My name is Pat VanderKolk and I live in the United States
I was born and raised in West Michigan and have continued to live in the same small town my entire life. While growing up my family attended church regularly but it was not until after I was married and in my early twenties that I was prompted to intentionally study the Bible. I realized that even though I practiced church traditions I did not have any real understanding of the Bible nor did I comprehend what experiencing God truly meant. I stopped reading short daily devotions and started concentrating on reading the Bible from start to finish. I also prayed that the Lord would give me my own unique testimony of who He is. This first step of obedience has provided me with personal stories of God’s complete love, grace, mercy and supernatural power.
My husband and I spent many years participating and leading in youth ministry events in our church. We went on a number of short term mission trips that involved building relationships with our own students while trying to help those in need throughout the United States and Mexico. This setting gave us confidence to speak about our faith journey and to be open with the young adults in our group. The things we learned on these trips changed how we viewed ministry and the value of deep honest relationships. We learned that you need to earn the right to speak.
We also were given the opportunity to visit with friends who lived in France and North Africa. This experience taught us about international travels and we became more aware of the cultural differences that countries have and some of the distinct difficulties between various religions.
During all of these events I began moving into a deeper level of prayer. I started to understand the importance of prayer and also to practice “listening prayer”. Sitting quietly before the Lord and waiting for His still small voice. I became intrigued by both the biblical stories of dreams and visions along with present time stories of how the Lord revealed Himself through dreams. I also began asking about the use of spiritual gifts and how they are used today. It became clear that I was missing out on the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, the Lord put people in my path that could give me truthful instruction on using the gifts of the Spirit and encouraged me to continue seeking out those gifts.
In the fall of 2004 while on a Biblical study tour to Israel, I sensed the Lord calling me to participate with Him in a deeper relationship and also to prepare for an upcoming ministry experience. I didn’t totally understand what was going to take place but I knew that I had to be open to His calling and that it would fit with my past experiences. The Proverbs 3:6 verse says it best. “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”.
Each step in this journey has brought about new and exciting understandings of God’s faithfulness and His patience. His timing is always perfect and He always reveals the next step to take place. He also factors in my fear, stubbornness, and even procrastination. The Holy Spirit convicted me of past and present sin. He taught me that there really is full forgiveness and we can be set free from sin that has held us in bondage.
In 2011 a friend spoke prophetically over me regarding becoming trained in pastoral care and even being ordained in some form of ministry. I laughed at this because I had limited college education and it didn’t make sense at age 54 to invest the time or money into additional education. My work, volunteer and family schedule would not fit into a classroom type program and furthermore I didn’t think I was smart enough to participate in high level seminary classes. Much to my surprise in 2013 I was introduced to Christian Leaders Institute by a church member. Each area that I listed as an impossible reason for me to receive ministry training has now become possible because of CLI. My fear of failure was terminated after taking the initial introductory class.
The CLI on-line classes fit perfectly with what I needed to succeed in ministry training. The Ordination class will allow me to fulfill the necessary role to move forward in additional ministry opportunities that I will be stepping into. I am still waiting patiently and watching for events to unfold.
I am continuing to encourage lay-people to consider CLI as a form of training and discipleship. This is just another example of experiencing God’s provision.