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Student Story

Tony Chung, City Vision University's First Intern

From Nebraska Bible College Student to Executive Director

How did you get involved with City Vision University and Rescue Mission work?
I started with City Vision University before there even was a “Rescue College" [the school's original name]. Rescue College wasn’t on the internet, it was 1991, and I’m not even sure we had fax machines back then!  Rescue College was in the form of correspondence courses accredited through Grace College of the Bible (now Grace University) in Omaha, NE.  I was going to school there and working part-time as an evening chaplain at the Open Door Mission which was then under the direction of the late Rev. Bob Timberlake.  It was partly through Pastor Bob’s influence and my need to declare a major that I decided I would do my third year as an internship with a Rescue Mission.  I went to Union Gospel Mission in Seattle because it had a reputation of being a “cutting edge” rescue mission at the time.  Oh, and I almost forgot my wife, Donna.  She was a big influence, too.  She worked for Pastor Bob in the rescue mission in Buffalo, NY during the 1980’s and moved to Omaha and worked at Open Door as a volunteer.  I probably wouldn’t have continued in this work without her.

What was your experience as City Vision University Intern like?

One memorable event was my first day when I met Rev. Herb Pfiffner, the Executive Director of UGM.  It was Saturday and I was impressed that he spent the whole day with me telling me about different aspects of the ministry.  Over my time there, I had an opportunity to work a little bit in a few different departments.  I spent some time at the Men’s Program.   John Frank, who was then Development Director, allowed me to attend some of the development meetings during their Capital Campaign.  I also spent a little time at the Women & Family shelter---but not much.  Most of my time was spent working in the Youth Department, which was kind of funny, because I was 35 at the time and I was a little bit older than the kids in the program.

So in 1992, you graduated from Grace College of the Bible with a BS in Bible — where did you go from there?

It really took me at least 4 years before I knew I wanted to be in leadership and become an executive director.  In the beginning, my heart was really to be a chaplain.  My ministry path went something like this after graduating from Grace College:  I worked for Ron Willoughby in the Springfield Rescue Mission in Massachusetts, then back to Seattle and worked under Mike Teague and Jack Martin.  While in Seattle in 1997, I received a Master’s in Business Administration because I thought God might be calling me to be an executive director.  My heart was always in the chaplaincy, but I could see that leadership positions gave you the ability to enhance programs that could really help people.  I was then offered a position as Executive Director at the Boise Rescue Mission in Boise, Idaho and stayed there for 5 ½ years.  I did a brief stint at the Open Door Mission in Omaha and I’m now Executive Director of the Highway 80 Rescue Mission of Longview, TX.

How has Hiway 80 grown since you’ve been there?

I’ve been here for almost 5 years.  This is a small rescue mission, in a city with a population of 85,000 but we house about 3 times the men we did at the beginning and 10 times the women and children.  Our annual budget has increased from $250,000 to $1 million.  We are now working on a capital campaign to build new facilities.

What do you think was the most helpful thing about City Vision University for you?

I see it as an introduction to all of the various areas encompassed by Rescue ministry.  It was most helpful to me to “try out” different areas of ministry and to determine my calling.  In reality, it took a little time to really determine where I belonged, but I couldn’t have done that without the initial City Vision University experience.

What tips do you have for current students taking City Vision University courses?

Well, of course, I was highly motivated to learn.  I would say, ‘Take the courses, experience the different areas of ministry and find out where you have an interest and a gift.’  You also might find out where you have strengths and where you have weaknesses.  Our mission has a staff person who is going through City Vision University right now, and that’s what I tell him.  Also, City Vision University is accredited, so the credits transfer if you go on for further education.

What about staff people who say they don’t have time or they’re getting too old to take college courses?

City Vision University gives you the opportunity to stretch yourself, plus there is built-in accountability measures within the classes.  I finished my Bachelors at 36 and my Masters at 42; so if I can do it, they can do it, too.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

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

Jan Lagan: Building a New Mission on City Vision University Principles

When did you graduate? 

I graduated from City Vision University in 2006, with a one-year certificate.

How did you get interested in Rescue Ministry?

We live in an area, 60 miles southwest of Little Rock, AK, with a population of about 90,000.  It’s an area, almost county-wide, that has a lot of unemployed, working poor, and many men living in Single Occupancy Rooms renting by the week.  There are a lot of resources in the community to help the poor: churches and organizations, but the help isn’t coordinated very well, and there are no shelters, at all.

While I was the business manager with my church, First Assembly of God, my husband and I began to be interested in doing more for the poor and homeless in our community.  We knew of Haven of Rest Ministries in Akron, Ohio, and knew they could be a model for us to follow.  As a result, we flew to Akron with another couple to visit with Ben Walker and Rev. Curt Thomas.  They spent an entire day with us describing all of their programs and giving us a tour of their facilities.  But, looking at an established ministry of 60 years or more is different from knowing how to start one.

How did you get started with the ministry in Hot Springs?

We began by holding community meetings for those people who wanted to begin a rescue mission.  Out of that, we created our first board of directors, and shortly after, put together our by-laws and constitution for the ministry in 2004.  My husband, Chuck and I are co-founders of Samaritan Ministries.  I am now a full-time volunteer as executive director and Chuck works an outside job. 

What’s happening right now with Samaritan Ministries?

We are in the process of renovating 7,500 square foot building, a former warehouse.  It was an ugly, green, metal building that we purchased at a bargain.  Now it’s looking so good that some of the businesses nearby think they have to remodel their buildings to keep up with us! 

We started renovating the building in 2006 and have continued as funds have become available.  We have been blessed with an architect for a son, donated labor and many donated materials for the project.  We hope to open in July of this year and house 24 men overnight and 12 men in a long-term program.  During the renovation, we have continued to hold meals for the needy during all of the major holidays in the community:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  The last two meals have been in our building:  The first time we didn’t have electricity but brought in generators. This Easter, we had electricity, but no water.  The day after Easter, I have a mess of dirty dishes in my kitchen.  I said to Chuck, “Is it easier to clean it up or just burn our house down?”

How has City Vision University been helpful in starting a new ministry?

City Vision University has given me some training and knowledge of many aspects of rescue ministry.  It also gives me the ‘credibility factor’ in the community to say that I have this training.  Truthfully, some of the information from these courses will only be meaningful as we become a little more established.  However, I had the motivation and the “want to” to take these courses.  I wanted to make the best choices I could from the outset in establishment of the mission so I was hungry for any and all information.

Can you tell us about the unique challenges of a start-up ministry in relationship to City Vision University?

I did face some unique challenges in taking City Vision University courses that examined, for example, accounting practices or fundraising aspects of ministry; when I didn’t have, yet, an operational ministry.  I had to meet with other established ministries to complete many of my assignments, but the City Vision University instructors were always supportive and helpful.  The Administration Course taught by Perry Jones was one of the most helpful courses I took.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated institution's name]

Debbie Doland, 2005 City Vision Grad

Union Gospel Mission, Salem, Oregon

Before Debbie Doland joined [the mission's] staff, her mission experience was limited to occasional volunteering. Even though she was at an extraordinarily difficult point in her life—raising two boys who had recently lost their dad—her steadfast pursiut of Christ and commitment to stay at His side was an inspiration.

As she became involved in helping set up [UGM's] Family Closet—a clothing, furniture and household ministry to troubled families—she wanted to equip herself to better serve the needy and the mission. After discussions with key staff, [her supervisor] was confident in recommending her for enrollment.

Once into City Vision University, she was diligent in her studies though she was also a full-time mom and employee. When an accident led to major surgery and a long period of recuperation, it seemed she might not be able to finish in time to graduate. But with prayer and diligence she completed her courses and graduated at the AGRM convention in Cleveland. Her teenage sons were also there to witness the fruit of their mom's courageous effort.

She says City Vision University helped her realize how God accomplishes amazing things when people use their gifts to serve Him.

Debbie now manages the Family Closet Ministry and is a vital staff member in the UGM's development department.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

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

Dale Hartman: From Prison to Mission Chaplain

Chaplain, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, Philadelphia, PA

In December of 1990, I came to the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake in Utah. I been out of prison for about 6 months at this time. I was in prison for grand theft because I was supporting a drug habit, I had been homeless at times even before I had entered the mission in Salt Lake. While at the mission in Salt Lake I heard about the Spiritual Training Program and decided to see if I could get on it mainly because it was cold out side. After being there for about a week and hearing the Gospel I turned my life over to Christ.

After completing the program I felt the Lord leading to stay and help in the mission. I was given the position of House Manager. During my time as House Manager I felt the leading to learn more about the Bible and a desire to share in the evening Chapel Service. With the help of the Director and others I was able to do Bible Study through correspondence with Trinity Bible College. After a year and much study I was given the position of Assistant Director. During my time as Assistant Director I continued my studies and with help from others learned more about the ministry of Rescue.

I remained in the mission of Salt Lake until 1999 until I felt the leading to learn other aspects of the ministry and accepted a position at The City Mission in Cleveland, Ohio as a Chaplain and Supervisor of Transitional Housing & Family Shelter. During my time in Cleveland I was able to take more classes in counseling, recovery and other aspects of ministry and was given the opportunity to take the Rescue College [now City Vision University] courses offered by the AGRM. These courses were very beneficial as they gave me insight on all that goes on the operation of a Rescue Mission. I remained in Cleveland for 4 years and am now a Chaplain at The Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission in Philadelphia, PA.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

[Edited May 2015; updated institution's name]

Allen Pickett: God Opens Doors Through City Vision Education

Office Manager, Kansas City Rescue Mission

Though I had accepted Christ when I was a teenager, it was not until my mid-twenties that Christ became real to me and I began a serious effort to follow Christ. My Christian walk led me to Holmeswood Baptist Church where I soon became very involved in several different areas of ministry. The area that gave me the most satisfaction was in the Missions area. I discovered I enjoyed working with ministries that helped the poor and needy. During the summer of 2002, I traveled to Waco, Texas to serve as a youth sponsor as part of a mission trip that involved a poverty simulation and working 5 days at a Rescue Mission. During this week, I felt God's calling to a higher level of involvement in Rescue Ministry. When I returned home from Waco, I began to investigate what steps I could take to prepare myself for a career in Rescue Ministry.

During my research I found City Vision University on the internet and enrolled. One of the requirements of attending City Vision University [at that time] was that I serve an internship at an AGRM Rescue Mission. I was able to set up my internship at Kansas City Rescue Mission. A few weeks into my internship, I was made aware of an opening at KCRM for an Office Manager. I began to pray about whether I should pursue the position. I believe that God was providing a way for me to get into Rescue Ministry while I complete my education at City Vision University, so I applied for the position and was hired. The Office Manager position at KCRM requires that I work with all the different ministries of the Mission and has provided many learning opportunities for me. I think the City Vision University courses are challenging, but I am really enjoying them and am learning a lot.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

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

Linda Lacy, 2002 City Vision Grad

Union Gospel Mission, Salem, Oregon

Linda Lacy was once homeless with four children. After gaining stability, she was compelled to help other women face the challenges she once knew. She found City Vision University on the Internet and began to seek a qualified urban ministry that was willing to "allow her to intern"; that's how she came to Salem Union Gospel Mission.

Imagine, a single mother familiar with the hardships of homelessness who was willing to pick up and move her children to another city to pursue a degree. What began as a decision to help a young mother earn a degree became an incredible journey through which the Lord has now touched countless women and children.

After graduation, Linda joined the staff at Simonka Place, the UGM women's ministry. Over the years she developed case management and life-skills tools. Whether in time management, money discipline or preparing for a career, those exposed to the hope of Christ with Linda's guidance are given tools for a better life and encouraged in responsible living.

This testimonial was given in 2012.

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

Michelle Porter: Running a Mission with City Vision Graduates

Associate Director, Regina SK RESCUE Mission, 2012

I guess you could say that my view of City Vision University is biased, having been  the first person to ever receive a Bachelor in Rescue Ministries.  However, City Vision University has more than proved it's effectiveness by playing a key part  in the founding of Regina RESCUE Mission.  In less than four years, it has allowed our expansion mission to grow to a budget of nearly $400,000!

City Vision University has allowed us to be blessed by young Bible College graduates with a heart for missions, who commit to spending one year to exercise their gifts and talents in the inner city.  Some answer the call to full-time city missions and have been a great source of staff, having been trained from the ground up!

We currently have five full-time employees who have completed City Vision University, and three others who have registered for individual classes.  I am excited about our latest student, Larry, who came up through our one-year LifeChange Recovery Program, was hired as a night watchman, and is now, after a total of 18 months, a full-time City Vision University intern.

The staff and interns possess a youthful energy and enthusiasm, combined with a thorough understanding of the overall picture of the ministry.  Without the training of key staff through City Vision University, Regina RESCUE Mission would not be where it is today.


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

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