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Volume 49 • Issue 2/2 • Fall 2016


Impacting is what


President Dr. Steve Hostetter

Dean of the College Dr. Steven Ware

Vice President for Advancement Joan Berntson

Major transitions in our lives are opportune times for reflection.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Michael Rasch

Dean of Student Life Brad DeJager

Camp Oak Hills Director Scott Buchan

Center for Indian Ministries Director Paul Straubel

Director of Church and Ministry Relations Jim Hodgson


Volume 49 • Issue 2/2 • Fall 2016 Editor Mitch Berntson - Consultant

Layout and Design Brent Johnson - Consultant


1600 Oak Hills Road SW Bemidji, Minnesota 56601 • 218.751.8670

Oak Hills is located along the shores of Lake Marquette in northern Minnesota. For nine decades, the staff of Oak Hills has helped people pursue Christian maturity by teaching the truth from God’s Word that changes lives. Today they achieve this through three focused ministries:

Oak Hills Christian College focuses on biblical higher education. Students may choose from nine bachelor’s degrees, five associate degrees, and a one-year Bible certificate. Online includes two bachelor’s degrees and two associate degrees. Camp Oak Hills offers a quality, Christian camp experience for youth, while pursuing a vision for year-round ministry to families and adults.

Center for Indian Ministries reaches out to the Native American community to bring them the hope of Jesus Christ. The Mokahum Ministry Center provides culturally relevant Bible training for our Native American brothers and sisters.

Dr. Steve Hostetter

President, Oak Hills Christian College

As many of you know, as of December 31, 2016, I will be closing this chapter of my ministry with Oak Hills.

My wife and I will be moving to Honolulu, HI in February 2017 where I’ve accepted the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs at Pacific Rim Christian University. I am confident that this is the right time to pass the baton onto the next servant of God who will guide Oak Hills into its next chapter.

As I reflect on the past 11+ years of service at Oak Hills, a multitude of thoughts and emotions flood my soul. God has led us through hardships, challenges, joys, mistakes, blessings, losses, progress, hopes, discouragements and delights. Through it all, God has been faithful.

A few weeks ago a recent graduate sent me this note:

Thank you so very much for the many years you have dedicated to Oak Hills. I am so grateful to have been a student at Oak Hills during 5 of those years. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for Oak Hills and the strong impact all the faculty and staff have made in my life! Blessings to you as you finish out your time at Oak Hills this semester and begin your next chapter in the New Year!

We will miss Bemidji and the work, but most importantly, we will miss the people we’ve come to know and love. We eagerly anticipate hearing about God’s continued good work in and through Oak Hills as the next President engages with the ministry.

Serving with Oak Hills has been a grand adventure and a rich blessing for both my wife and I. May God grant us all the grace and strength to serve Him faithfully until the end of our days where we all will be united with Him in glory. It won’t be long! Hence, keep pressing on!

g lives it’s all about!

Transitions are often times of loss and hope.

I am feeling both, as Steve leaves Oak Hills and as I step into the role of interim president. Dr. Steven Ware

Future Interim President

My first feeling upon hearing that Steve is headed to Honolulu was sadness. Steve and I came to Oak Hills at about the same time.

I am so blessed to have worked closely with him through all of these years. Steve is a man of discipline and prayer. Under his leadership, the fellowship has weathered storms and moved positively into the future. His wisdom and kindness have benefited the ministries of Oak Hills, but they have also benefited me personally. It is indeed with sadness and deep gratitude that I say goodbye to a mentor and friend.

Despite that sadness, this is an exciting time at the college, and I am filled with immense hope. We met our enrollment goals, and the new residence hall is on schedule to be occupied in January. Best of all, we see student transformation every day. My goal in the months ahead is to build on the positive momentum made in the last years. I will be working closely with the board and with staff to continue to advance the mission of Oak Hills, seeking God’s wisdom through the Holy Spirit as we pursue creative and effective ways to serve Him in an ever-changing world. Dr. Steven Ware joined Oak Hills in 2005 as an adjunct instructor. He was named Dean of Education in 2009 and Dean of the College in 2012. He is an ordained pastor in the Free Methodist Church USA and was a bi-vocational senior pastor for seven years. He earned his doctorate in education from Seattle Pacific University and holds degrees from Northeastern State University of Oklahoma and from the University of Washington. He and his wife, Nola, have been married for 29 years, and they have three sons. They currently attend the Calvary Evangelical Free Church in Walker.

College Life

Sixty Minutes Hundreds of Conversations

One amazing moment when God’s calling is discerned in the hearts and minds of every student on campus. by Jim Murphy ’96 Associate Pastor - Next Generation Ministries Evangelical Covenant Church of Bemidji, MN

It’s the annual Oak Hills Outreach Fair,

and I had the joy of participating in my 11th fair representing the Covenant Church of Bemidji. Each student is required to serve in a volunteer role somewhere in the community. This is the hour that churches, community ministries, and other organizations come onto campus to help students find that role.

As I look over the list of twenty names of new students who are interested in possibly serving with our church’s ministries as volunteers or interns, I’m reminded of what an honor it is to be part of the formation of their life in ministry. Hidden in these names are thousands of others who will experience the life changing message of the gospel because these twenty have said “yes” to God’s call to ministry.

Our church really values its partnership with Oak Hills as we reach and raise the next generation in Christ. The education that Oak Hills provides is vital to their understanding of who God is, how He works in their lives, and the role they play in the lives of others. Their hearts and minds are shaped by their study of scriptures. Their ability to think and interpret not only the Bible but also life and culture are deeply influenced by their professors. Their spiritual health is forever conditioned by the Christian community that they find on campus and the vocational skills they learn in the classroom builds the foundation from which they will serve their calling.

The opportunities and ministry experiences that the local church and community provides is also vital to the formation of their identities as ministers of the gospel, regardless of their future vocation. The experience and "on-the-job training" these students get as they venture out into the community––loving, serving, and ministering (not just learning to minister but truly ministering)––is invaluable.

This partnership between the college and the community, between the campus and the church, between academic education and spiritual vocation, is core to the strength of Oak Hill's strategy in raising up the next generation of ministry-minded leaders.

I'm delighted to be the product of that legacy and am equally delighted to continue that legacy today.

LA Stephen Helweg ’16 Degree in Youth Ministries Stephen is a second generation student at Oak Hills Christian College. His mother Susan (Banta) Helweg was a student in the late 70’s. He will graduate in December 2016 with a degree in Youth Ministry.

He says “I chose to earn my four year degree in youth ministry at Oak Hills because I feel a strong calling to reach the youth of this generation for Christ. I see a generation drifting away from Christianity and a youth culture hungry for something real. My hope is that with the training and knowledge I gain during my time at Oak Hills, I will be able to better reach the next generation for the Lord resulting in the turning of young people back to Christ. My experience so far at Oak Hills has been invaluable to me in matters of life and faith. I have learned a great deal about what it means to be a man of God and have gained a practical knowledge of how to best use my talents and abilities to live out my calling for Christ.”

Missions Trip

On Saturday, October 8, 2016, 10 students, 2 community members, and 3 staff left the Oak Hills campus to travel 27 hours by van to Denham Springs, LA for a week of ministry to families impacted by extreme flooding; over 30 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours.

ReachGlobal Crisis Response, EFCA was the coordinating ministry who provided the framework for an incredible week of serving families who lost most everything. Previous volunteer groups had gutted the interior of the homes and our team helped begin the process of rebuilding in four homes. Daily prayer walks through impacted neighborhoods allowed our team to pray for and with the residents of the area.

Though work and sleeping conditions were at times challenging, the sense of joy, community, and service were pervasive among the team.


investing in O

Joan Berntson Vice President for Advancement

A Campaign for Real Transformation

An invitation for you to be involved!

This campaign has been primarily about transforming our campus, though in reality, we long to see student’s lives transformed as well. The planning and prayer that have bathed this process have been going on for a number of years and the fruition of these plans and prayers are now here for all to see.

The campaign goal is $4.3 million

Of that total, $3,250,000 has been received in gifts and pledges. The remaining $1 million needed to fully fund this campaign will pay for the following items: • Building Construction (Cont.) ....$755,000 • Furniture for rooms, hall kitchenettes/lounges ..........$175,000 • Furniture for central two-story student Commons Area............................$25,000 • Remove old men’s and women’s dorms ..........................................$60,000 • Landscaping .......................... $35,000 TOTAL ....................................$1,050,000

The Board, staff, faculty, and students invite you to prayerfully consider a gift or 3 year pledge to this campaign.

Your help in paying for this building will build and transform student lives for years to come.

For more information

on making a gift or pledge please call:

Joan Berntson

218-751- 8670 • 218-766- 2738

Entry View

New Residence Hall

In the summer of 2015 the beloved Administration Building was removed to make way for the new 88 bed residence hall. The Oak Hills Board voted to name this new building the Robert H. Thompson Memorial Residence Hall in memory of a president who had a tremendous impact on the transformation of countless students.


Oak Hills Christian College, Camp Oak Hills, and Center for Indian Ministries

In the spring of 2016, building began!

Watching the progress from early stage cement work, through walls rising, roof trusses being added, and windows being placed has been a treat for our staff and visitors this summer and fall. The plan is to have the building ready for occupancy for our students when they return from Christmas break in January of 2017.

Camp Life

Scott Buchan

Camp Oak Hills Director

2016 Summer Overview

As a result of the summer ministry,

23 campers put their trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation, 30 rededicated their lives to following Him, and 27 made other commitments in their walk with God.

• 2 ½ weeks of staff training – 26 summer missionaries – 20 junior staff

• 2 weeks of day camps – 111 campers • 4 weeks of overnight camps – 232 campers • 3 weeks of Native American camps – 122 campers

Find all the information you need to know to register online for camp programs.

Putting Education into Action

Camp ministry is well known as a powerful tool used by God to reach children with the good news of Jesus. While this is a primary goal of camp ministry, another benefit is that camp is an incredible training ground for young people to learn about service and ministry to others.

Since reopening in 2009, Camp Oak Hills has once again become a place where Oak Hills Christian College students and alumni have put their education into practical ministry experience. This past year 18 out of the 26 summer missionary staff were either enrolled in or had graduated from Oak Hills Christian College.

These students had the opportunity to use the Bible to lead campers to Christ and disciple them in their walk with God. They learned about being responsible for others, how to lead by serving, how to handle conflict that arises in a community, and how to persevere through adversity. These practical lessons will guide them as they take their next step in their journey of ministry to impact lives around the world.

CIM Life Center for Indian Ministries

Reaching Northern Minnesota Native Americans for Christ

As a Cherokee from Chewey, Oklahoma, ministering in chilly Cass Lake, Minnesota wasn't necessarily on the list of “must dos” in the life of Leo Bird.

With a passionate heart for evangelism and a deep love for Jesus, it isn't a huge surprise that God led Leo to his vitally important role as Resident and Missions Director at the Mokahum Ministry Center. In fact, as a graduate of Indian Bible College (Biblical Studies/Pastoral Ministry) in Flagstaff, AZ, Leo's ministry path has come full circle to a place much like IBC; a Center passionate about biblically training the next generation of Native leaders.

Paul Straubel CIM Director

With a very low percentage of people that profess faith in Jesus Christ (3-5%), many have considered North American reservations to be impenetrable with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Leo, however, sees things much differently; “There's definitely still hope on our reservations. These are not hopeless situations. I firmly believe that with God's power, change can happen! Our people have always had strong religious leanings. The key is directing those leanings towards the hope that solely comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. With a limited knowledge of the Bible on our reservations, people have clung to traditional methods of worship. We need more of our people speaking biblical truth into the lives of our Native communities which makes the training at Mokahum so important.”

As a veteran of 15 summers of traveling to over 100 reservations with the On Eagles Wings team, Leo has watched firsthand how people respond to the hope of Jesus Christ; “It's always been a struggle for our people to allow God to be sufficient in their lives. However, when people hear the hope stories of our team; stories from imperfect people just like them, they realize that Jesus can be enough to fill that void in their lives and sustain them.”

Whether preaching, transporting students to share at various events, leading missions trips, or simply hanging out and chatting, the Mokahum family is grateful that Leo Bird chose to answer the call to Northern Minnesota, an opportunity Leo will candidly say is “both challenging and rewarding. The rewards, however, outweigh the challenges when you see the investment we make in the lives of students take hold as they learn and grow in their walk with Jesus.”

For more information about Leo Bird's ministry,

visit Gifts towards Leo's work at Mokahum can be sent to Center for Indian Ministries, Attn: Leo Bird, 1600 Oak Hills Rd SW, Bemidji, MN 56601.

Oak Hills 90th

The 90th Homecoming celebration at Oak Hills held August 26th-28th, was a tremendous success; a unique blend of rich history, quality music, fabulous food, poignant testimonies, and just plain fun. Almost 200 alumni, staff, faculty, and students participated over the course of the weekend, all in the midst of a major construction project - the new Robert H. Thompson Memorial Hall. Attendance this year was enhanced by the intentional timing of the event to allow current students and alumni to mingle and share perspectives from the past, as well as the present.

Sally Cummings Roddy, 90 year old daughter of founding father W.S. Cummings, sent the following greeting, "Enjoy the weekend of celebration as you step into your future! My parents, W.S. and Julia, and I will be with you in spirit."

And to quote alumna Paula Eveland, "Thank you for hosting the 90th Anniversary Reunion.... I appreciate all of the hard work that was put in by the staff to make this a meaningful event...."

We, in turn, would like to thank everyone who attended the festivities and contributed to the celebratory atmosphere that continues to permeate our campus.

Praise God for 90 continuous years of ministry, outreach, and education!

Special gifts to Oak Hills

We are grateful to those who think of Oak Hills as a vehicle to express their heartfelt respect and honor for important people in their lives and to invest in the work of the Kingdom of God in this world. In Honor Steve Hostetter Paul & Michele Straubel

Gifts Given as a Memorial John Andrew & Joy Chan Margaret Englehart Helen Page John Page


Patti Lofgren

R. Duane Perry David Smith Laurence Sutherland Chester Wohlfarth


Our thoughts and prayers are with these families.

Helen Page (staff member for 41 yrs. beginning in ‘37) John Page (’65) Laurence Sutherland (’51) Chester Wohlfarth (’66)

Upcoming Events

Thompson Hall Dedication ..............Feb. 25, 2017 OHCC Spring Preview Day ..............March 30-31, 2017 OHCC & MMC Commencement ......May 6, 2017 Women's Breakaway ........................June 14-17, 2017 Global Leadership Summit ..............Aug. 10-11, 2017 OHCC Homecoming Weekend ........Sept. 22-24, 2017

Keep up to date on News and Events

Alumni • Alumni & Friends




Jarrod Norvold ’09 Youth and Worship Pastor Calvary Church

Steve (’04) and Kelly (Ferris) Schneider (’04) welcomed daughter Leslie Louise, born May 26, 2015. She was welcomed home by sisters Savannah (9), Kaelyn (8), Natalie (6), & Kendall (4). Justin (’12) and Vanessa (Espinoza) Steinke (’12) welcomed daughter Emery Naomi, born July 5, 2016, 9 lbs 6 oz and 20.5” long.

ALUMNI NEWS Justin Burpo '15


I'm currently attending Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and am working towards an M.A. degree in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages. I spent a portion of this last summer working in Israel, excavating the Old Testament city of Abel Beth Maacah (see 2 Samuel 20), which is located just across the border from modern-day Lebanon. In connection with my studies at Trinity, I have also traveled to a variety of other archaeological sites throughout Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece within this past year. I really enjoy learning ancient languages, and I can now say that I have added Sumerian and Middle Egyptian to the biblical Hebrew I learned at Oak Hills!



My wife Sarah and I have been married for ten years and we have four beautiful children: Levi (8), Chloe (6), Olivia (3), and Ella (10 months), who was born last Christmas. I’m coming up on serving seven years at Calvary Church in Walker, Minnesota, as the Youth & Worship Pastor.

The Lord has been very faithful to our family and has blessed us with a wonderful church family and ministry to be serving in. I also have a solo music career. I released my first album in May titled “The Other Side.” This album includes ten original songs that were written out of my own life experiences and faith. The Lord has blessed me with many opportunities to share my music at festivals, camps, churches and youth groups. My wife Sarah runs a photography business called “Little Inspirations Photography” where she primarily photographs newborns, children and families.

We are very grateful as a family for the opportunities that the Lord gives us to love and serve Him, as well as individuals we encounter every day. May the Lord bless you in your daily walk with Him as you trust and find your strength in Him alone.

Alumni Connection at • Alumni • Alumni Directory - user name: alumni / password: connected • Personal Updates - Keep us informed with your news and photos! • Or email updates or news to:

Congratulations to the OHCC Class of 2016 and the Mokahum Ministries Class of 2016! May God bless you as you serve Him!

“Oaks of Righteousness”

Drawing from historical documents along with stories and anecdotes

submitted by many alumni, staff, professors, and former administrators;

the 70 year history of Oak Hills Christian College is given a thorough

presentation. Struggles and conflicts, along with victories and progress,

demonstrate God’s preservation of a small northern Minnesota school

into the twenty-first century. About the Author

Kenneth J. Wold is faculty emeritus and was an instructor in music for

42 years at Oak Hills. He has a diploma from Oak Hills Christian Training School, a B.S. in Music Education from St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN, has done graduate studies at Bemidji State University,

Bemidji, MN, and completed an M.A. in Music Ministry at Western Seminary, Portland, OR.

To purchase, contact Joan Berntson at



1600 Oak Hills Road SW, Bemidji, MN 56601

Oak Hills Christian College




Direction: Falls 2016  
Direction: Falls 2016