MNU Experience Prepares Alum for More Than He Dreamed
When Kevin Liddle (’12) and his wife Ashley (’12) were asked to coffee by their former pastor John Marra (‘80) of Olathe Living Hope Church of the Nazarene, they assumed it was just to catch up since they had recently moved back to the area from Colorado. They were surprised to learn that a meeting over coffee would lead to an opportunity for ministry and a new career.
The Liddles had moved to Colorado to be near family and pursue life after graduation. Kevin was putting his organizational leadership degree to use as manager of a Waterway Car Wash. With a BSN, Ashley was applying for jobs but so far had not found success. After much prayer they decided that Ashley should apply for positions in other states.
“We prayed about what to do, and God told us that she should apply in another state,” Liddle says. “So she applied in Oklahoma and Kansas, and within one week of applying, she got a RN job at Shawnee Mission Medical Center working in the NICU.”
While the move back to Kansas allowed Ashley to put her nursing degree to use in her dream job, it left Kevin looking for a new job. Naturally he assumed a business or management position would be ideal.
Living Hope had been their church home during college so they resumed attending there and Kevin began volunteering as a sponsor for Living Hope’s youth group. Over coffee Marra presented an idea to Kevin.
“We got to talking about what God had been doing in our lives and how I was still waiting patiently for a new job,” Liddle says, “when he explained that the church potentially had a job opportunity for me as the executive director of their BRIDGES sports ministry program. I was very excited about the opportunity because not only was it a job in which my organizational leadership degree would apply, but it was also involved in sports.”
BRIDGES, which stands for Building Relationships Intentionally that Develop Gifts and Encourage Service, is a volunteer-led community sports program that offers NFL Flag football, cheerleading and soccer programs to 5-12 year-old boys and girls, as well as an outdoor volleyball season for teens and adults on summer nights.
In later conversations the job offer took another turn as Liddle was asked by Marra to consider being the church’s youth group leader.
“I was shocked and asked him, ‘You know I was a business major, not a ministry major right?’ He laughed and asked me to pray about it. I did and God kept showing me that this was where He wanted me,” says Liddle.
Now he ministers to 6th through 12th graders weekly in addition to directing the BRIDGES program. Kevin, who played baseball at MNU, enjoys the chance to continue in athletic endeavors. While the dual responsibilities keep him busy, his management skills help him juggling commitments. He credits his education at MNU in part for preparing him for the job.
“My MNU experience was great preparation for my position. The business professors went over and above to prepare me to succeed in management in the real world. I know that they not only cared about my education, but my personal life as well,” says Liddle. “The MNU culture is special. My faith became stronger as God showed me who I was in Him and that He has a plan for me. All I had to do was surrender to Him and be obedient.
In addition, working as a resident assistant in the dorms gave Liddle valuable experience which prepared him to work with his youth group. Kevin says walking through life with the teens is a privilege. It wasn’t how he envisioned using his degree, but it is where he thinks he’s been heading for a long time.
“It wasn't even on my radar, but it is amazing how God has been equipping me and what He has done with our teens. There have been many times during the process where I wasn't sure how to plan a mission trip or what to speak on for our youth group night, but God has been faithful and has shown me exactly what He wants to say to the teens,” says Liddle.
His relationship with MNU isn’t just in the past. Liddle says he wants to build a partnership between Living Hope and MNU to provide his teens with opportunities to connect with the campus and the faculty. Both Kevin and Ashley are thrilled to be able to keep connected to their alma mater.
“It is a very special opportunity to be where I am,” says Liddle. “Being in a job that is so fulfilling and being so close to the best university in the world, I feel that God has blessed me with so much.”