Sometimes the mission field is a Christ-centered life lived on our own side of the ocean.
That’s what three of our 2013 OKWU graduates learned as they walked across the stage to receive their diploma and then headed straight to Spanish Fork, Utah. Even before graduation, Kyle Gudmunson and his wife Shanae (Grate) Gudmunson, along with Kyle’s college roommate, Adam Fratzke, felt a call to Spanish Fork that was undeniable.
This team, along with Kyle’s brother, Kort, planted The Well Wesleyan Church, (or simply, The Well) in an area of Utah that currently has less that 1% evangelical presence in its 40,000 residents, which identify largely with the LDS Mormon beliefs. With a total of just 5 evangelical churches in the region, the Gudmunsons and Fratzke had their work cut out for them.
While each member of their team holds a normal “day job”, their core mission is to do life with nonbelievers in order to radiate the love of Christ. “I will work tirelessly here,” Shanae says, “In hopes that others will see the freedom and transformation that is in Christ, because of who HE is and everything HE has done.
Being able to minister to people in everyday life is what makes the church plant worth it, the group agrees. Adam, Kyle and Shanae all share about great conversations they have had and lives that have been affected just because they daily seek to live as followers of Christ and pursuers of Truth. From talking with coworkers who have never met a Christian, to Church in the park, to weekly bible studies at Starbucks—these OKWU alumni are setting an example in their communities that is having an impact.Of course, their work is not without challenges. “This is a community that wants Jesus, and thinks that they have found him,” says Adam, “It makes ministry both easy and difficult.” Being a part of a community that is willing to talk about Jesus is a tremendous blessing, but the struggle continues in discussing the Truth and helping those lost to false ideas, to gently understand the grace and love of the Father and free gift of salvation.
Their time at OKWU was critical in their growth, both as people and followers of Christ. Kyle comments on the significance of his time at OKWU by discussing how the faculty and staff genuinely poured into him, further deepening his understanding of the importance and power of discipleship. “OKWU made it clear that Jesus in everyday life was not only possible, but necessary,” comments Adam.
This sentiment is something these individuals have carried throughout their time working at the Well.
In looking towards the future, all three have no intention of leaving or re-locating elsewhere. “Staying here is a given for me,” Shanae comments, “but even more than that, it is a privilege. I plan to continue working here for the future harvest that we dream of… One of my biggest takeaways [from OKWU] is that we are all called to be “missionaries” wherever it is God has placed us.”