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An open letter to Belhaven,

Money has always been an issue for me. Being on disability at under $600.00 a month left me barely getting by, as a matter of fact, without out family, I wouldn’t have gotten by. For years I wanted to go to college. I would sit and look at course catalogs and pick out the classes I wanted but it was just not the time. Self doubt and discouragement and funds kept my dreams out of grasp.

Forty-two years old and one year after the death of my father, I thought about that school who’s sign I seen along I-10, It was close by me, from what I remember the billboard mentioning. I searched it out on the internet, then I researched the accreditation, all looked good but, could I get in? Am I to old? Will I be accepted? Will I get enough loans?

I decided to take that first step and I contacted Belhaven through the internet and soon I was contacted by the Houston campus. A short discussion and I agreed to come visit. Upon visiting the first thing I heard as soon as I walked through the glass door was women praying! Impressive! Soon I was helped and introduced to Elizabeth Salathe. She put me at ease, You see, I get nervous pretty fast talking to people I don’t know But, She treated me like I was someone and her attitude and enthusiasm put me at ease. She showed me around and I liked what I had seen. Next came the transcripts and that took a little effort but Elizabeth helped me every step of the way including finding a notary public. Next came financial aid, Within a couple weeks and transcripts in I was accepted, I was excited! I shared with everyone I am going to an University! A Real University! Then it hit, and my hopes sank.

Financial aid required as asked to by the loan people for me to get a physicians certification that I am able to be gainfully active. Till then I could not even find out if I did this would I have enough funds to complete school. You see twenty years ago or more, I attended a trade school for electronics engineering and I soon left that school and I had to repay the loans. During that time I was found to be 100% disabled and the loans were written off through insurance.


So Now I have to get my Doctor to sign a paper saying basically I am OK. This caused much concern, With this paper I could potential loose my disability and my small income that pays what it can. I talked it over with family and friend and told my decision to Elizabeth at Belhaven that I will postpone because I could loose my disability if I had obtained that paper and I still don’t know if I would even have enough money to complete my schooling. She understood and one thing she said to me, “That right there tells me that you are ready for this and that you are responsible.” What she said meant a lot to me, feeling like a failure, her words lifted me. Even after that I presented that paper to my physician for her to look over and get back to me, I never heard back from her.

Fast forward three months and Belhaven was on my mind again. I need to go to school and inside I had that feeling that I just needed to step out and trust God. If I am hearing Him wrong I may loose it all, then I just need to trust He will make a way. If I am hearing Him right about Belhaven then I need to do it because it is His will and He will take care of me. I really had nothing to loose, Month to month living is getting worse, money does not go as far as it did a short time ago.

I emailed Miss Gentry (who emailed Veronica) and I emailed Susan in Student financial services. In no time at all I had heard from Susan Smith and Miss Gentry via Email and Veronica via Phone and even Elizabeth by email. What can I say but, WOW!!! From that first email I sent as day One, I was in class On day 3! Now that is fast! Could that have been God? Later looking back, I believe it was, as a little sign to me, I realized that it was 3 days, just like Jesus arose on that 3rd day!

It was early in the week when Veronica called, she told me I can start class that week. It was Monday or Tuesday and class started that Wednesday, I was nervous, Was I on track with God? I had my doubts. In Bus 205 with Dr Ruddell my fears settled and I got excited. Class opens with prayer and is laced throughout with scripture, this sure was not the devil wanting me here! Then Dr Ruddell spoke about how man makes his plans but God directs His steps. My spirit Jumped! Later Dr Ruddell spoke


on the parable about building houses on sand or on the rock. He pointed out that the wise not only hear the word of God but put it to action. I applied that to my situation, I heard God about attending Belhaven and I put it to action, I put aside the fear of loosing my income in addition to my fears about returning to school and I went for it. I put action to what I thought may be God leading me, and God honored my action. I am in a Christian University and God is reassuring me that I am in His will.

I received another confirmation, My doctor had that paper for more than 2 months, I had to resend it to her in order to get my financial aid and find out if I will have enough to complete school. Well they sat on it a few days and I called again, the next day I had it in my hands. That day Financial aid had it in their hands. Soon after I got my award letter and I found out I had enough so far to pay for me to summer of 2012! Praise God. I am where He wants me.

I will add this, one night after we finished a group presentation, A female student spoke out in class and told me “You have a calling on your life!” She didn’t know that I was taking classes at Belhaven because I wanted to be a Hospital Chaplain. Yet another confirmation!

I want to take this chance to thank God for this opportunity to be a part of Belhaven and I also want to thank those at Belhaven who stepped out to Houston with a campus. I also want to thank Elizabeth Salathe for her enthusiasm and encouragement and her care. She was and is a major role in my life at Belhaven. Thank you also to Veronica Garcia and to Susan Smith. You all are great, you have been patient with me and You all are helping me achieve my goals and what I believe to be my calling in life, to be a chaplain to the sick and dying and perhaps even a pastor. May God bless each of you and May He Bless Belhaven Ministry in Education.

Thomas Wagner

Future Chaplain and Pastor -Future BASS Degree Recipient -Houston Texas


Posted September 9, 2011 by Thomas D. Wagner in Misc

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