It’s safe to say that the last twelve months of life didn’t go precisely as Noah and Jaidyn Rollins originally planned.
This time last year, they were engaged and attending Kingswood University—a Wesleyan sister-school in New Brunswick—and their outline for the next few months was pretty straightforward.
“The plan for Noah’s fourth year was to work at a local church and do a supervised ministry for his senior year of college,” Jaidyn said.
But then COVID-19 hit, and the world changed.
“Because of COVID and because he’s Canadian, he wasn’t able to get a work visa because those processes got shut down. They didn’t want to let foreign workers in, so it was kind of like—oh, we can’t do that anymore,” she said.
Just like that, the entire outlook of the Rollins’ year ahead changed, causing them to shift almost everything about their plans and eventually leading them to OKWU’s campus.
“It’s crazy how we’ve only been here six, seven months, and we have some of the closest friends. So I think God’s faithfulness has just been evident in every step of it.”
A Change of Plans
Like OKWU, Kingswood made the transition to online schooling to finish out the Spring 2020 semester—which presented a problem for Noah and Jaidyn. Noah’s family lives in rural Canada, where wireless internet would prove to be a challenge, so the couple decided to head to South Dakota, where Jaidyn’s parents live.
“When we got to the border, Noah got denied,” Jaidyn said. “They found out we were getting married, and you can’t come into the states on a visitor’s visa to get married and then transition out of that. You have to come in with a different visa.”
With nowhere else to go, they started back towards Kingswood—until they got an interesting phone call on the drive.
“Jim Dunn called us, and he said, ‘I can get you a student visa if you want to continue your education. We can figure out all of the details, but I can get you a student visa tomorrow and have you accepted to OKWU.’”
Dunn had heard about their plight from Jaidyn’s father, a Wesleyan pastor.
“Noah and Jaidyn became friends of ours through our close friendship with Jaidyn’s parents that extends many years back,” Dunn said. “They were a delight to have in our home for a few days as they transitioned to OKWU. It will be wonderful to have front row seats with how the Lord builds His kingdom through the ministry He opens for them.”
The decision took a bit of thinking—by their own admission, Noah and Jaidyn weren’t exactly planning to move to Bartlesville anytime soon. But eventually, they took the plunge: if a student visa in Oklahoma was the way they could finish their schooling, that was what they’d do. In the meantime, they lived with Noah’s family, finishing out the lockdown summer in Canada.
An Unusual Honeymoon
In July, Noah and Jaidyn crossed the border—this time, with no problems. They were married in August and moved to Oklahoma three days later.
“Our honeymoon was our travels down to Bartlesville,” Noah joked.
Until their apartment was ready, Noah and Jaidyn lived with Jim and Wendy Dunn. They started classes in the fall—Noah in the School of Ministry and Christian Thought, and Jaidyn through OKWU’s CROSS Training program. And while the whole transition process is easy to joke about now that it’s over, it was intimidating at the time.
“I think the toughest part of that was that we really had to trust in God. I mean when you lose all your plans, there’s nothing you really can do but trust in God,” Noah said. “It was just relinquishing control to Him, because we were losing our plans. And then we had to pack up our stuff right after getting married and move to a place that we’ve never been together, and come to a town with people we didn’t know—we didn’t know a single student at OKWU, we only knew Jim and Wendy… So it was just a huge transition, and there had to be a lot of trust in God. It was really scary, honestly.”
But once they got on campus, the Rollins began to see God’s design, reveling in the tight-knit community at OKWU and enjoying the relationships they were building.
“We’ve been blessed with some of the deepest friendships we’ve ever had in our lives,” Jaidyn said. “And it’s crazy how we’ve only been here six, seven months, and we have some of the closest friends. So I think God’s faithfulness has just been evident in every step of it.”
Not only that—they’ve begun to see their trials over the last year as preparation for their future ministry.
“It seems like this season of moving to Bartlesville for a year, moving to a new place and not knowing anyone—it’s kind of like preparation to church plant,” Jaidyn said. “In the future, when we church plant, it’ll be in a community we’ve never been, that we’ve visited but haven’t lived, we don’t know anyone, we have to develop our friendships, we have to develop the community around us. So that’s kind of been the positive thing that we’ve looked back on.”
“In all my doubts and all our weaknesses, it was so obvious that God was there answering every prayer, even if it didn’t look like that. He was always providing a way for us, He was always just doing what was best for us.”
Things won’t slow down for Noah and Jaidyn anytime soon. The day after graduation, they’ll pack their belongings once again, this time heading for Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they’ll both take positions at Celebration Church. They’ll each continue their education while gaining practical ministry experience for the future.
“Our plan is to be there as they continue to prepare us for that call of church planting,” Noah said. “We’re not sure the timeline for that, but when God is ready to send us, they’ll be ready, too.”
Looking back over the last year, both Noah and Jaidyn say the thing they’ve taken away is a heightened sense of trust in the Lord’s plans—even, maybe especially, when it’s most difficult.
“The biggest thing was just God’s faithfulness, I guess,” Noah said. “I mean, I continue even to this day to try and make my own plans and figure things out on my own, but through COVID we lost so much: family, the school we were going to, our future plans. But in all my doubts and all our weaknesses, it was so obvious that God was there answering every prayer, even if it didn’t look like that. He was always providing a way for us, He was always just doing what was best for us. It’s really cool to see.”
“I think God wants us to plan things and to be going in the right direction, but also to be open to what He directs in different seasons,” Jaidyn said. “I think that’s something we’ve learned a lot in this past season. All of our plans kind of got erased, and God’s plan just happened, and we just had to say yes.”
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