The Experience Magazine Summer 2020

Ministry in the Queen City Interview with Aaron Clark '13 & '14

where are they now?


Recently I was in Washington, D.C. on a business trip, and while out for a run I found myself in front of Constitution Hall. I stopped for a moment and realized my earliest memory of Word of Life was at a rally inside the Hall around 1970. My father, who was the pastor of a local church and knew Jack Wyrtzen, helped organize the event. I enrolled at the Bible Institute in the fall of 1982 after graduating from Colonial Hills Christian High School in Atlanta, Georgia. I enjoyed living with other guys in Turkey Dorm. It was a challenging year of study, reflection, and service. There are so many great memories, but the ones that stand out the most are from singing with the Collegians. It was a privilege traveling up and down the East Coast with the Christmas presentation, staying in people’s homes, and presenting the truth of the Gospel through each performance. We also travelled on the spring Passion Play tour, which was an emotional and spiritual experience of its own as we re-enacted the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Upon graduation I transferred to Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, and had three wonderful years of challenging growth and development. Most importantly, I met Claudia Ciciliani from Guatemala and fell head-over-heels for her sincere love for the Lord and zest for life. I describe her as “5-foot, Hispanic, and bubbly”... and if you ever meet her, I am sure you would agree. In 1986 we married and moved to Miami, Florida, where I later started a banking career and discovered that I thrived on the quantitative challenge. In 1993 we moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to work for a Midwest regional bank. In 2001, I joined Cornerstone University as their CFO and enjoyed working with a great team which moved the school forward in many ways. In 2005 I reentered the banking world as CFO of two sister banks, The Bank of Holland and The Bank of Northern Michigan. Seven years later, I started in the credit union industry and moved to South Bend, Indiana, to serve as CFO of Notre Dame Federal Credit Union. I also had the privilege to teach an undergraduate class in corporate finance at the University.

Claudia and I moved back to Michigan in 2018, this time to Midland which is the location of the worldwide headquarters for Dow Chemical Company and Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union, where I became the CFO. In April 2020, I was named the CEO. The most important verse for every leader is the first part of Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve”. Last year, Claudia and I were looking for a place to spend the winter months. I remembered Word of Life had a campus in Florida, and when we saw that there was an RV Park, we quickly reserved a lot. Claudia was able to stay through the end of March and had a wonderful time serving students and also building friendships while attending meetings, concerts, and dinners. I was able to join her for several weekends so I, too, could plug into the RV Park lifestyle. As we re-engage with Word of Life, we are excited to see the growth and impact of the ministry, and we are joyful to support the Great Commission work being done in 80+ countries worldwide.

How did you get connected to Word of Life? In 2001, my father attended the Florida Bible Institute as an off- campus student. I attended the Florida campus for First Year and New York campus for Second Year. My brother, Luke, also attended the Bible Institute in 2013 and 2014. Why did you choose to attend Word of Life Bible Institute? I thought one year being deep in God's Word would equip me to be a missionary in the marketplace as an English teacher. How did God use your year there to impact your life? He completely changed the course of my life . . . from pursuing a degree in English, to being passionate about pastoral ministry. As a kid, I had no desire for pastoral ministry, and I didn’t have a love for God's Word. The Lord gave me a love for missionary church planting work through my Second-Year internship. This led me on a journey that He eventually used to radically alter my love for the pastorate, for His Word, and for Himself. Where did you further your schooling? Liberty University Online - Religion in Biblical and Theological Studies How did God call you to your current ministry? In 2014, I was working in the Marketing Department at Word of Life and was praying about church planting. One day, some friends and I visited Burlington, Vermont. While walking on Church Street, we saw deep spiritual darkness, and the Lord gave me deep compassion for these people. What is the Focus/Scope/Goal of your ministry? Right now, my ministry is focused on young adults and college stu- dents in the Burlington metro area. A broad goal is to reach families, people groups, and subcultures of the Lake Champlain Valley area and Vermont through church planting. The Lord has filled up my joy by doing what I had once thought impos- sible here in the Queen City. Let me paint a picture by means of com- parison. The first year I was in Burlington, I didn't know any believers under the age of 30. The church plant started in 2017 with 12 people, and I was the only single adult. Three years later, there is now 1) a growing collegiate ministry at Champlain College resulting in dozens of students getting baptized; 2) approximately 150 people attending Sunday services; 3) diversity in age and race which is rare for our area; 4) a thriving core group of Spirit-filled, Christ-exalting believers. What have you seen God do through your ministry (college students and church)?

How can we pray for you? Financial Support: Living in Burlington is expensive. I may need to transition to a bi-vocational ministry if I cannot complete raising my funds. I need $1,600/month to be on budget. More Leaders and Harvesters: Raise up men and women from our congregation to proclaim the Gospel and shepherd His people locally and globally.

Michael is the CEO and President of the Dow Chemical Employee Credit Union. He and his wife, Claudia, have three children: George (married to Donielle), Katina and Giselle. Michael and Claudia currently live in Midland, MI. Michael & Claudia Goad


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