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Published on 28 April, 2009

Doors open for Shepherds residents

USA (MNN) — After serving developmentally disabled young adults for years, Shepherds Ministries has begun a college program to even better prepare their residents for employment and ministry in the world.

Shepherds College is a new program this year, and it currently has two areas of occupational training: culinary arts and horticulture. The college has six students right now, who have excitedly jumped head-first into these programs. In Year Two of the three-year program, they will choose whether they want to focus on horticulture or culinary arts.

"We definitely don't want to push either horticulture or culinary arts onto somebody, but we're looking for the Lord's leading in their lives to help them make that choice," says Owen Lackey, who leads the horticulture program at Shepherds.

So far, students are discovering that they really enjoy both areas of study. The leader of the culinary arts program, Allan Castelli, says the college has increased creativity greatly and allowed students to develop skills that they may never have been willing to pursue.

The goal at Shepherds College is to prepare young adults with Life Skills, Vocational Training and Practicum experience. Their guiding principle is that each individual is "designed by God on purpose and for a purpose." 

"Our goal is to really develop men and women who have integrity and are
able to reach others with the Gospel by their work ethic," says

Hopes are high as many working residents are already exemplary models of Christ at their jobs. "We have people in the community now who work at McDonald's or work at Marriott hotels, and they're a testimony," says Castelli. "They've worked 20-something years, and day in day out, they're faithful; they're great team members. Many times I've had managers come to me and say, ‘You got any more? We need this kind of employee.'"

Pray that the students of Shepherds College would discover more of their abilities through these programs and would have the joy of employment and of sharing the Gospel as employees.

If you would like to learn more about Shepherds College and the students there, click here.

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