March 31, 2022
Most BYU-Pathway Worldwide students face significant barriers to education: time-consuming family and work responsibilities, past failures, financial challenges, insufficient access to technology, and so on. And yet, these students exercise extraordinary faith as they step into the unknown, hoping that earning a degree will bless their life. And it does! Not just with better jobs and marketable skills, but with miracles like strengthened faith, family relationships, leadership experiences, and confidence.
As students participate in BYU-Pathway’s courses, which bring together both secular and spiritual learning, they draw the power of Jesus Christ into their lives. They learn skills and earn certificates on the way to a degree that help them get jobs. And as students grow, so does their capacity to lead as disciples in their families, church, and community — creating an influence that will impact generations of Heavenly Father’s children.
Hastening the work by empowering the “hidden many”
While BYU-Pathway Worldwide has a similar mission to other Church Educational System institutions — to develop disciple leaders of Jesus Christ — it has been uniquely developed to operate wherever the Church is organized and to serve the “hidden many,” or those who might otherwise struggle to access traditional higher education.
The Lord said, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time”1 — and He is! Even with a global pandemic, BYU-Pathway has grown to serve more than 57,000 students annually from 188 countries.
Of the “hidden many,” BYU-Pathway President Brian Ashton said, “These are people who Heavenly Father will bless for their efforts and who will become some of the best students in the world. They will see miracles in their lives.”
Nikki Maxon, for example, grew up in a divorced home and struggled with self-doubt, which ultimately led to her flunking out of university. After meeting a family of faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she chose to get baptized and began a bumpy, beautiful journey to know the Savior.
“In a strange twist of fate,” Nikki said, “I found out I was pregnant right after I was baptized. A wave of conflicting emotions crashed over me all at once, leaving me in what felt like an impossible situation.”
As a new mom and convert, Nikki realized she would need a degree and marketable skills in order to provide for her daughter. She started attending university but, after meeting her husband and growing their family, she dropped out — until she discovered BYU-Pathway.
“Service missionaries shared how the courses were designed to be affordable, flexible, and supportive of other important priorities in life. It was a eureka moment!” Nikki said. “The most important part was the education I received about Jesus Christ. I had always had faith, but my time at BYU-Pathway solidified my knowledge of the gospel.”
Today, Nikki is sealed to her husband and three children in the temple. She completed a BYU-Idaho bachelor’s degree through BYU-Pathway and is now earning a degree from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, which she hopes to use to empower others to pursue their goals. Nikki overcame her personal barriers to education, but her miracle came as she discovered her divine worth.
She said, “I now know what it means to be a daughter of God, how much He loves me, and my capacity to grow into the person He knows I can be.”
For Nikki and the other “hidden many,” having access to online, low-cost, spiritually based education through BYU-Pathway is life changing. Elder Clark G. Gilbert, Commissioner of the Church Educational System, said, “One of the miracles of BYU-Pathway is that it allows chances for learning everywhere in this Church. It’s impossible for me to think of a church whose head is the Savior Jesus Christ, that wouldn’t find a way to do that. BYU-Pathway is an answer and a miracle in that constraint.”
But perhaps the greatest miracle of all is the spiritual growth students experience. President Ashton said, “Education is about change, and change is about repentance. We’re not just in the business of education. We’re in the business of bringing souls unto Jesus Christ through education.”
“God is … [gathering] His Church by building capacity and leadership through education all across the world. It’s a miracle to behold.”
Building disciple leaders who have faith in Christ
BYU-Pathway students take courses that help them develop life, professional, and university skills, while simultaneously learning about the Savior. For example, the first lesson of PC 102: Professional Skills teaches, “As you have felt Christ change your heart and witnessed the blessings of being His disciple, you’ve probably desired to help others have the same experience.” This intentionally designed curriculum helps students become disciple leaders and increases their capacity to hasten the Lord’s work.
Victoria Nduva is a student from Kenya and a mother of six children. With the chaos of raising a large family, she never felt confident in her ability to earn a degree. But BYU-Pathway was just what she needed.
She learned how to effectively manage her time and finances and how to create a CV (or resume), which helped her to get a job and boost her confidence. As part of her bachelor’s degree from BYU-Idaho, supported by BYU-Pathway, she learned organization skills that have helped her to not only become a better professional but also a better spouse and parent.
Victoria shared, “As a mother, I’ve been blessed because now I can organize my children, be organized in my callings in Church, and participate more in community activities.”
As Victoria grows as a disciple leader, she’s found ways to hasten the work of salvation by sharing what she’s learning with the young women she serves in her church calling. She said, “I’ve started advertising BYU-Pathway for my girls and sharing what I’ve learned with them, helping them to set goals, prepare for missions, and become future leaders.”
“BYU-Pathway has been like a refresh button,” Victoria said. “I feel like I am born again. I’ve come to realize that I can do much more than I thought I could do.”
Nickson Amon, from the neighboring country of Tanzania, is a branch president, a convert to the Church, and a BYU-Pathway student. He originally enrolled to support his wife and daughter, who were also taking courses.
He found that BYU-Pathway has blessed not only his own life but also the lives of those he serves. Nickson said, “BYU-Pathway has motivated me and taught me what it means to be a more Christlike leader. … All these things have added value to my leadership in the branch.”2
As Nickson has grown as a leader, he has worked to find resources, including secondhand laptops, so other members of the branch can also discover the blessings of education and go on to build up future generations.
Christ is laboring with us
For students like Nikki, Victoria, and Nickson, BYU-Pathway empowered them to improve their lives, and their examples of disciple leadership will pave the way for others to follow (see page 4). As students influence current and future generations to turn toward the Savior, BYU-Pathway — and Christ’s gospel — will continue to spread throughout the world, with the Lord laboring alongside BYU-Pathway and its students.
Elder Gilbert said, “I fundamentally believe God is preparing the world for the return of the Savior. And part of that is the work He’s doing to gather His Church by building capacity and leadership through education all across the world. It’s a miracle to behold.”3