What’s the next ministry at Bethel?

Pray First is more than the title of a club; it’s a lifestyle.

By Emily Forster | Royal Report

Sherry Mortenson, speaker, pastor, doctor, teacher and lover of prayer stands at the front of the classroom awaiting the students’ arrival. Pastor Donna Johnson, huffing and puffing, enters the room and says, “My morning has been a morning…Amen?” The Bethel University students shout back an, “Amen!”

Mortenson began her talk, speaking about the character of God, specifically found in the prayer of the Our Father.

Alyssa Sandberg, sophomore, is the leader of Pray First. She explains 25 college students are a part of this ministry. 17 were present at the Pray First meeting in CC430 to hear Mortenson’s talk from 10:20–11 a.m. on Thursday morning.

“I really have a passion for praying with people,” Sandberg said. She wears her green Pray First shirt proudly, attempting to organize the incoming students.

I’ve seen the power of prayer and what He’s done. — Emi Diehl, junior

Mortenson helped to launch Vespers 20 years ago. Vespers, a continually growing community of college students gathering every Sunday evening, creates a space to worship God and pray. Many students from the Twin Cities colleges and universities attend.

“I’ve seen the power of prayer and what He’s done,” junior Emi Diehl said. She continues to tell of the opportunity she has had to see God work on Bethel campus through being a part of Pray First. Through praying with students during Vespers to taking out garbage for the freshmen while also offering prayers, the moments of seeing others grow in their faith are limitless.

Mortenson also helped to initiate Shift, a small group allowing students living in campus housing to further grow in their Christian faith. With the help of the Holy Spirit, she has worked to form many non-profit programs, retreats, and ministries including the college ministry opportunities found at Bethel today.

The students at the Pray First meeting sit on the edge of their chairs, grasping every word and story Mortenson shares. They share looks of longing. They laugh. One student shouts an “Amen!”

What is the next movement on campus? — Mortenson, pastor

They listen to the time she went on prayer walks with her husband. The time she emailed a friend from church at 3 a.m. because she felt the Lord telling her to. The time she was called into George Brushaber’s office, the former Bethel president. The time she didn’t believe that Vespers would have a lasting impact at Bethel.

One challenging question lingers in the air a little while longer than other words spoken. “What is the next movement on campus?” Mortenson asks. It’s been 20 years since Vespers began, and it’s time for the Holy Spirit to work again, in a new way to bring even more students to the love of Christ. “The Lord your God is with you.”