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Mar 27, 2024 | Blog

By: Rev. Rich Vasquez, Class of 2002 

As I look back on my life, it has been easy to see how God led me to NNU. Over my lifetime, it was not as easy at times to see that path clearly. I grew up in Colorado Springs, CO, and I was a part of Trinity Church of the Nazarene where Pastor Borger and Pastor Bergland created an atmosphere for me to see and receive a call in my life to serve in ministry. I belonged to a great church with adults and pastors who spoke into my life. Growing up, my dad was an alcoholic, and our family learned to get by with that fact. He was very supportive of us and encouraged our involvement in our church. Although I have a deep Nazarene heritage, this doesn’t determine my own personal walk with God. My grandfather was saved while being held in a German POW camp in World War II. When he was freed from captivity, he completed the course of study and became a Nazarene minister. His daughter, my mother, was raised in the Church of the Nazarene and has been a model of faith in my life. Sadly, my grandparents were killed in a car accident while serving as pastor of the Green River, Wyoming Church of the Nazarene.

In high school, I thought I would work on cars and attend a trade school after graduation. It was when I was in high school during my junior year that I was called to ministry at Golden Bell Camp in Divide, Colorado. I wasn’t sure what my next steps would be in my journey to become a minister, but I knew I needed an education, so I set my eyes toward NNU. I worked for a year after high school and then packed up and moved to Nampa to attend NNU. I only knew a few people in Nampa at that time, and I spent the next year working and saving money. I decided to enroll while visiting NNU during New Student Orientation, and Stacey Berggren, Barry Swanson and Toby Schmidt helped me jump in. I was supporting myself through college and tried working full-time while attending full-time. My grades fell, and I finished my freshman year in rough shape. I was mad at myself and God because I thought I belonged at NNU. I enrolled in some summer school classes to increase my GPA and continued my career in logistics management working during the tech boom of the 90s. I was able to work for a company that offered to pay for the majority of my education if I were to major in Business. At the time, NNU had just started an accelerated Business bachelor’s degree program that allowed me to work during the day and go to school at night. This was before the online degree era. I also completed the course of study in the Church of the Nazarene and met and married my wife, Jennifer Luhn (Class of ‘97). We were both ordained in 2006 and have served together in ministry at the Canyon Hill Church of the Nazarene in Caldwell, ID, for the last 22 years.

I felt like I belonged at NNU when I was a student there. I really believe that God wanted me there and provided people in my life to help and encourage me. God has used the trials in my own life to help others. As a pastor and chaplain, I have been able to help people as they journey through life dealing with pain and sorrow. Some would say I was one of those students who probably wouldn’t make it through college. For the last 12 years, I have served at NNU in a few roles in the Undergraduate Admissions Office. Now, I am able to help students like myself get to NNU. I’m able to help them assimilate into a place of belonging and love where they can be a part of a great University with a mission to build students up and grow them into Christ-like disciples.

My relationship with God has had many ups and downs as I look at my life. God was always there, even when I had doubts. Over the years, my faith has developed, and I credit my fellowship in a church, the Christian education that I received at two Nazarene universities and the ministry opportunities I have had as a staff member in the Church of the Nazarene. My wife and I love serving God and are obedient to serving as pastors. I have served in various other roles in the Church of the Nazarene as Intermountain District NYI President for 18 years, Northwest Field NYI Coordinator for 8 years and as a Chaplain with the Idaho State Police for 12 years. We have three great children and love serving in the Church of the Nazarene.

Students are looking for a place where they belong. I enjoy sharing my story and how God has used the Church of the Nazarene, NNU and my call to ministry to allow me to use my gifts to help others. I believe in the mission of the Church of the Nazarene. When you look back on how our denomination loved and helped those that others wouldn’t, that is where I want to be. NNU helped build me into a pastor that cares for and loves the lost and broken. I don’t belong to a polarized right or left; I belong in the middle, helping everyone God puts in my life. Everyone needs to hear the Good News, and NNU is producing great students who will be God’s redemptive agents in our world.

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