At the foot of the Blue Mountains, surrounded by fields of wheat and unions, it would be difficult to go to Walla Walla University by accident. Many students feel pressure when choosing where to pursue higher education. Sometimes, however, the simplest gestures or the grandest miracles can show God’s calling in our lives.
Meet Jonathon Joseph who felt called to Walla Walla University to attain Adventist higher education and be a soldier for God.
Jonathan Joseph had just completed high school when the terrorist attacks of 9/11 shook the United States. Passionate about serving his country, he joined the army instead of heading to college. “I wanted to help,” said Joseph. “I was committed to making a difference.” In 2003, he was deployed to Iraq where he served in the airborne infantry.
After he completed his service, returning to civilian life and school came as a shock and Joseph struggled with homelessness and alcoholism. A spiritual encounter or a Damascus road moment as he described it, began Joseph’s journey to Walla Walla University. He said, “Those things played a huge role in leading me to Christ and the university. I reached my lowest point before my spiritual encounter and new direction.”
Through individual Bible study, his life was transformed. He learned about many Adventist values from his study. Providentially, he was led to Emerald City Community Seventh-day Adventist Church in Seattle, Washington, and the guidance of Eugene Lewis, the church pastor. Joseph told Lewis about his experience and Lewis encouraged him to get a degree so that he could follow his passion to help the church.
The mixture of God’s direction and Lewis’ guidance brought Joseph and his family to the WWU campus. Joseph, now a sophomore theology major, said regarding this decision, “I was very brave when I was younger, like with joining the military and all of that, but it was terrifying coming here, just making the decision to get the family together and move.”
The journey hasn’t been easy, but Joseph explained that he finds peace through surrender to God’s calling. “If I could go back to before I started school at WWU and tell myself one thing, I would say ‘believe, just get through the doubt.’”
The decision to further his education and be part of the campus has been an exciting one. Joseph finds a sense of belonging in his classes and in conversations with his professors. “After being out of school for so long, it is a little surprising how well I’m doing in the class, but that is because of God’s grace,” said Joseph.
He said, “I loved being a soldier and it’s that same passion and commitment that drives me now, but I’m a soldier for God now.”
Posted on January 6, 2022