Page 1

Volume 50 • Issue 1/2 • Spring 2017



Interim President - Dean of the College Dr. Steven Ware Vice President for Advancement Joan Berntson

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 Community Relations Jim Hodgson


Volume 50 • Issue 1/2 • Spring 2017

Editor Esther Drebelbis - Communications Coordinator

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 at Oak Hills has helped people pursue Christian maturity by teaching the truth from God’s Word that changes lives. Today they achieve this through four 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 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.

Church Ministries serves local ministries through interdenominational networking, consulting, and resourcing. We host several conferences yearly, provide pulpit supply and leadership search assistance, and are developing a church association.

Praise Extravaga

I came to the Great Room of the new Thompson Hall on the evening of January 22 to lead staff and students in a time of dedication and thanksgiving. Before long, we were swept up in a wave of student-led prayer in which God was praised for His extravagant goodness. Students called upon God to consecrate this dwelling and rest His Spirit upon it. They earnestly asked that Thompson Hall be a place of blessing and righteousness, refuge and transformation, of fellowship in the Spirit, and of hope and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was remarkably moving as student after student lifted prayers to our God and Savior.

for God’s ant Goodness

It occurred to me that similar prayers would have been said when the Administration Building was completed, when East and West Hall were first occupied, when the Schreiber Activity Center and the Fellowship Center were built. Similar prayers would have been said with each new building or cabin at Camp Oak Hills, with the completion of space for the Center for Indian Ministries and Mokahum Ministry Center, and at every church plant established and supported under the leadership of the Fellowship. And so when I hear our students pray, I hear the echoes of prayers over many generations. I hear the echoes of prayers uttered by the Spirit through the mouths of students and staff for 90 years. I hear your beautiful and faithful prayers. And I say Amen. Sisters and brothers, loved ones of God, I have a simple and grossly inadequate message for you:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Please keep praying, and thank you. The legacy of faithful servants lives on! Dr. Steven Ware

Interim President - Dean of the College Oak Hills Christian College

College Life

Caution tape is displayed diagonally across Dana’s office door, compliments of his twelve-year-old daughter.

Upon entering, you immediately realize there is no need for caution. A picture collage of family and friends, a mounted deer rack from hunting, and a Star Wars lunch box amidst a bookshelf signify his fun personality. Dana Schnortz isn’t just a professor. He is a skilled professional with a passion for teaching and equipping future business leaders with the knowledge they need to succeed.

Coming to Oak Hills in 2009, Dana, the Director of Small Business Administration, offers an abundance of knowledge and experience, including 4 years managing Bemidji’s Anytime Fitness. Dana sees the value of Oak Hills’ mission and integrating the Word of God in everything we do. “In business, it’s helping students see how they can serve their employees, suppliers, customers and the communities around them. And showing them what Jesus says about leadership in the Bible…and how we live that out,” he says.


2016 student trip

Christmas break is a time that college students cherish -

Dana continues to grow through his work at the Northwest Small Business Development Center helping clients open and build their small businesses. “I am always learning…it keeps me sharp.” During these moments of professional growth, Dana incorporates what he learns in the field and applies it to the classroom setting.

Outside the classroom Dana enjoys seeing students “become more mature as individuals and as believers.” Transitioning from professor to friend, he has gone to hockey games with alumni still in the area and caught up over coffee with those visiting from out of town.

What Dana brings to Oak Hills is rare in higher education, and we are blessed to have his passion, his knowledge, and his love for Christ.

Dana Schnortz is the General Education department chair and program director for Small Business Administration at Oak Hills.

He obtained his Bachelor of Science Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, MN; and went on to earn a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in Phoenix, AZ. Professor Schnortz is also a Professional Business Consultant at the Northwest Small Business Development Center in Bemidji, MN. He has been with Oak Hills Christian College since 2009.

a time to get some much needed sleep, fill up on home cooking, or take a mental break from studying. For nine Oak Hills Christian College students, their Christmas break activity of choice: embark on a 10 day trip to Israel.

Starting in 2009, Dr. Gale Struthers has organized a trip to Israel every two years. The trip is designed to provide a better understanding of what it would have been like to live there during the Biblical era. This year they visited Mt. Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, and saw the southern wall excavations and first century steps of a temple Jesus visited.

The experience is eye opening to the students. “When standing in Capernaum on the shore, watching the sunset, I could imagine Jesus going down to the Sea of Galilee after a night of ministry and seeing the same view,” said Hannah Pearson, OHCC student, about one of her favorite moments. Upon returning, the students have found they are reading the Bible differently and they can better envision what is happening in the text.


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

Joan Berntson Vice President for Advancement

The new residence hall on the Oak Hills campus has turned dreams into reality. Daniel Kosinski, a sophomore at Oak Hills, shared his appreciation at the Robert H. Thompson Memorial Residence Hall dedication on Saturday, February 25, 2017. He commented:

“Thompson Hall has already increased the quality of community on this campus exponentially. Groups meet regularly to pray in the great room, which would have been nearly impossible with the old dorms. Thompson Hall may actually attract new students...where more men and women will be trained and equipped to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This, I pray, will be the future of this building, to be housing for those who do God’s work and are seeking Him.”

Though the new residence hall is completed, A Campaign for Real Transformation continues this summer with landscaping, removal of East Hall (the former women’s dorm), and refacing key buildings on campus.

The Campaign has received approximately $3.5 million of the $4.3 million goal. To help bridge the remaining gap, a generous donor presented a $250,000 matching opportunity, of which $92,000 has been met. However, $158,000 is still needed by December 31, 2017. Your continued gifts and pledges, large or small, will help move us closer to the finish line.

Thompson Hall

Church Ministries

Serving Pastors & Leaders with Jesus’ resources

The Church Ministries Resource Center is fulfilling a vital role in Oak Hills’ greater mission.

Jim Hodgson, Director of Church and Community Relations, works alongside Rick Weinert, Facilitator of Church and Ministry Resources.

Together they bring experience and passion to the ministry. Jim Hodgson They are excited to offer quality resources to churches. Their conviction is that “Jesus has given His church all the resources needed for mature life and ministry. It’s our task to help connect leaders for His kingdom.”

Rick Weinert

Recently, a small church in North Dakota was impacted by this ministry. Struggling to fill a vacancy, they reached out to Jim Hodgson. “I know what it is like to be in their situation and I am thrilled that we are able to offer them assistance,” he says. Jim connected them to a pastor to help guide them, and listed the vacancy on the Oak Hill’s “Career Center” page. Aiding the local church with resources that equip the people of God to be effective and fruitful in the work fo the kingdom. NETWORKING RESOURCES •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Ministry Connections • Career Center • Pulpit Supply • Student Involvement • Conference and Retreats • Facilities Rental & Lodging

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• OHCC •  Classes for Pastors • Library • Camp Oak Hills • Center for Indian Ministries (CIM)


To find out more how this ministry can be of service to your church and community and for contact information go to:

Camp Life

Scott Buchan

Camp Oak Hills Director

2017 Camp Ministries Resident Youth Camps

Pioneer Day Camp 1 Grades K-4 ..............................June 19-23/$164

Trailblazer Camp Grades 3-6 ..............................June 25-30/$234

Lumberjack Camp Grades 4-7 ....................................July 2-7/$234 Voyageur Camp Grades 6-8 ..................................July 9-14/$234

Navigator Camp Grades 9-12 ..............................July 16-21/$234

Pioneer Day Camp 2 Grades K-4 ................................July 24-28/$164 Red Lake Adventure Camp Grades 3-6 ......................July 30 - Aug. 4/$TBD Adult & Family Ministries

Adult Fish Camp ................Sept. 15-20/$varies Kid’s Turkey Shoot......................Sept. 16/Free

Women’s Fall Craft Ret. ..Sept. 29 - Oct. 1/$75

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

Camp Donation Wish List ● Pontoon boat with outboard ● Golf cart for camp nurse ● Hay wagon ● Snowmobile - 2up & reverse

“I had no intentions of doing anything with youth”

Tyler Kromrey shared, “I wrote on my [camp] application that I wanted to do maintenance. By the end of the interview, I was a counselor.” Graduating in December from Oak Hills Christian College with a degree in Youth Ministry, Tyler’s journey started at Camp Oak Hills in 2011.

Working alongside committed Christians was a first for Tyler. “Going into a Christian community [whose beliefs] actually changed the way they lived, really impacted me,” he said. Tyler witnessed counselors and staff look to God for guidance and learned to do the same as he faced different challenges. He recalled struggling with one particular camper and was surprised when the camper approached him, “He told me how big of an impact I had on him...and later that night he gave his life to Christ.” Tyler knew it was God at work.

Tyler returned to Camp Oak Hills the following summer and saw his passion for youth outreach grow. He said, “Junior and Senior high camps were when I [realized] I enjoyed working with kids.” Tyler began feeling God tug at his heart. Tyler yielded to God’s call and transferred from the University of Wisconsin Superior to Oak Hills Christian College to study Youth Ministry.

Tyler served as the Head Boys Counselor the next two summers where he matured in providing leadership to the counseling staff. “Those two summers taught me a lot about how to initiate growth, talk through conflict, and the importance of instilling bonds [amongst the counselors] so they know that they are there for each other.”

Tyler is now serving as an intern at Camp Oak Hills and gaining a deeper understanding of the ministry that changed his life. Looking ahead, his focus is on 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

CIM Life Center for Indian Ministries

Volunteering to further God’s kingdom Larry and Pat Venzina

At a young age Larry Venzina started working for his family’s restaurant. He was involved in everything from being a line cook to working the cash register to clearing tables. As he grew older, Larry pursued different careers outside of food service. Years later, alongside his wife Pat, Larry found himself putting his restaurant knowledge to use at Mokahum Ministry Center by cooking lunch for staff and students to enjoy together.

Larry and Pat first came to Mokahum with a friend in 2008 and felt a calling to the ministry. They began organizing a week long volunteer trip each summer through the church they attended in Missouri. After much prayer and preparation, God opened the door in 2014 for the Venzina’s to volunteer full time at Mokahum as the official cooks. “Everything fell into place to come for a year and every year since.” Larry said. The meals Larry and Pat prepare bless Mokahum beyond words. “They are the best thing that ever happened to us,” states Zane Williams, the Director of Mokahum Ministry Center, “They cook and are involved in [the student’s] growth.” Mokahum students often leave their roots and move many miles to attend the ministry center. The shared meal provides a relaxed environment to help build new relationships with the staff and teachers.

The Venzina’s also organize a post meal clean up, making sure everyone has their own task to complete, which contributes to a sense of ownership, responsibility, and teamwork for the students.

Paul Straubel CIM Director

Sponsor A Student

Monthly Giving Program

Would you like a way to connect with and care for a student? The sponsor-a-student program is your commitment to give monthly to the Student Grant Fund for a year (a suggested minimum commitment of $50 per month) and pray for a specific student by name. You may also choose to send letters, cards, or gifts to “your” student at regular intervals or for special occasions. We will send you a picture of your student and invite you to come to campus and eat a meal with them during the year.

Alumni Project 2016 -’17 Lakeview Landscaping

With your generous support, the goal for the 2016 -’17 Alumni Project of $15,000 has been reached and exceeded! Thank you!

The Alumni Project provides funds for the landscaping of the campus after the deconstruction and construction of buildings. Funds are for trees, shrubs, perennials, a fire pit patio, and walking paths from the patio to the three main campus buildings. Finishing the landscaping will provide a place for students and summer guests to gather and develop friendships and community.

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 Memory Ethel Mae Santon Buchan Dean Fredrikson Robert V. Leiseth In Honor Barb Smith

Bobby Lorence Philip Lupkes Julie Webster

Jennifer Durkee



Thompson Hall - rental Give Online Today! or contact Joan Berntson 218.751.8670

Room Rate: $60 (linens provided at $5/set if needed) • Rooms include two single beds and a private bathroom. • Alumni Summer Special: $10 off if booked by May 1, 2017 Group Hall Rate: $650/night Includes 11 rooms and a wing lounge with kitchenette. Whole Building Rental: $2,600/night

For more information: To reserve: Call (218 or 888)751-8670, ext. 1244 or Email:

Upcoming Events

Oak Hills Christian College

Graduation: May 6 Women's Breakaway: June 14 - 17 United In Christ Conference: July 20 - 22 Global Leadership Summit: August 10 - 11 Fall semester begins: August 22 Homecoming Weekend: September 22 - 24

Alumni • Alumni & Friends


Keep up to date on News and Events Births

Matt ('13) and Heather (Zoch '11) Boyd welcomed daughter Olivia Jaelyn, born February 8, 2017, 8 lbs 9 oz and 20.5" long. Vince and Ashley (Wiese '06) Huerd welcomed son Hudson James, born Oct. 20, 2016, 10 lbs and 22.75" long.

Josh ('15) and Abby (Haynes '14) Larson welcomed son Jaden John (JJ), born June 9, 2016, 7 lbs 1 oz and 21" long.

Jacob ('13) and Nicki (Harthan '10) Giese welcomed their first daughter Naomi Kay, born June 9th, 2016, 8 lbs 1 oz and 20" long. She was welcomed home by 2 older brothers. Greg and Miranda (Melhus '07) Carlson welcomed son Elliott, born June 21, 2016, 7 lbs 1 oz and 20" long

Stephen ('15) and Tiffany (Pierce '14) Daniels welcomed daughter Eleanor Olivia, born January 30th, 2016, 7 lbs 8 oz and 19" long.

Heather (Collinge ’10) Strand married John Strand on October 8, 2016.

In Memory

Our thoughts and prayers are with these families!

Bob Reid Staff member for 16 years beginning in 1967.

Dean Fredrikson Faculty member for 23 years beginning in 1976.

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:

Got A Little Oakie?

Pick up a complimentary Lil’ Oakie baby onesie* from the Welcome Center at Oak Hills. To have one mailed to you, visit Email a photo of your Lil' Oakie to and he or she may be included in a future Direction Magazine! *Available sizes: 6 month and 12 month

Pictured: Gideon Walker Nelson, 11 mos. Son of Jake (’16) and Sydney Nelson

Oak Hills Christian College


1600 Oak Hills Road SW, Bemidji, MN 56601







Featuring Guest Speaker NBC Strong 2016 Contest Winner

Direction: Spring 2017  
Direction: Spring 2017