to help clients with the food pantry, utility assistance, and family counseling. In the future, Kim hopes to become a fully certified counselor. She also hopes to provide counseling to people in her church.

City Vision University has helped Kim in her professional goals of becoming an addiction counselor while also learning how to integrate biblical principles into her work. But she finds the most joy out of sharing the love of God with others:  “I can assist a client with developing a program for them, but the most important part of their counseling is telling them about the healer of all, Jesus Christ.”

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Brian Moomey's Story: Restoring Alcoholics to Freedom

Brian MoomeyBased in Missouri, Brian Moomey graduated from City Vision University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Addiction Studies. Currently, he works as an Addiction Counselor at Teen Challenge of the Four States, an organization in Neosho, MO that has a residential program for men who wish to overcome their struggles with drug or alcohol addiction. According to their website, their goal is to see these men “return to their families and communities as productive men prepared to fulfill God’s intended purpose for their lives.” Brian says he has seen God work at Teen Challenge, namely, when men come to Christ and see their families restored, as well as their release from life-controlling addictions.

Brian discovered City Vision University through a web search. He enrolled there because of its Christian perspective on addiction recovery, the cost was very reasonable, and he would be able to obtain a Bachelor’s degree by transferring previous college credit. The one course that’s impacted him the most is Counseling Alcoholics, where he was able to relate with his own struggle with alcohol. He says, “That all changed when I committed my life to Christ. I have lived alcohol-free for over 28 years.”

Brian is now working toward obtaining his Missouri State License in Addiction Recovery. Clearly, he hopes to help others overcome the same addictions he once had, and hopes to apply what he’s learned from City Vision University to real life.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; to update the institution's name]

Bennie Caswell's Story: From Addict to Counselor

Bennie CaswellRaised by a single mother in Detroit and the Bronx, Bennie Caswell had his share of trials. In the early ‘90s he lost his teenage daughter to asthma, and his ex-wife soon after to cancer. This brought him to severe depression and an addiction to cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and prescription drugs. It wasn’t until the late ‘90s did transformation manifest itself. By God’s grace, his addictions subsided and he decided to get an education. He eventually graduated with an AS from a community college, and just recently with a BS from City Vision University.

He decided to enroll at City Vision because he wanted “spiritual emphasis” in serving the poor, knowing that Christ is a crucial aspect to social justice. Caswell originally wanted to be a social worker, but as a former addict himself, when he found out City Vision offered a degree in Addiction Studies, he took advantage of the opportunity.

Caswell graduated from City Vision University in 2009 and was the first person to be handed a BS in Addiction Studies. The courses he took has enabled him to become a Certified Addiction Counselor in the State of New York. For the past 10 years, he’s worked at New York City Rescue Mission—a homeless shelter for the poor, addicts, and alcoholics—where he’s now Evening Supervisor. Caswell is involved with providing food, clothing, and shelter to the Mission’s residents. He’s also in charge of the evening gospel services, counsels guests and residents, and teaches Life Skills and Bible-based 12-step group classes to further their foundation in Christ.

He’s grateful for City Vision’s distance-learning courses and for the range of information he learned. The City Vision courses he finds most impactful are Drugs of Abuse and Counseling in the City. These courses gave him valuable knowledge that enables him to relate to the residents of the Mission. With the addicts, Drugs of Abuse allowed him to understand how different drugs affect them psychologically. And also, because of his own personal experience with drugs, he’s able to give the residents personal insight and genuine sympathy regarding their struggles. Now, as a servant to the people of New York City, the course on urban counseling was perfect and practical. It taught him what counseling looks like through a secular and, more importantly, spiritual lens.

God took the bad in his life and made it good—with his education from City Vision and the work he does now for the homeless and addicts, he expresses great gratitude to be involved in the life-changing process. With a mixture of humility and awe in his voice, Caswell says, “It’s amazing how God uses his people to be role models, advisors, and shoulders to lean on for those who need it.”

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Shawna Fitz's Story: Grateful for City Vision' Real-Life Experiences

Shawna’s Story: Grateful for City Vision’s Real-Life ExperiencesShawna Fitz received a Certificate in Missions from City Vision University and graduated in 2009. Originally in the Addiction Studies program, she switched to Missions because it conveyed what she wanted to do - charitable work with Christ at the center.

What she loves most about City Vision is the internship requirement. Not only do they provide the knowledge students need to be effective in urban ministry, but they give you the chance to serve people in various organizations and ministries in the US and Canada.

Fitz says, “What I learned at City Vision was right on point with what I did at Souls Harbour Rescue Mission.” Souls Harbour is located in Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada) and provides struggling men, women, and families with shelter, food, and clothing. In addition, they have support programs and provide opportunities to introduce the Gospel to the residents.

She recently completed her internship at Souls Harbour this past January where she was the Shelter Shepherd/Caretaker of Harbour House, which provides low-income housing, an emergency homeless shelter, and a recovery program for women. Approximately 85% of the women who come here are running from domestic abuse, and 80% have drug issues. Fitz says, “We get a lot of prostitutes, addicts, and women without homes, so we give them a room to stay in. They become part of your family. I don’t see anybody who goes through what they go through the same anymore. It’s taught me to drop my barriers and to just see them as real people.”

At Souls Harbour she saw real transformation take place in the lives of those she served. She witnessed Mission’s residents come to Christ and their addictions and bondages broken—for Fitz to see former addicts genuinely experience God and his power to heal was “humbling and amazing.” Through it all she drew closer to God, becoming more aware of what he can do for people despite the depth of sin or struggle.

Fitz, now in Kansas, works at the Department of Commerce where she finds resources for people looking for housing or jobs, and conducts adult workshops to improve their skills. A City Vision course that prepared her for this is Life Skills Training, a class that teaches students how to equip disadvantaged adults in areas of “literacy, employment, readiness, and financial management.” 
At night, she is involved in street ministry where she talks to local residents about Jesus, listens to their stories, prays for them, and counsels them. To expand her work in urban ministry, she says, “I’d like to provide a place for people to know Christ more—such as a home church—so they would have somewhere to go.” And with the help of City Vision’s Ministry Management course, Fitz is in the process of establishing her own nonprofit that places missionaries in orphanages in Uganda.

It’s clear she has a servant’s heart, driven to serve and provide care for others at her own expense. She’s grateful for the opportunities and resources City Vision has given her—it gave her direction in what steps to take in following God in urban ministry.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

Sarah Park's Story: Transformed by Urban Ministry

sarahpark.JPGSarah Park graduated from City Vision University in 2010 with a degree in Addiction Studies. The knowledge and experience she gained from City Vision applies to her work today at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, located in Boston, MA where she's currently a Case Manager. Many of the hospital's patients are from under-served populations, especially the homeless and drug addicts.

It wasn't until her enrollment at City Vision did she realize that not only is her workplace her mission field, but also Boston, the city where God has placed her. City Vision also taught her the importance the local church has on the community. "The local church must be involved in urban ministry," she said. Thus, she prayed for her church and for its members - that their hearts would become more compassionate.

Amazingly and not long after, its members expressed interest in the homeless ministry. The homeless ministry is currently very active and volunteers their time to serve the residents of the Boston Rescue Mission. They would minister to the homeless by providing breakfast, share the gospel, and pray for them individually. Sarah is amazed and humbled by the transformation of her church members, and she praises God for the work He is doing.

The courses at City Vision University have helped her become more understanding and compassionate toward everyone around her: her husband, her co-workers, and even strangers. She found them very practical, especially in areas of counseling. One course which she especially enjoyed was Recovery Dynamics, where she learned about The Life Model. This model gave her a new paradigm that was focused on Jesus.

Through City Vision, Sarah realized she was in the right spot for urban ministry. She sees her position in this world - whether in her job, church, or volunteer efforts—as transformative and as a way of life. There is purpose in all she does, now with added compassion for the Kingdom. She speaks with joy and thankfulness for what God has done for her. Thanks to City Vision's practicality and Christ-centered approach to urban ministry, Sarah lives with a renewed vision to bring hope to under-served populations as Jesus' servant.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated the institution's name]

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