By Angela Berg – Collegedale, Tennessee … In 2016, Campion Academy transformed their student-led week of prayer into a student-led evangelistic series for the community. The students voted for peers they wanted to lead the series, and Xander Assa was among those selected. Xander thought it was a cool opportunity. Little did he realize it would change his life.

The series was called “Wildfire Evangelism.” Students selected to preach were mentored by a pastor who helped them prepare for the series. Xander, a member of the Colorado Indonesian-American Seventh-day Adventist Church, was mentored by Pastor Nestor Soriano.

One night, when Xander preached, he made an appeal for baptism and eight people came forward. Afterward, Pastor Soriano told Xander, “I think God may be calling you to be a pastor.” As Xander passed the next two summers doing colporteur work, other people said the same, but he still wasn’t sure.

During his freshman year of college, he started out as a nursing major, but felt himself yearning for the ministry he had known before. Hearing that Southern Adventist University had an excellent theology program, he transferred as a theology major. He also joined the Soul-winning And Leadership Training (SALT) program, which is a partnership between Southern and It Is Written. The 16-week program is founded on the understanding that God’s followers are called to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:14).

“After classwork, we worked in the community, going door to door and finding Bible-study contacts,” Xander remembers. “Toward the end of the semester, we held a large evangelistic series, and we all brought our Bible-study contacts to that series. It was really special.”

Xander also started a small group called “Jesus and Me.” He had heard a lot about the daily challenges his male friends were facing, and he wanted to create a safe space where they could study God’s word and be real with each other about their struggles.

“I was amazed to see how my friends’ lives changed over that year of being immersed in Bible study together,” Xander says. “We all grew so much, and several of them wanted to become resident assistants in the dorm the next year because they thought it would be a great opportunity to minister to others.”

As Xander’s junior year approached, he grew a little nervous because he needed to find an internship. When he approached the Collegedale Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church, he was astonished that they offered him an associate pastor position. In his heart, that confirmed for him that he was following God’s will for his life. This December, Xander will graduate from Southern, and he is excited to take the next big step attending seminary.

“If people do not have Jesus, they have nothing,” he says. “Jesus gives people life and true freedom. Wherever God places me, my goal is to lead more people to Christ.”

Angela Berg graduated from Southern Adventist University in 2006 with a history degree.  She currently teaches preschool in Chattanooga, Tennessee; photo supplied