Professor believes her students are called to great things

Posted: February 9, 2012

When Susan Wendel was on her knees praying for the youth of this nation, she didn’t expect God to grab her by the hand and lead her to becoming a professor.

Susan and her husband, Bruce Wendel, were living a happy, comfortable life in Alberta as they served the church, surrounded by family and friends.

“We were just having a nice life … but just becoming more restless and feeling this strong sense of calling to something but not sure what it was, though I assumed that it would be a pastor’s wife,” she said.

All along Susan had a caring heart and a burden to pray.

“A burden to pray was strong for me,” she said. “One of the threads of that was praying for young people and praying for the young people of our nation.”

It always seems amazing to me that that’s what I was praying for and now I’m doing something about it. There’s a continuity there.”

The burden to pray has stayed the same—it’s the geography that has changed.

She and Bruce moved their family to Caronport in 1999, where Bruce began to study in the seminary. Susan decided to start taking seminary classes while completing her B. Ed. from the University of Regina.

It didn’t take Susan long to discover her thirst for a better understanding of the Bible.

“It was a process of about a year of realizing that I really loved the study of the Scriptures and wanted to pursue that further.”

Susan graduated from the seminary with a MA in Theological Studies with a major in New Testament in April 2004, and with Bruce’s encouragement, they moved to Hamilton, Ont., so Susan could keep pursuing her passion.

She graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Early Christianity from MacMaster University in 2009.

While studying out east, the Wendels read Briercrest’s new mission statement in an edition of PASSPORT, Briercrest’s alumni magazine.

 “They articulated their mission statement I think about a year after we left and when I read it in a PASSPORT magazine, when we were out in Hamilton, I thought, ‘Yeah that’s exactly what they do.’”

The mission statement is as follows:

“Briercrest College and Seminary is a community of rigorous learning that calls students to seek the kingdom of God, to be shaped profoundly by the Scriptures, and to be formed spiritually and intellectually for lives of service.”

 “That’s what happened to me when I was at Briercrest, and that’s what is continuing to be what my life is about.”

One year into her PhD program, the Wendels didn’t know what they were going to do, but Briercrest’s mission continued to resonate very strongly with them.

They found their way back to Briercrest when Susan was offered a teaching position.

“We just felt called to be here. Called to be here because we felt that who we wanted to be was what people were doing here.”

The burden to pray for her students still hasn’t changed. In fact, it may have grown as she looks to lead her students to live lives of service. She has taught Advanced Biblical Studies, two Greek classes, Hermeneutics, and the Gospels.

She is drawing on God’s strength and prays that God will speak through her as she teaches.

“I think when I walk into the class—almost every class, yeah—I’m afraid I’m new but part of it is this passion for God to work in young people’s lives and so … that’s a strong theme for me that when I’m teaching at the same time I’m praying that God will be at work in their lives and that God will equip them to be lights in their generation.”

She sends up extra prayers for the students in her Greek class, not because she wants to “give people their money’s worth” by pushing them to learn more, but because she believes God has called them to service.

 “There is something about that group—I think they are called to big things.”

The class reads Greek together and then has a devotional based on what they’ve read.

“God has just seemed to be so powerfully present during those times,” she said.

“I can’t think of one particular moment, but maybe a series of moments of calling them to do their ministry, to fulfill their ministry, to do what God’s called them to do. It’s just been so strong over and over again. And in the sense that it is surprising to me what I’m even saying. I don’t think this is me, I think this is God.”

“It has struck me over and over again—just the excitement that I have for what God wants to do through those people.”

It’s an excitement that will be backed by the prayers of a caring professor.