November 21, 2016
After nearly two years of service as the bishop of a young single adult (YSA) ward in Rexburg, Idaho, I still appreciate that I need all the help I can get in ministering to my ward. And because of my opportunity to serve in this capacity, I feel I understand now — more than ever — the power BYU-Pathway can have in building the kingdom of God.
My YSA ward is one of four in Rexburg that specifically serves singles who are not attending Brigham Young University-Idaho. In other words, my ward is comprised of individuals who are perfectly suited for BYU-Pathway. To date, 18 members of my ward have participated in the program, and watching their journey has been inspiring.
As I’ve pondered on the blessings of BYU-Pathway from my perspective as a bishop, I want to share seven specific benefits I’ve witnessed.
BYU-Pathway Builds Testimonies
The first objective of BYU-Pathway is to get the gospel down into students’ hearts, and every aspect of the program is designed to do just that. From religious instruction to gospel principles that are interwoven through the academic curriculum to weekly gatherings that provide students a friendly and enriching learning environment — testimonies are strengthened and faith is deepened. A student even said to me, “I never thought I’d bear testimony in a math class, but I did, and it felt great.”
BYU-Pathway Teaches Self-reliance
The first class PathwayConnect students take is called Life Skills. An emphasis is placed on preparing to lead and support families along with goal setting, time management, and budgeting — all excellent tools for young adults to begin charting their future, and great reminders for our older students, too.
BYU-Pathway is a Leadership Preparation Tool
I visited a PathwayConnect gathering one night when a member of my ward was the “lead student” — the person tasked with facilitating the week’s lesson discussion. I watched as this young man led with confidence and support from his peers, and I later noticed that his experience in PathwayConnect helped him become more involved in his Sunday church meetings as well as serve more confidently in his calling.
BYU-Pathway Helps Young Men and Women Prepare to Serve Missions
I have now sent two PathwayConnect completers out on missions. When they arrived in our ward, both were unsure of where life was going to take them. I believe PathwayConnect gave them focus and direction, which prepared the foundation of their decisions to serve full-time missions.
BYU-Pathway Requires Students to Attend Institute
I love that young adults must attend institute and study the Book of Mormon and the doctrines of Christ as a required part of their participation in BYU-Pathway. This pattern propels them forward with increased spiritual guidance through the challenges of young life.
BYU-Pathway is a Rescue and Reactivation Tool
One particular young woman moved into our ward after she had completed one semester of PathwayConnect. She told me that she had been completely inactive before starting the program and that her main motivation for enrolling was to get a “cheap” education (her words, not mine). But what she did not realize was that a conversion was taking place (my words, not hers). Because PathwayConnect does not require a student to be endorsed by a local Church leader as living the gospel, I have found the program to be a tool in reaching out to other less-active members of my ward to help them get back on a path to discipleship.
Pathway is a Social Program
Let’s face it, some young single adults need to interact with others a little more. PathwayConnect’s weekly gatherings provide the perfect combination of personal growth and social interaction and have produced lasting friendships and even a recent wedding proposal!
As I consider the remarkable growth and success of the students we serve, I am humbled by the efforts of so many people who make this great work possible: our students, support teams, service missionaries, online and institute instructors, local priesthood leaders, financial donors, and many more. Thank you for all you do to support BYU-Pathway and extend its reach around the world.