MSFL Testimonials

As a busy mother of four young children and children’s ministry director, the last thing I could imagine myself doing was returning to school. Yet, I couldn’t escape the nagging sense that I was becoming a very tired servant. Often I wondered what sort of message I was sending to others with my frenetic behavior and continual commitments. My journey with MSFL enabled me to sort out the difference between how I presented myself to the world and how I truly lived in my own soul. Amidst the academic rigor of the program, I found myself in the same boat with a small cohort that quickly became our soul companions. The MSFL curriculum was the pathway God gave me to understand my identity as the Beloved of God – that same gift of belovedness I can now offer to those in my church, in my home and in my community.”
– Amy Palmerton, MSFL

God led me to the MSFL program at just the right time. I was searching for a place to grow in my understanding and experience of spiritual formation in the context of a virtual community. My search led me into conversation with a number of SAU grads who had found just such a place in the MSFL program. I’m hoping this experience will help facilitate my continued transformation while simultaneously preparing me to help others down the road in their own Journeys with God.”
– Mark Beazley, MSFL

What awaited me was a gathering so powerful, so meaningful, that it provided a strong foundation for the trust and intimacy needed for an authentic learning experience permeated by God’s presence. Although the most humble of our 3 locations, it established Spring Arbor as home base and connected us with the larger work of the university.
– Mary Reimer, MSFL Cohort #1

Remembering times of sitting with those who have lived deeply, fellow students wrestling with what it means to be on the Way and practicing the discipline of study are Ebenezer altars. They remind me of God’s work and faithfulness In the midst of swirling cultural, economic and denominational issues. They sustain me when I struggle and doubt.
– Bill Lewis, MSFL Cohort #1

The only thing better than the last residency, is the anticipation of the next one! The word cohort changed to friend and later changed to family, – all within two weeks. Now when I am part of an on-line discussion with my classmates I see their face, hear their voice, pick up on their humor, and feel their heartbeat.
– Steve Newton, MSFL Cohort #2

 

When I share about my experience in the MSFL with friends, family, and acquaintances, I talk primarily about the residencies and the powerful work that God does in the lives of students through them. It is an experience worth having, and I hope others will have the opportunity to have as well.
– Natalie Magnusson, MSFL Cohort #4

Spending time together in Guatemala with my cohort, as well as other MSFL students and faculty, has been the highlight of the program. The power of the spiritual bonds we had began forming with one another through engagement on line was enlarged by our presence to one another in that special place. What a blessing it has been to be together in Christ.
– Mark L. Jarvie, MSFL Cohort #12

For me, the three residencies were the heart of the program. They provided faces, stories, quirks, and souls to the people I had come to know on-line, who will forever more be my family. They provided an incredible opportunity to learn at the feet of the masters of formational thinking and living. Worship was at the center of these times together and re-formed my perception of what corporate worship can be. Residencies are an essential part of the transformation journey that is the MSFL at Spring Arbor.
– Janet Armour Wilson, MSFL Cohort #6

The first residency was very valuable in putting faces and voices to the posts we engage in each week. We spent time in group spiritual direction which allowed us to gain deeper knowledge into who each of our classmates is and where they were journeying with God at that time. After leaving residency I could hear the writers voice each time I read a post. I could see their face behind the words. Each of the residency classes was valuable in the content we were studying but the personal contact with the members of our cohort was precious and added to the deep relationships we now have.
– Jeanne Johnson, MSFL Cohort #8

 

It was not long after graduating from SAU that the Transformational Listening Center was born. Although I’d started the MSFL program with just a vague sense of this being the next step, the things I was exposed to via the program, my cohort, my professors and especially the residencies proved to be the missing pieces of the puzzle. Those pieces are now the foundation from which I am training others to become spiritual directors. TLC is not just focusing on how to listen to others but on being the kind of people with whom others want to share their spiritual journey. The MSFL program is directly responsible for much of what we teach, and do at our school and I will forever be in their debt and grateful to God for leading me there.
– Jeanie Hoover, MSFL Cohort #4

The first residency was very valuable in putting faces and voices to the posts we engage in each week. We spent time in group spiritual direction which allowed us to gain deeper knowledge into who each of our classmates is and where they were journeying with God at that time. After leaving residency I could hear the writers voice each time I read a post. I could see their face behind the words. Each of the residency classes was valuable in the content we were studying but the personal contact with the members of our cohort was precious and added to the deep relationships we now have.
– Valerie E. Hess, Instructor SFL 602

My journey with MASFL was the place where I was able to sort out the difference between how I presented myself to the world and what was truly living in my own soul. Through rigorous academics and an online community of trusted companions, I emerged a more spirit centered Christian woman whose identity continues to be transformed.
– Amy Palmerton, MSFL Cohort #5

I started the term a bit late so I missed the first residency in January. Most of the cohort already had met there but I didn’t get to meet face to face until a year had passed. I was already in significant like with these siblings in Christ. We shared our hearts, our successes, our failures, and the depth of our stories. I found them all amazing. By day two of the residency, I was totally in love with every one of them and to this day each one of them has a huge part of my heart with their name engraved by God’s hand on it. (Our photo from that residency is still on my desk 5 years later and their momentos still give me comfort in my study. The power of that face-to-face encounter just solidified what the heart-to-hearts had been doing on-line. Oh yeah, and Dallas Willard is the most incredible teacher!)
– Joanie Taddeo, MSFL Cohort #2

All three residencies that I participated in showed me more about what the ‘Church’ can be than any other community of faith that I have ever been a part of. As a pastor/leader they inspired me to create space for people to be authentically vulnerable in the presence of Love. I, now, have an unwavering hope that what we all long for in relationship is actually possible.
– Giff Reed, MSFL Cohort #6

My residency experiences were profound. It was, perhaps, the only time in my life when everyone in the room understood what we were all going through. So many different journeys all meeting at this one place, all of us recognizing that the desire to know God and to experience God had led us here. I look back on my three times at residency as the most integral and moving experiences of my life. I miss them dearly and write, even now, with tears in my eyes, remembering the beauty of those moments.
– Mike Hauser, MSFL Cohort #3

Family, creativity, honesty, trust, variety, challenged, beautiful…
– Jenny Leiter, MSFL Cohort #10

Guatemala Residency Testimonials

I went to Guatemala expecting to have my heart broken and it was. What I didn’t expect was such an outpouring of God’s love for me in particular. My view of God has been forever changed.
– Janet Lee, Cohort #11

The Apostle Paul writes, “now we see through a glass dimly, then we shall see face to face” (I Cor 13:12). The Guatemala residency was all about a cleaner window, from which to view the kingdom of God. The surprise was being able to open the window and climb into that Kingdom for a while, experiencing the heart of Christ through the eyes of beauty and brokenness. By the grace of God, my vision is still disoriented, I can’t seem to see the world as I used to!
– Steve Newton, Cohort #12

Student Development Testimonials

I currently am the Director of Service Learning in the Campus Ministry department, a job that I was able to get as a result of my MSFL degree. In this role I work with students, faculty, and staff in areas of justice and service both in the academic and co-curricular setting. The MSFL program allowed me to focus on my passion for justice as it relates to my spirituality. The combination of these two important parts of my life allowed me to get the preparation that I needed to step into my current role. I continually tell my friends, colleagues, and students that they should apply to this program because it has changed my life and I know it will change theirs as well.
– Seth Currier, Cohort 6

As a member of Student Development I am constantly reminded that I am on display before an entire campus. Spiritual Formation, therefore, becomes not just about me…it is a transparent lifestyle of growth and example. The MSFL program at SAU has opened my eyes to the working of God in my life in ways that I had never thought of before. Through my spiritual stretching, God has opened doors of greater impact on the students that I am in community with. Being open to “becoming” in my own life…keeps me patient, compassionate, and celebratory with the process of growth in my students.
– Steve Newton, Cohort 12

Journeying through the MSFL program at SAU has been so eye opening and heart opening. Since spiritual formation is the process of being transformed in to the image of Christ for the sake of others, it lined up perfectly with my Student Development work. My life is forever changed because of what I learned through the program and what I have learned has eternally impacted the vision that I have for my job in Student Development.
– Carrie Williams, Cohort 10