PERSONAL TRAUMAS MOVE PASTOR TO HELP OTHERS
When she was 23 years old, Kathy Yoder was struck with an illness that ultimately led to two liver transplants.
Those traumas reminded the Eastern Mennonite University graduate how fragile life can be. "At 23, you donít think about writing your own funeral plans," she said.
Her health issues led her to consider spirituality in a different way and, while recovering from her first transplant, she felt the call to the ministry.
Becoming the pastor of West Swamp Mennonite Church in Quakertown, Pa., has enabled Yoder to more readily reach out to others going through difficult situations. "As a pastor, I enjoy helping and comforting people walking through death and dying situations of their loved ones or of their own," she said during a recent visit to Bluffton University.
The Virginia native was at Bluffton as part of its minister-in-residence program, using Matthew 4:23-25 as the text for encouraging members of the campus community to be aware of the brokenness around them and to seek the wholeness found in Jesus Christ.
"We are all broken in different ways; no one is out there fighting this world on their own," said Yoder, who has a long-held passion to work closely with those who have chronic illnesses and physical or mental disabilities.
Her first job was as an art therapist, helping patients find nonverbal ways to express themselves through poetry, drama, art and other media. Those skills helped the patients communicate what they were struggling with emotionally, mentally and physically.
Now, connecting people with the healing that Jesus offers is Yoderís mission in life, and her own journey has helped her point those who are broken to that healing. "We must not be afraid to wade into the wholeness of Jesus, for itís in him we find that perfect peace," she said.
Blufftonís minister-in-residence program aims to increase dialogue and understanding between the university and Mennonite pastors and church leaders. Pastors speak at the weekly chapel service and meet with students, staff and members of the religion faculty and the Presidentís Cabinet.
Ariel Shuey, public relations office, 12/2/11