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Scholar uses 'people skills' to help special-needs children

Caring people have always surrounded Jeffery Lindstrom. His parents supported him throughout his academic years while his church family loved him so much he briefly thought about becoming a pastor in The United Methodist Church.

"My parents made it to almost every sports event, concert and assembly," he recalled. "My grandma lived across the street, so she also helped raise my brother, sister and me. Almost every night, we had a home-cooked meal, and conversation around the table was a staple part of the day."

In Jeffery's neighborhood, he said, "you opened your neighbor's front door and then said, 'Knock, knock,' after entering." Jeffery looked forward to each day. "I was excited to wake up each day. and I thought life was the bee's knees."

Like most high school students, Jeffery worried about college. He ended up studying paper engineering at Western Michigan University. "I spent time trying to discern where God was calling me," he said. "The biggest struggle has been to be confident in who I am and not worry so much about what other people think about choices I feel are right.

"I believe," Jeffery continued, "God has some crazy plan that is helping to shape me to be a better servant for him." He hopes to teach special education.

"College has been an incredible experience in helping me to grow academically, as a teacher, and in my character and my faith," he said. "College is very expensive, and the Gift of Hope Scholarship enabled me to continue college and keep loan debt down."

Jeffery's aunt encouraged him to check out the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo, and he is grateful for that. "I have made lifelong friends, found my life partner and rebuilt my foundations on my beliefs in God," he said. "Wesley has given me opportunities to be a leader and to experience ministry in different and new ways."

As the Wesley Foundation's leadership development coordinator, Jeffery's life is full. He planned and led two autumn retreats and recruited people to attend a statewide winter retreat. He also coordinates a spring-break opportunity for students called "Staycation," leads a small group and oversees four other small groups.

His campus pastor told him about the scholarship supported by the United Methodist Student Day offering. "God calls us each in different ways," he said. "Your gifts help students achieve their dreams and goals … on their path to serving the Lord.

"I like to think that as a teacher, I will minister to God's children by helping them to see their potential and be a positive impact on their life."

Jeffery considers every day "a fresh canvas. We do not always have choices of the media or what other people do to mark the canvas," he said, "but we have control over the things we paint. I believe I am helpful, positive and friendly and have the ability to be a positive impact."

Lladale Carey, web content producer, United Methodist Communications

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Student Day calls the church to support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge. The special offering provides scholarships for qualified United Methodist applicants. 

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