Meet Elaine Dimal
Elaine has a vision to see skilled artists do what they are created to do passionately for God. Watch her “I Am Every Nation” video to learn about the culture that God has sent her to impact at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and read her testimony about how he called her from rebellion into full-time campus ministry.
I’ve been in the United States since I was nine years old. My parents actually got saved in the Philippines when Steve Murrell (a cofounder of Every Nation) and his team first started to minister. My dad was a pastor for a season before returning to his calling to business. When the opportunity to come to America arrived, my parents left everything including my siblings and I with my relatives. They migrated to America and we followed two years later in October 2001. They came for work and a better life and naturally began attending our sister church in Van Nuys, California.
It’s expected that when you migrate to America, nothing is going to be easy or handed to you, but it also promises you that if you work hard you can achieve, have, and do anything. So I worked hard, lived my life as best as I could—following the rules, being kind, trying to be perfect at all my responsibilities. I had to figure out everything for us in terms of schooling or anything foreign to my parents.
I was doing well until a season came when everything was failing. People disappointed me and the burden of having it all together got too heavy. So I lost my trust and my hope—it affected my sense of identity, security, and joy. I became very depressed and I couldn’t share it with anyone. I was hurting all the time and nobody understood me or saw me because I had to maintain that standard of perfection. Until that started breaking down too. I soon started to rebel and allowing myself to be selfish, giving up on my responsibilities and living a double life. I was still in church but I served so much that I avoided going to service. I ended up in a very ungodly relationship that I kept denying and hiding.
On my nineteenth birthday, God broke into my heart. He asked me if I loved him, and by his grace, I said yes. I knew that meant surrendering my relationship and life. I ran to my life group leader and told her the whole truth of what I had been hiding. Everyone in our group was so loving. They prayed for me and helped me break that relationship. I was still heartbroken until God started healing me making me face my fears in victory after victory. Finally, I experienced God’s joy and felt something had been lifted from me. He wiped the slate clean! After that, I wanted to be a part of his vision to see the broken and lost people healed and found. I wanted to give every person I knew and the opportunity to experience this real God wanting to give real love, freedom and joy.
I started seeking training tools to evangelize and lead more effectively. I’d already been hosting two small groups at school and church and evangelizing using the tools we had. In my junior year, during the call to ministry moment at the Every Nation Campus Conference, I felt that I was called but didn’t respond. I wasn’t ready for the commitment. But I knew that the things they were saying were things that God had already instilled in me. My senior year, at the next conference in Oregon, I finally stood up in response to the call and was ready to do whatever it took to make Jesus known in this current and future generation, and the world.
This is what wakes me up in the morning: knowing that the gospel is true, is good news, and that this is the kind of God that people really need to experience.
Julia Bretz is one of the newest campus missionaries that some of you partnered to send to Duke University. She graduated from the 2018 class of the School of Campus Ministry, and was nominated by her fellow missionaries as student of the year. Here’s her first-hand story of how God called her to ministry and how she’s already moving forward in that call as a new campus missionary at Duke!
Campus Missionary, Duke University
Life-Turn at Duke University
My life is a testimony of the value of campus ministry. I had experiences with God at a young age, but didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus at all. I went to Duke University to study political science and was a rower on their team. Rowing was really my entire future and identity. But then during my sophomore year I got injured and wasn’t able to row anymore. That sent me into a spiral. I was uncertain of what my future would look like and constantly questioning what my purpose was in life.
A young man who was a student leader in Every Nation would lead these athlete Bible studies and would always invite me. After my injury, I finally ended up going to one of the meetings. An Every Nation Campus missionary happened to be there prophesying over students. That prophecy over me included things about my life and who I was. I had a strong moment realizing, ‘Oh my gosh, God is real!’ I had to know more about this Jesus. After that, I went to an ENC conference, got baptized, and fully dedicated myself to Christ a couple months later my junior year.
That same school year, I attended a prophetic conference and this is where I said, ‘Wow, I feel called.’ I just felt strongly that this is what God was calling me to do.
Launch to Full-time Campus Ministry
Since graduating from the School of Campus Ministry, I’ve been getting acclimated with students I knew back as a student leader in our ENC chapter. God showed me how he could move at any time to change a student’s life, even just before they graduate.
While I was on campus visiting a student, I ran into this young lady named Jordan. My friend had actually shown me a picture of her a couple months before. I started a conversation, asked her about her plans after graduation, and after that I just asked her if she’s open to meet with me to talk about the gospel. We met up, went through a chapter of One 2 One (discipleship guidebook for new believers) which was about salvation, and she decided to give her life to the Lord right there! We kept meeting for a couple weeks before she graduated, studying the Scriptures and going through what it means to walk in relationship with Christ.
This is my goal: to engage students, equip them, establish them, and empower them. When I look at my campus, I just see that there will be leaders on this campus. There’s a high level of excellence I can see transferring to their pursuit of God’s kingdom in their workplaces. That’s what excites me about this campus. Wherever I go, I will share the gospel. I praise God that he called me to himself at Duke and he sent me back to Duke.
Charlottesville is an idyllic small town located in the Shenandoah Valley of central Virginia—the home of the prestigious University of Virginia (UVA). The college was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson and watched over through a telescope from Monticello, the home of the former U.S. President. But in 2017 it became a site of violence and racial tension. In the North American division of Every Nation, it begged the question, “Who will go?” The launch of Grace Covenant in Charlottesville with UVA Professor, Dr. Paul Harris, as the lead pastor will be the Every Nation church plant answering the call to serve and reconcile the people of Charlottesville. Here’s Dr. Paul’s story of how he went from professor to church planter.
Dr. Paul Harris
Senior Pastor, Charlottesville, Virginia
My spiritual journey to faith in Christ began at age thirteen. As a P.K. (preacher’s kid) I was immersed in Christianity from my earliest memories. The most profound experience came when a visiting preacher challenged kids raised in Christian homes (particularly preachers’ kids) to know God for themselves. That was the moment that I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and lord.
At the University of Virginia (UVA) I was a member of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and of the choir, Black Voices. It was a season of tremendous fellowship and significant spiritual growth for me. It’s also where I met my wife, Taylor. The idea of being a pastor was never far away. However, I also felt called to academia. I completed my graduate studies at UVA and finished with a Ph.D. in Education.
Taylor and I first got involved with an Every Nation church when Donnell and Marianne Jones Jones planted Grace Covenant in Washington, D.C. Two years later in 2007, we moved to northern Virginia for work, and at that point began attending Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly where I’ve been serving on the leadership team in overseeing the small group ministry.
I accepted a position as a professor at the University of Virginia in 2014 and moved back to Charlottesville. The idea of planting an Every Nation church was growing stronger and clearer. I finally called Pastor Brett Fuller at Grace Covenant in Chantilly to discuss what I’d been feeling. In 2017, Taylor and I attended the Every Nation Assessment Center which was followed by my attendance at the Church Planters’ Bootcamp that same year.
One unique aspect of the future Every Nation church in Charlottesville is that I will continue on as a professor at UVA. This will be one of only several Every Nation North American church plants with a bi-vocational lead pastor—the only one with a university professor serving in that role. When you think of it in context of the Every Nation mission, continuing to teach at UVA made perfect sense to all the leaders.
The plan is to initiate a soft launch on September 9, 2018, followed by monthly preview services for the remaining calendar year. The church launch date is January 6, 2019. Currently, we have twenty-two people committed to serving on our core team, some from Charlottesville and some from Chantilly. About twenty others come and help when they can. Our goal is to raise three years of basic operating expenses before the launch. I will raise a ‘summer salary’ through personal partnership for the unpaid months of the academic year.
Taylor and I greatly appreciate the prayers and personal mentoring we have received from the Every Nation churches in Northern Virginia. I can’t tell you how much their friendship and encouragement have meant to our family.
Your partnership changes lives.
Thank you for being a world changer and helping Every Nation establish Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, socially responsible churches and campus ministries in every nation.