For many high-school graduates, the future is full of promise—along with many options and uncertainties. Some simply enter the workforce. For others, college is an option. Then there are those young people who sense the tug of the Spirit of God on their lives, but aren’t sure how to walk that out in a practical way.
It is that third group of young people for whom Tim Wimberly’s heart beats. In the past 17 years, Tim and his wife, Dhana, have given their lives to developing a ministry of immersion discipleship for young people. Currently, Tim is director of Anthem, a leadership development program whose mission it is to “empower and instruct young adults who are passionate about following Jesus and pursuing lives of meaning and ministry.”
Anthem is one of a dozen Foursquare Emerging Leader Network programs in the U.S. This year, 22 students, three-quarters of whom are from outside the state of Washington, and one of who is from outside the U.S., are enrolled in Anthem, a ministry of Church of Living Water in Olympia, Wash. These young men and women spend nine months immersed in a three-part hands-on training program that features:
- On-the-job ministry training
- Curriculum that includes classes on relationships, finance, Old and New Testament, Scripture memorization and discipleship training
- Personal discipleship
Students are housed with church families, and essentially become part of the family with whom they live. “Our host families are one of the greatest strengths of our program,” Tim said. “Students have the opportunity to be molded and shaped by a family [other than their own], and God uses the students to help the families grow, as well.”
Both students and families undergo a rigorous interview process. “We are intentional about placing students where they will be stretched and grow,” he continued. “We monitor it very closely, through bimonthly host home evaluations.”
At Anthem, students participate in one of six ministry tracks (children’s, youth, worship, pastoral, communications, women’s ministry) provided at Church of Living Water. They also serve at the Foursquare national convention, and take part in a missions trip during the year.
Selected first-year alumni have the opportunity to become interns who assist the Anthem program. Others enroll in college (Life Pacific College offers alumni a two-year online distance learning scholarship) or enter the work world. Many eventually find themselves in full-time ministry.
Like Anthem, most of the ELN programs involve self-discipline and a rigorous schedule. But for those who choose to participate, ELN leaders agree that the benefits are many.
“Anthem is not a program—it’s a lifestyle,” Tim said. “Your whole goal is to please the Lord, honor Him with your life, and make disciples.” Paraphrasing Luke 17:33, he added, “If you choose to die at the beginning, you live at the end!”