Homily: Akin Bailey by The Wesley

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias' own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore many things to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.” (Mark 6: 17-29)

In this passage Herod is torn. John the Baptist did what any good Christian would and told him not to marry Herodias because it was unlawful. This incited Herodias’ anger and she asked for John to be put to death. Herod cannot kill John without then having to face his followers, and he cannot leave him alone without slighting Herodias. After already sinning once by marrying her, Herod is faced again with the same question: do I sin, or do I not? This is a question that we as Christians are faced with everyday, both in daily battles against sin and temptation and in larger crises and decisions. Often we take these situations and try to find the best compromise - a way to get what we want without sacrificing too much. Sometimes these problems are convoluted and have no clear answer, but the majority of the time, the right answer can be found by answering the simple question of, “Do I sin, or do I not?” And all too often we fail to ask the question, and follow in Herod’s footsteps. Herod tried to please everyone and get what he wanted by toeing the line between right and wrong, seemingly doing neither. By imprisoning John, he opens the door for Herodias to manipulate the situation and have John killed. If Herod had simply refused outright to do anything against John, then John may not have been killed when he was. If Herod had not married Herodias in the first place, then it is likely that most, if not all, of these difficulties would not have come to pass. 

So I challenge you. I challenge you to examine the patterns in your life, the questions you ask yourself, and the advice that you ignore. I challenge you to make the decision to act in accordance with God’s will, faithfully seeking counsel in place of pleasing everyone. I challenge you to do the necessary work of rooting out the small sins in your life so that they do not lead you to death. Amen.

Akin Bailey is a valued and beloved member at the Wesley Foundation. You can always count on him to be a joyous and spirited presence in the same way you can always count on him to be climbing on something!

Akin Bailey is a valued and beloved member at the Wesley Foundation. You can always count on him to be a joyous and spirited presence in the same way you can always count on him to be climbing on something!

What Truly Satisfies: Chlese Jiles by The Wesley

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I graduated from Louisiana Tech in Studio Art this past May, and making art has nearly always been my biggest passion. During college, however, I learned that being an artist was not my greatest identity. The way that the arts call for you to give all of yourself, your time, your resources to the making of your work is appealing. Romantic. You are seen as someone with dedication and commitment. But when I began to become more involved at the Wesley, I realized that ministry and discipleship demand the same things, except one results in my own glory while the other brings glory to the King of Heaven. It took a little while to see, but I slowly changed my priorities. My greatest passion changed.  My heart changed. Or rather I realized that what I thought would satisfy me wasn’t enough all along. 

All throughout my senior year, I could feel my focus shifting. As I sat in four hour studio classes, I wished I was hanging out at the Wesley. When classes interfered with me being able to go to our Thursday lunches, something in my spirit sank. If I couldn't make it to the 8:30 am Eucharist service on Fridays, I had a longing. Even when I was excited and enthralled with the art I was doing, I didn't want to be isolated in a studio, but at the Wesley, surrounded by friends - no matter if I did end up getting distracted. 

Yet after I applied for the Wesley's internship and was given the job, I still decided that my ministry work would probably end there. That once I finished the internship, I would move to a different state, get an illustration job, and make sure to find a good church to be as involved in as I could. In all honesty, I just didn't think that I could find a place like the Wesley that would ask me to play a part in its community. That could pull me up out of my dark places and my insecurities to show me how to be a disciple. Without even realizing it, I came to think that I could only do ministry if I found a place that pushed me to do it.  And then came Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words: 

"The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians...It is by God's grace that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly around God's word and sacrament in this world." 

As we studied Bonhoeffer’s Life Together this summer at the Wesley, I was convicted by the way he described what it meant to be in a community and to be a disciple of Christ.  I came to realize just how many of my thoughts about working in ministry were misconceived, self-interested, or driven by my own fears. I cannot let my comfortability in a place determine whether or not I follow God’s call to me - to all of us - to spread his Word.

When I began to meet new students and they asked me what I wanted to do after the Wesley internship, I replied with what I had been sure of for about a year: "I want to be a character designer and illustrator for an animation company." But as the summer crept on, the more forced, more habituated, more untruthful this answer felt. It was here that I finally began to untangle what were my true feelings and what were fears. Even in this moment, I’m still doing some untangling. What I can be sure of, though, is that leaving a life enveloped in the ministry is not what I want.  The testimonies that I’ve heard, and the work that God has done in my own life over these last four years at the Wesley has shown me what happens when one comes in contact with the living God through His people. He has been so faithful in showing me how to follow Him. I can only pray that He will continue showing me where I’m called to be.


Chlese has been a member of the Wesley since her freshman year of college. She is currently a ministry intern at the Wesley and loves getting the chance to work for the community that completely changed her life.

Chlese has been a member of the Wesley since her freshman year of college. She is currently a ministry intern at the Wesley and loves getting the chance to work for the community that completely changed her life.

The Bigger Picture by The Wesley

 Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

For the longest time, I looked at testimonies as one major life-changing event, and every now and then there would be another event that contributed to the formation of my relationship with God. In a way that is true, but it's also more than that because it is always about the bigger picture. Testimonies are about small moments and big events. I cannot look back at one event and say this is why I’m here and why my relationship with God is the way it is, but I can look at my entire 19 years and 10 months of life and see how God has connected everything to this point where I sit in the nursery at Grace UMC and know God’s unchanging love for me. 

I moved to Louisiana when I was seven years old. I never really had a home church until the Wesley Foundation at ULM became my home. My family was there almost every day, and all the college students were like older siblings to me. I could see the plan God laid out for us unfold as the Wesley and my family grew. The foundation of my faith is rooted in that building by the bayou. My relationship with God grew like a tree.

Another defining moment for my faith was the yearly Mexico trip I went on between 4th and 8th grade. It was a week every December where a group of us from the Wesley would go to Acuna, Mexico and build a house in three days. It was always an incredible experience. It is hard to explain, but I know that my life was changed every year in those three days. During one of these trips, I realized God was calling me to missions. He began planting seeds that would foster my desire to help build homes for others and eventually lead me to major in Architecture in college.

College has been new and exciting. God has led me to people that have helped me grow and have challenged me to dive deeper into my faith with Him. A community who is there without hesitation. In the spring of my freshman year, my grandfather died. It wasn't unexpected. During that time I was in constant prayer, leaning on God, and asking Him for comfort. Every time I felt like He was telling me it was okay to cry, knowing that I wanted and needed to grieve, a part of me always held me back saying I needed to be strong for my family. So it took a while to grieve and it wasn't until one night during worship at the Wesley Foundation at Louisiana Tech where we sang the song we sang at my grandfather's service that I did. And that was it. I felt God enwrap me and hold me as I finally mourned and cried every tear I had held back for so long. God was there to comfort me and grieve with me in that loss and this was the moment where His love was made even more apparent to me.

Because I know His love I can write my bigger picture testimony of life. I came into college seeking a campus ministry to become involved with and just as the ULM Wesley is home the Tech Wesley has become my new home since coming to Ruston. I found a community that welcomes and loves everyone they meet. The Wesley Foundation is a community that helps one another grow and deepen their relationship with God. 

Over this past year, my family experienced some changes that led me to see that I needed to seek a community, and thankfully I was blessed enough to see that I needed to become part of this Christian community. God also knew I needed this community for my relationship with Him to grow deeper and for me to feel His comfort and love more completely. We all have stories, and it is never just about that one moment or event, but rather how all those events add up in order for God to show us His bigger picture. 

Emery Johnson is a sophomore at Louisiana Tech University. She is currently majoring in Architecture. Emery has a beautiful soul and brings joy every she goes. She carries the light of Jesus beautifully and she is a cherished member of the Wesley community.

Emery Johnson is a sophomore at Louisiana Tech University. She is currently majoring in Architecture. Emery has a beautiful soul and brings joy every she goes. She carries the light of Jesus beautifully and she is a cherished member of the Wesley community.

Heirs Through Hope by The Wesley

Titus 3:3-7 (NIV)

“3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”


BCP p.339

“Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom.”


During my mission trip to Mexico with the Wesley Foundation this past summer I kept a daily journal documenting the places we visited, the people we met, and the things I was being taught. Near the end of the trip there’s an entry that, besides the date, contains only one word:


“Hope”


I’m not certain what exactly had happened this day to prompt my meditation on this word. It is true though that if I could choose one word to describe our mission to Mexico it would be “hopeful.” 

In the months leading to the mission I had been confronted by questions and doubts that, until then, I had not experienced, at least not to the extent that I was now experiencing them - questions of my purpose, of the existence of God, of His love for me. As far as I could tell, these questions had come from exhaustion from what I can only describe as what I perceived to be lack of passion or at the very least a lack of joy. I had begun to become dissatisfied by what I felt was merely a trust of the faith of others. Despite these questions, I was advised to continue in the act of trusting. To hope.

So I went to Mexico. 

In each location during our four-week mission, we served alongside ministers of the Anglican Church of Mexico. I saw these men and women serve in beautiful ways, especially in the giving of themselves, in poverty of spirit, to the straightforward preaching of the Gospel, trusting that the Lord would take their offering and use it to gather people to Himself. These ministers - both those officially appointed by the Anglican Church as well as their parishioners, who showed us immediate and unconditional love and hospitality - invited us into the understanding that we have nothing more and nothing less to offer than the love of Christ. Many of them had little to give but what they had, they gave without reservation. Many were struggling in very real, very painful ways, and yet were dying to themselves and stepping out in obedience daily. These ministers reminded us through their humility and love of the joy of proclaiming the Gospel - joy that had us dancing in the rain and laughing with strangers and singing in the streets.

In the church services we participated in, we were invited to further lose ourselves by joining our voices in the words of the Book of Common Prayer. These words, though spoken in Spanish, were familiar to me by my family’s occasional attendance in Episcopal churches throughout my childhood and in the Wesley Foundation’s weekly celebration of the Eucharist. Theoretically, the importance of liturgy in its transcendence of tongue and nation and time has always made sense to me but it was not until I was standing beside these believers, in a place I had never been, stumbling over words in language that I did not know, that this transcendence was made real to me. It was there, in the familiar rhythm of the Holy Eucharist Rite Two, that the Holy Spirit showed me that it is in losing myself, in losing my voice to the crowd, that I am united to the Body of Christ.

I was reminded that to know that I am loved by Jesus is to be reminded weekly and daily of His body and blood - to admit my weakness and to rely wholly on the grace of Jesus, manifested in the sacraments. To know Jesus is not to merely know about Him but to be caught up in the rhythm of the celebration of His sacrifice for us that hems us in through hope with our brothers and sisters - co-heirs and co-laborers - and binds us to the grace and kindness that caused us to hope in the first place. I found that what I had seen as “merely” trust was really the beginning and the end of my faith. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, it is because we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses that we are able to throw off everything that hinders us and run with endurance the race before us. If the Eucharist teaches us to hope, it is because it assures us, when we are most unsure, that we are members of a mystical body of believers. 

Often hope seems like a bittersweet word to me - a word of future good, implying present suffering. I think that in many ways it is this but it is also more than this. In Mexico, I was reminded of a living hope. I was taught to hope, not in what I may one day feel or for a salvation that I may one day achieve but for a good inheritance that I have already been given. An inheritance that I do not earn but that was in fact given to me at the very moment I felt I deserved or even understood it the least. An inheritance that I do not receive alone but that I receive with the multitude of saints across the world and throughout time, the company of the blessed, the poor in spirit, who proclaim that they are very members incorporate in the mystical body of God’s Son and also heirs, through hope, of His everlasting kingdom.

I will forget these things, no doubt. I will feel lost. I will wander. I will question why I haven’t yet moved passed my brokenness or doubts. But Jesus does not tell us to figure everything out before coming to Him - instead, He gives us hope. He tells us to ask, trusting that He will answer. He tells us to lose ourselves and follow Him because it is in losing ourselves that we are found and it is through hope that He calls us heirs and invites us into the joy of our salvation. He calls each of us to do this individually, but when we do we will look around to see that there are others, too, who hope with us and sometimes even for us.


WENONA IS A SWEET SOUL AND HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE WESLEY FOUNDATION FOR THREE YEARS. SHE IS CURRENTLY IN HER FINAL YEAR AT LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY MAJORING IN ENGLISH AND PLANT SCIENCE. SHE ENJOYS DANCING, SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH HER FELLOW COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND HAS A VIBRANT SMILE THAT BRINGS JOY TO ALL SHE ENCOUNTERS. WE ARE SO THANKFUL TO HAVE THIS LOVELY WOMAN APART OF OUR COMMUNITY.

WENONA IS A SWEET SOUL AND HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE WESLEY FOUNDATION FOR THREE YEARS. SHE IS CURRENTLY IN HER FINAL YEAR AT LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY MAJORING IN ENGLISH AND PLANT SCIENCE. SHE ENJOYS DANCING, SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH HER FELLOW COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND HAS A VIBRANT SMILE THAT BRINGS JOY TO ALL SHE ENCOUNTERS. WE ARE SO THANKFUL TO HAVE THIS LOVELY WOMAN APART OF OUR COMMUNITY.

Alumni Post: Nicole Warren by The Wesley

Life is hard. Life is beautiful. Life is complex. Life is simple. One day can be full of joy, love, laughter, color, and in just a second, the next moment can be heartbreaking, frustrating, dull, and utterly confusing. Over the last two years since I left the Wesley Foundation, I have been riding this roller coaster.

Life is also full of change. Our environments change, our thoughts change, our political beliefs change, our morals change, our friends and family change, and, most of all, we as individuals change as we travel through the different seasons of life. In the last two years, I have experienced an immense amount of change. Other than my beloved husband and cat, everything else in my life was going through transition: my environment, community, friends, work, rhythm of life, what grocery store I went to. Honestly, I did not take it very well for a time. The last two years have been the hardest. My mentors at the Wesley told me that it was going to be difficult, but I did not truly believe them. In many ways, I was confused about who I was. The things that I used to use to mark my identity were now gone, and in turn, I became confused about who God was. I thought I had it all together and would never have to go through such an inward battle, but I was wrong. There were some days I did not want to get out of bed or do the daily tasks of life. Anxiety and distrust of others overwhelmed my heart and soul, and God felt distant. There seemed to be a gray film over everything I saw, like a Snapchat or Instagram filter. I was confused and in need of direction.

Now, I am sharing all of this on this blog because I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am not the only Christian that has walked through a dark time, and all I find myself desiring these days is honesty with myself and my relationships. I am also sharing this because I believe that I am mostly out of this dark time, and I now have some perspective as I look back on the last two years. The one word that I would describe the last two years is stripped. God has stripped me and is continuing to strip me raw. The things I once went to for my identity and self-esteem are now gone. All that has been left is my broken self with all of my insecurities and flaws before a perfect and understanding God.

I was a part of the Wesley Foundation for all of my college career and was an intern. The Wesley taught me so much, but in hindsight, I am beginning to see one of the most valued things I received from being a part of the Wesley Foundation: The Wesley community formed me to be a fighter. It was a community that taught me perseverance, commitment, love, and endurance. Jesus formed me at the Wesley to be a woman of perseverance for such a time as this. He formed me to keep pushing even when I feel so weak. He taught me how to cry out to him in need, and he has never failed to reveal to me that he heard every cry.

God has led and is continuing to lead me out of this dark time of my life. He heard my heart’s cry and provided me a space to truly connect with him again. He led me to work at an art and science museum in downtown Baton Rouge, and it has truly revitalized my soul. Only God would know that a museum would bring so much healing to me. Garrett and I also lead a youth ministry together, and oh, how those students bring me life. God has used them to bring laughter, love, and a need for a double portion of patience. I love them and would give anything to watch every single one of them flourish. Many of them struggle and have tough home lives. They remind me that I need to keep pressing into Christ so I have something to pour out into their souls.

Overall, I am forever grateful for my time at the Wesley Foundation. It was not just a fun time, but a time that allowed me to grow and flourish for the darker, weaker moments of my life. God is and will forever be present in that place. I pray that students encounter Jesus this year and will forever be changed like me.

“You know before I do where my heart can seek to find your truth.”

Nicole Warren is a beautiful woman of God and a beloved alumnus of our community. She worked as an intern at the Wesley Foundation during the 2016-2017 school year. Presently she lives in Baton Rouge with her husband Garret and their cat Jasmine. Nicole works at an art museum in downtown Baton Rouge as well as in youth ministry with Garret.

Nicole Warren is a beautiful woman of God and a beloved alumnus of our community. She worked as an intern at the Wesley Foundation during the 2016-2017 school year. Presently she lives in Baton Rouge with her husband Garret and their cat Jasmine. Nicole works at an art museum in downtown Baton Rouge as well as in youth ministry with Garret.

New Hope Through Prayer: Katelyn Fajardo by The Wesley

Matthew 9

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”


We have been praying fervently for this community and for the students on Louisiana Tech’s campus that they would find a home at Wesley like so many of us have, and in doing so that they would come to know the Lord in newer and deeper ways. I can say without a doubt that the Lord has been answering those prayers. At the first orientation I went to after returning from missions, our team of students and staff who had come to meet new students were filled with excitement. We made fools of ourselves cheering for orientation groups and dancing to the Tech fight songs. To be working together again in the name of the Lord after some of us had been apart for more than a month was something we could all recognize was a gift, and it seemed to bring us endless joy. Not only that, but this was a kind of joy that begged to be shared and we couldn’t help but do just that. We found ourselves sharing with these new students more of ourselves and our time than I think some of us expected to be willing to offer. These students were revealing to us parts of ourselves that seem to instinctively reach for other people and show them they’re welcome. Although, I’m not so sure it’s instinctive. I think it’s habitual. I think it’s learned and I just didn’t notice how deeply we were learning it.


I could talk about any number of aspects of our spiritual formation at the Wesley that could make Christian love a habit--from the practices we’re taught in meetings with our discipleship team to the posture of hospitality and love we consistently saw from our brothers and sisters in Mexico. However, at least for myself, I think among the most powerful of these influences is how we’re learning to pray; that is to say often and together. We walked through this concept as a community for a few weeks this summer reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. In this book, Bonhoeffer teaches about Christian community, service, confession, and as previously mentioned, prayer (both alone and in community). In these discussions, I was shown the justification for why I found one part of this summer to be so beautiful. I was one of the members of the mission team the Wesley sent to Mexico this year, and one of my favorite things we did on the trip was morning and evening prayer using the book Shorter Christian Prayer. This consisted of reading through Psalms and other scripture chosen for the day, offering intercessory prayers for one another, praying the Lord’s prayer (in Spanish), and singing canticles with tired, sweet voices. Something about this practice of prayer taught me what it really means to bear one another’s burdens and what it means to entrust yourself in the Lord’s care. On this trip to Mexico specifically, so many of us were made to understand our desperate need for the Lord and for each other. We know we are powerless without help from the God who made us, so we pray often. We know we are made to be in relationship with one another, so we pray together. Practicing this daily began to turn our eyes away from ourselves and our own power (or more likely a lack thereof) and towards the incomprehensible, life saving power and love of Jesus Christ. He answered prayers daily on that trip and I think we all came back having been relieved, at least in part, of our own self-concern. 


I say all this in an attempt to make some sense of just why the interns, discipleship, and I feel so hopeful for this school year that is just beginning. All summer I have seen the Lord’s compassion and faithfulness, both in my own life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters in this community. In everything we do, from inviting new students to parties to planning our worship services, there has been a sense of joy, expectation, and hope. It’s easy for me to discredit this hope as just common anticipation of something different, which anyone could feel at the start of some new chapter. After all, where was this hope at the end of last year? But I think if there is a mistake there, it is never in the hoping, but the lack. Ours is a hope no longer rooted in our own capabilities, but rooted in faith in a God who has clearly been moving within us. Our faith is in the God of the universe who hears our prayers and has compassion for us.


Since making the Wesley her home nearly 4 years ago, Katelyn Fajardo has become a beloved member of this community, being trusted to lead small groups as well as the worship team. She is a wise and caring member of our body who seeks to speak worth and the truth of Jesus’ love into others. After graduating from Louisiana Tech in Psychology this coming spring, she will begin the Wesley’s ministry internship.

Since making the Wesley her home nearly 4 years ago, Katelyn Fajardo has become a beloved member of this community, being trusted to lead small groups as well as the worship team. She is a wise and caring member of our body who seeks to speak worth and the truth of Jesus’ love into others. After graduating from Louisiana Tech in Psychology this coming spring, she will begin the Wesley’s ministry internship.

Alumni Post: Nick Wagner by The Wesley

My name is Nick Wagner and I am an alumnus of the Louisiana Tech Wesley Foundation.  I first encountered the Wesley Foundation as a freshman at Louisiana Tech University.  I was raised in the church, participated in all different types of church events, and was there every Sunday with my family.  I had great parents and was raised right. However, between getting soured by church politics and having my own sinful habits on the side, I became jaded with the church outwardly and distant from Jesus personally.  This continued for several years. I would attend church every Sunday and occasionally be involved with small groups during the week, but it all ended in my second year at college when I wound up at rock bottom and spilled my guts to Scott Wright, the then-director of the Wesley Foundation.  I was at a fork in the road and had to choose “life or death, blessings or curses.” I ended up choosing life. It was something that blessed not only my life but the life with my then-girlfriend and now wife, Alana. God showered us with blessings and opportunities to serve in ways that were beyond my wildest dreams.  I led small groups, helped with local missions, and heard great, biblical teaching on a weekly basis. On top of this, I was able to form relationships with other people who were doing the same thing at the same time.

Through fundraising, hard work, and prayer, we were able to participate in local missions such as building ramps for families in need, praying for late night food service workers, and ministering to children in project housing.  We also participated in foreign missions, and I was able to go five times to the country of Haiti and assist with missions in the town of Sus a Phillippe. We saw people spiritually saved, physically saved, and an old water filtration system come back to life.  Dead bones began to live again. It rocked my world and I now have friends and family across the ocean. It was something that was only possible by the grace of God and the generous support of faithful believers.

As I graduated with a degree in Architecture, I also felt God slowly but definitively calling me to preach.  I never wanted to do this. I was content with serving behind the scenes, sitting with a new person in church, doing mission work with my hands, or leading an intimate Bible Study.  However, the idea of preaching and pastoring was something that I resented. I had seen bad church politics when I was younger and had seen good men get chewed up and spit out by the people they were trying to serve.  I figured if God ever called me to this, I would tell Him to call someone else. I spoke to many people about this, including family friends, my father-in-law, and people my age. However, the calling would not go away and I knew that if I did not answer now, I would just be prolonging the inevitable.  I was going to have to answer sooner or later and I figured it might as well be sooner. At an outreach service at Ollah UMC, I preached for the first time. I was scared to death before, during and after, but I knew I was doing what God had called me to do. Since then, I have been blessed with the chance to serve in ministry, both at a church in south Louisiana and now at my current position as Director of Youth and Young Adults at Grace UMC in Ruston, Louisiana.  God has also allowed me to marry my wonderful wife and we are enjoying our second year of life together. I love the church I minister at, the ways in which God allows me to serve, and the blessing it is to see people know Jesus better. The Wesley Foundation at Louisiana Tech has a long history of shining light in dark places. I pray this will continue as you share Jesus with people and allow Him to give “good news to the poor, liberty to the captive, and the recovery of sight to the blind.”  God has moved mightily through this ministry and I have been humbled to have been a part of it.


Alumni Post: Devon Dollahon by The Wesley

I finished my internship for the Wesley about a month ago, and have left Ruston to start a new period of my life at graduate school. Recently, I was able to return to Louisiana to visit my friends. It will be a while before I can see them again, and for many of us, our friendships will drift apart. I guess that’s just how it is with college, though that acknowledgment doesn’t dull the pain. I would have felt similarly if I had left last year when I graduated instead of staying for another year as a Wesley intern, but I think these feelings are particularly poignant now. It was easier last year, not only because I was staying and several of my other friends were too, but because this year I experienced something personal and deep with those at the Wesley that I have rarely felt before, despite the Wesley already being a place of genuine friendship. 

Being an intern means having a whole new level of intimacy with the community. You are invested in other interns, invested in the lives of students you disciple, and invested in strangers. My fellow interns from last year know me better than almost anyone now. Most of our staff meetings we bared our souls to one another. We supported each other and cried with each other. When I met with students, we shared our lives even when we didn’t know one another well yet. We shared our feelings of grief over relationships gone wrong, joy over things going well, fear or pain felt for family members, and anxieties over our futures. We became friends. I did my best to point them to Christ, and to love them sincerely. Beautifully, they often did the same for me. The internship also taught me to see everyone I passed on campus as a person. A person who needed God needed love, and needed a community. 

I am not the same person I was last August. I don’t know how someone can do the work we do here and not be changed by it. Particularly because it’s hard. What I said before may sound idyllic, but many times things went poorly. There were awkward hangouts with students where he/she just didn’t want to be there and seemed to treat coming to the Wesley like a doctor’s appointment: getting his/her shot of spirituality before going back to finishing a paper or playing a video game. There were countless moments when I terribly embarrassed myself in front of strangers. Every day is a rush to meet with all the people you want to see, prepare for all the events that need to happen, and finish all the chores that keep the Wesley building running. Many days I felt like a failure because I didn’t yet have the maturity to know how to do my work right yet or how to accept my mistakes without condemning myself. However, Ryan and Kaiti encouraged me continually. In addition, all year there were major difficulties: friends and coworkers who left suddenly, loved ones who were sick, tornados that hit, and periods of diminishing attendance. The internship is hard because when you start you’re not ready for it. However, you grow to meet it. And those who weathered the difficulties with me, both students and staff, are closer to my heart because of it. 

If given the chance, I would do it all over again, the good and the bad. Because the good has been so overwhelmingly good: the joy of dance parties, the goofy antics of friends delighting in being themselves, the wonder of learning new truths from the scriptures, the understanding and love shared and shown when we grieve and pray together. These were moments of God’s presence. He has used this year to teach me to pray with sincerity, accept my failures, lead unselfishly, listen to hard advice, truly trust others, and to live every day as a gift from the Lord. The fruition of these lessons didn’t come till the end, till the last thing we do as interns: the mission trip. It was incredible. We traveled through desolate and dangerous mountain roads to reach children who have no access to the Gospel, we prayed over families who were grieving from sickness or death, we gave clothes and food to those with nothing, we helped build new churches, we made lasting friendships, and we were shown love with a generosity and sincerity that astounds us. Through it all, we became a family, and God showed us what it means to live each day for Him. 

I think that has been what is most life-changing about this year: beginning to understand how to really live each day for others. College can be quite a selfish thing. I spend every day studying hard to get the grades I need to get the degree I need to get the job I need to make the money I need. Don’t get me wrong, studying is good, but there is a difference between waking up in the morning and thinking “what do I need to do to maximize my grades,” and “what can I do today to serve Christ.” The difference may sound easy to fix, but it is a state of mind that needs to be rewritten. Every single day for a year an intern devotes themselves to doing God’s work. Every day is about someone else. It’s difficult, but one must lose his life to gain it. It’s life-giving. It’s fulfilling. It’s beautiful. 

This year has been a journey, and its end is bittersweet. Though it hurts to leave them behind, I am glad for all the moments we had together and the man I am becoming because of this job. I will be praying for my family at the Wesley, and I am excited for the wonders God will work in the lives of next year’s interns. 

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1,2

Devon Dollahon   Devon Dollahon is an alumnus of the Wesley Foundation at Louisiana Tech where he studied electrical engineering. Devon has a fun-loving, caring, and beautiful soul and we are grateful for the way he shared himself during his time with the Wesley community. He is currently in graduate school at Texas A&M continuing his studies in electrical engineering. We are confident that he will bring light wherever he goes.

Devon Dollahon

Devon Dollahon is an alumnus of the Wesley Foundation at Louisiana Tech where he studied electrical engineering. Devon has a fun-loving, caring, and beautiful soul and we are grateful for the way he shared himself during his time with the Wesley community. He is currently in graduate school at Texas A&M continuing his studies in electrical engineering. We are confident that he will bring light wherever he goes.

Joy is a Missional Necessity by The Wesley

“Joy is a missional necessity.” Director, Ryan Ford

What is our mission? What is the thing that sets Christianity apart from everything else? What makes the submission of your whole self to its teachings worthwhile? In short, the answer is Jesus. He entered the womb of a virgin, dwelt among humanity, and ultimately sacrificed himself to pay the debt incurred by our sin. As his disciples, we are proclaiming the glory of the life he lived and the salvation that is available to every person through his death and resurrection. He commissioned us to live on this earth and scatter the seeds of the kingdom - his words of life. There is immense beauty in this mission when we consider the magnitude of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. He loves the world as a whole, yes. But, he also loves us on an individual, deeply intimate level. He sees our goodness, delighting in it. He loves us just the same in our badness, in the darkness of our thoughts. We do not disgust him or scare him. He formed us in our mother’s womb and called us by name before we ever had a chance to earn his devotion. 

It is this revelation of Divine love that serves as the initial motivation for our evangelism. It lends an authenticity that keeps us from becoming fake. If we had no personal experience of the love of God we would have no sense of responsibility to tell people. We tell people about Jesus because he’s healed our hearts, and when you find a good thing, a truly good thing, you want others to understand it. Just as it is impossible to have a genuine mission without love, it is impossible to have a sustainable mission without joy. Joy is the thing that engenders perseverance and commitment. When you look forward to doing something, it never matters how exhausted you are. You’ll keep doing that thing. No matter how hard it gets, you will press on, knowing that the work is good and valuable. Joy is what separates vibrant evangelism from lifeless laboring. It is still possible to do all of the “good” things - form new connections, extend invitations, foster spiritual conversations - and do them with consistency and faithfulness, but totally lack any grasp of how magnificent the mere opportunity to tell others of Jesus is. At that point, the harvesting ceases to be a celebration and reduces to nothing more than an obligation to be dispassionately fulfilled, which will inevitably lead to feelings of resentment and irritation when the effort doesn’t prove to be immediately profitable.

At the end of the day, joy is a missional necessity because it is the outward, evangelistic expression of the knowledge that we are loved by a God who stepped out of eternity into time and space to be nearer to the brokenhearted. Not only did he write our names in the heavens, but he steadily calls all of creation to himself. It is a privilege that we get to participate in this calling, and we should approach it with unbridled fervor. The goodness of Jesus is worth shouting over. It’s worth dancing over. As the psalmist said, 

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. [Psalm 4:7

We are given an invitation to step into an incomprehensible, unexplainable joy. It exceeds anything and everything that could be offered in opposition because it is anchored in the cross of Christ. His love knows no bounds, so let our joy know no end.

Bekah Beck   Bekah is a devoted follower of Christ and member of The Wesley. After serving on the Mexico Mission team, she reflects on the embodiment of joy as both gift and evangelistic. Bekah is a true blessing to our community and the Church.

Bekah Beck

Bekah is a devoted follower of Christ and member of The Wesley. After serving on the Mexico Mission team, she reflects on the embodiment of joy as both gift and evangelistic. Bekah is a true blessing to our community and the Church.

MEXICO 2019 by The Wesley

It is with such gratitude and praise we share this video of our Mexico Mission, which was taken in a 1 second a day format, and highlights just a glimpse of the joy, hope, and love of the Lord experienced there.

The Wesley's team of 16 students and staff served alongside beautiful Church bodies in Mexico in May-June 2019.

Mexico Mission Update! by The Wesley

Hello Friends and Family,

Our time in Mexico has been a wonderful experience for the entire team. This past week we spent time in Cuauhtemoc, and upon arrival we were greeted by Reverend Esaul. We traveled for the majority of the week, going to mountain villages, visiting the natives, and going to elementary schools to visit the kids.

Among all the things that we witnessed while in Cuauhtemoc, the one thing we were most grateful for were the four teenage boys who traveled with us: Jesús, Oscar, Carlos, and Caesar. Growing up, these young men have had a hard life. They’ve lost family members, have felt as if they had no one in their life, and been influenced by others to take drugs. But, through the church and the guidance of Rev. Esaul, they were able to find a family, a father, and God. Their lives have been completely transformed by the love of Christ and His people. These boys didn’t know who we were when they met us close to 11 PM at the Chihuahua airport last Wednesday night, but by the end of the week, we had become life-long friends.

During out time there, Rev. Esaul led us and the boys to different villages across the mountains of Chihuahua to bring the Gospel to the Tarahumara people. They are the natives of this region of Mexico. They are very poor, looked down on, and often mistreated by the cartels and the government. They live in remote places in the mountains where the families struggle to have common necessities such as food, education, and medicine. Rev. Esaul cannot make trips there often. For example, one of the villages we visited he had not been to in over two years, and no other missionaries had come in at least 10 years. We also visited a school and an orphanage for the Tarahumarans where we played games with the children and taught them stories from the Bible. The teachers and students were so excited to see us and asked if we could return in future years to stay longer and help teach English as well. In the last place we visited we had communion next to a river with some Tarahumara children from one of the poorest areas. Partaking of the sacrament in the beauty of God’s creation with three different cultures represented was an amazing experience. At each location we gave candy and toys to the children, and we did our best to show them that God loves them, that He cares for them, and that they matter immensely. Rev. Esaul told us that the best place to plant seeds for the Gospel is in children, and his love for them was inspiring and contagious. It has been a blessing to be a part of his ministry here, and we fervently hope to continue to help him in coming years.

I pray that the body of Christ will be like the church we went to. That we can show love openly to everyone. If Rev. Esaul had not been faithful to God, the boys would still be lost and broken and the villages we went to would have virtually no contact with the Gospel. God’s love belongs to everyone and we cannot choose who we give it to.

We are so thankful to all the pastors and people we meet who have been faithful to the Word of God and have welcomed us with open arms. Please continue to pray for us as we only have five days left in the beautiful country of Mexico.

Dios te bendiga (God Bless You),

The Wesley Mission Team

Mexico Mission Update! by The Wesley

Mexico has continued to be a place of fulfillment and wonderful joy this week. Our team feels like a family and the care and encouragement we show to each other daily has been beautiful to witness and experience. We support each other through the difficult portions of the trip, whether those moments are feelings of homesickness, exhaustion, or whatever new challenges the day may bring. We have been able to give and receive so much love with people here and to enjoy what each of us brings to make this team a blessing to us and others. The Spirit of the Lord is moving through us and through our brothers and sisters in every place we’ve visited.

Once we returned from Saltillo, we spent a few more days with the Church in San Andreas, Monterrey. Playing with the kids again was so sweet, and the closeness we’ve grown in with the community there truly touches us. It’s been especially encouraging seeing the real connections we’ve made with the adults and families of the church through that ministry, and Rev. Martín has thanked us for the life we are helping to bring to the neighborhood. We’ve painted some of the chapel building, but the real changes we’ve seen go much deeper. Moments like when we walked around the neighborhood and prayed for strangers were sincere instances of connection that transcend language difficulties, and some of our team members were even able to help teach a girl who came with us how to pray. The tears she shed and the fears she shared were reminders that God can work in someone when we least expect it. It was hard leaving them again but we will return to San Andreas once more before the mission ends.

Last Friday we left for Río Bravo and stayed three days with Rev. Elizabeth and her husband Jesús at San Esteban Anglican Church. We knew we were welcome the moment we stepped off the bus as Elizabeth hugged and kissed each of us. They are a loving couple who selflessly give to the poor of their community and their testimonies moved us deeply. It has been so reassuring to meet people who are giving everything for the Gospel and have overcome tremendous sorrow to gain lasting joy. We spent most of Saturday helping with the children’s retreat they hosted at the church. It was a beautiful time of teaching and connecting with the children; and we helped paint their new building. Being able to help a community that has experienced violence and hurt in the form of organized crime over recent years was an incredible opportunity. Elizabeth is intently motivated to reach the children there and told us repeatedly how important it is to have examples of faithful youth there for the children.

We loved our time there, and were sad to go but the last couple of days in Monterrey have been restful and fun for the team as we have celebrated birthdays and prepared for our travel to Chihuahua. In Chihuahua we will meet Padre Esaul and begin the work of ministry to communities in his area and the villages of natives who have been overlooked and ostracized. We are excited for this next step in our journey, and we hope you will continue to pray for us and the new people we meet!

Mexico Mission Testimony by The Wesley

Friends and Family,

We have been in Mexico for a week and a half, and are loving living with the church members we are serving alongside. This past weekend, our team went to the beautiful city of Saltillo. When we arrived at the bus station we were greeted by Padre Victor, Priest at the Anglican Church of the Nativity in Saltillo. During our time there, our team stayed in the homes of different families of the congregation, allowing us to be immersed in their lives while serving alongside them in their ministry. This weekend held so many miracles and chances of healing for the team. Through our host families we witnessed the unconditional love of Christ which binds families together and unites them us the Church. They did not only show this love to each other but to us as well. When we arrived they showered us with the love and affection of brothers and sisters - love that we didn’t have to work for but that was freely given. They understood that the love they have is the love of God that belongs to all nations, transcends all languages, and will never run out.

To better understand what these families meant to us, here is an entry from the journal of one of our team members, Maegan, upon leaving Saltillo:

I have cried a lot today. Mexico is such beauty. Beauty is lavished in the faces of people here who are so ready to welcome us into their hearts, their homes, their lives. I treasure the moments I spent in Saltillo. They changed my life forever. I am wearing the beautiful earrings my Tia Mary gave me. She taught me to make her ‘huevos deliciosos’ this morning. Tio Jose left early this morning. I see one of his company’s trains pass and wonder if he is the conductor. I used to say that you can’t love someone only knowing them three days. I don’t think that anymore. These strangers have become my family. They truly showed me how love crosses all borders, all races, all languages, all countries. We are bound together in the love of God. We have this bond because we came into the relationship with the intention of pouring God’s love out on each other. What if we did that with everyone? What kind of bonds would we make? Many people said today that its not ‘goodbye’, but ‘see you later’. I would go even further than that. We are never away from them. I have Jose with me every time I sing one of the songs he taught me. I have Mary with me every time I make the food she taught me to cook, or when I wear her earrings. Every time I hold a baby I will have Dante and Effi and Luna with me. But most importantly, every time we are with God we are with them because we share the Spirit of God that is within us. Every time we participate in Holy Eucharist we become one with Christ and one with each other-- one with the people of Saltillo. We are one of them. They are one of us. Por los siglos de los siglos. (Forever and Ever)

Peace be to God,

The Wesley Mission Team

Mexico Mission Update by The Wesley

We have only been in Mexico for three days but it has felt like a lifetime for us. Our first week will be spent serving with a church in Monterrey, San Andres, where we have already been welcomed with incredible hospitality by their pastor, Martín, and many others. Those of us who served on last year’s Mexico mission team were grateful to see familiar faces. The students inserted themselves into the work and were unafraid of what was to come, regardless of whether they were part of last year’s mission or not. Our days at San Andres are filled with laughter and smiles as we play with the children. Even in the frustration of the language barrier we are still giving it our all, whether that is playing soccer with a bottle cap, painting on paper plates, climbing up trees, or simply being humbly taught by a child the language of their people. The kids do not know most of the people on our team but they are giving themselves fully and joyfully over to us and are welcomed guides in our new surroundings. It is our hope that we can continue to do the same for them.

While at San Andres, we have had the privilege of attending one of their church services. Martín was our preacher and he did the service in both English and Spanish. It was beautiful to see the ways in which our team participated in the liturgy. Many of us read prayers in Spanish and one of our teammates even helped serve communion.

Martín preached on John 14 in which Jesus preaches those who love Him will keep His word. During the service he asked us a question: If you saw Jesus Christ walking down the mountain with his cross would you help him? If we truly love God with all of our heart then we will care for his people well, every person of every place and status. In Christ we know everyone we meet has His image in them, and we are together with all people, one Body, one family. I pray that my team continues to see Christ in Mexico’s people, for they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and our mission is for them.

Though it would be more than understandable for the people of Mexico to be hesitant toward we North Americans, they have instead been warmly hospitable to us. Our brothers and sisters here have invited us into their homes and to share meals at their tables. Even more generously, they have trusted us with the safety of their children. I pray that in return we can care for them well and honor them as they honor us with trust and respect. I pray that while we are here we can embody a faithful, fully-Christlike alternative to the ambivalence, fear, and hostility that too often characterizes North Americans’ disposition toward our Mexican neighbors. I pray that we can love them in the ways that Christ loves us. I pray that when we see Christ carrying his cross down a mountain we will go and help.

Dios te bendiga (God bless you)

From the Wesley’s Mission team  

STORM UPDATE FROM THE WESLEY by The Wesley

A little before 2am, Thursday, April 25th, I awoke to our power shutting off, and a raging storm outside our home. Gathering up flashlights, I checked my phone for the time and noticed missed Emergency Alerts warning of a tornado in my area until 2:15am. One room in our home is adorned in large bay windows stretching across the wall facing our backyard. As lightning flashed I could see the trees shaking violently, and the chaos of rain beating down. It wasn’t until 5am we were alerted of the true state of emergency. In the dark of the morning, I drove to The Wesley Foundation, having to maneuver around downed trees and power lines. Debris filled the streets, especially once I approached campus. The Wesley building, however, was untouched. I stood for a moment there in the dark, listening to sirens and the sound of water splashing off tires as they drove by. For a moment, all was dark and calm and quiet. After an hour of finding my way on streets cleared of trees and debris, I arrived at a home where three students of the Wesley laid, on couches and air mattresses, visibly shaken and exhausted. I listened to them tell me how they had woken to their roof being ripped off their home, one waking just to see a large limb pierce her ceiling, jutting right over the head of her bed. The three scrambled to find their hiding cat, and ventured into the streets which were now rivers of trees to be brought to a safe home. We cried and prayed and finally, learned soon of fatalities mere blocks away from their home. Still, it wasn’t until daybreak any of us knew what we were dealing with.  

Driving - or attempting to drive - through Ruston that morning I continually exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!” Home after home, now I know a whopping 1,300 homes at least, were utterly destroyed by winds and trees. Buildings and businesses simply gone, a pile of twisted metal and glass. Brick walls torn down as though they had just melted away. Houses blown off their foundations. Mid-morning, after hours of damage intake, overwhelming scenes of destruction and loss, I stood in a street of trees, the noise of people and chainsaws and sirens still all around, but all went still again it seemed.

Mightier than the thunders of many waters,

   mightier than the waves of the sea,

   the Lord on high is mighty!

[Psalm 93:4]

It makes little sense to me that these verses came to mind. It makes little sense when staring at the force which twisted trees out of their rooted ground, which flung entire buildings backwards, and which stripped brick wall bare, how the Lord is mighty--mightier. Yet that chorus rang through my mind all day.

I saw the Lord’s might that Thursday, not solely in the wielding of winds, thunder and lightning. Not only in his ordering them to cease and to go no further, to do no further damage than was made. I saw the Lord’s might not even in non-literal comparison, the hopeful and even faithful declaration of knowledge that He is mightier still than this tornado. I saw the Lord’s might in drones of people, mostly Christians, responding to their neighbors grief and needs. I saw in no small measure that the people of God are a force to be reckoned with, and the church, though at times idle and silent and still, still has a lot of fight and life left in her. Thousands of ordinary Christians took the lead in establishing teams to aid in the recovery efforts of homes, business, and campus. Thousands of Christians put aside differences of denominations, political opinions, race, gender, and the like. They stood hand in hand in the yard of a neighbor-- mostly neighbors they had never met or known-- and prayed. They gave up their resources to ensure others didn’t go without. Food business and groups took to the streets with meals for first responders. By lunch-time Thursday more alumni and out of town Christians asked how to help than I had places or needs to yet put them. Hundreds came to a volunteer meeting at a local church, city officials included. City officials looked to the church, because the church did not wait for permission to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Miles of tree-covered streets were cleared in a matter of hours. Trees as big around as 4-5 feet were removed from homes with small chain saws and a multitude of able-bodied friends. Homes were opened up to welcome the refugee. Without sermon or charge, the Church embodied the Church. We became to ourselves the sermon, the witness, the proof that, though illogical as it seems, “Mightier...is the Lord.”

By Friday, the three students whose home was destroyed were moved into a new home. Their cat was sleeping in tempered sunlight on the foot of one of their beds. Their fridge and pantry was full of gifted food. Paintings were going up on the wall. By Friday evening, staff and students were in the midst of the damaged, electricity-less LA Tech apartments serving burgers and providing a space of laughter, joy, and feeding hungry bellies. Saturday thousands gathered to serve once again.

The Lord has shaped the Body of believers at Wesley to preach with their lives the sermon they displayed this past week. The sermon which proclaims to the desperate, needy and hopeless, “Mightier is the Lord.” Dozens of ordinary students, gathered around the Table on Friday morning; they took the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Together we prayed the Lord would make us be for the world the Church. I smiled that morning knowing we already are being for the world the Church. And by living it out we are becoming it, more and more.

Thank each of you for your care, prayers, and concern for our Wesley community last week. We are deeply thankful and deeply loved.


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Update by Kaiti Lammert, Associate Director of The Wesley Foundation on May 1st, 2019