Shepherds Ministry serious about spiritual life

By March 25, 2009

USA (MNN) — As a result of hiring a new Spiritual Life Director, the spiritual lives of residents at Shepherds Ministries have been able to thrive and flourish more completely.


Paul Von Tobel, better known to residents as "Pastor Paul," has been working at Shepherds for just over six months with the specific job of caring for the spiritual needs of the residents. This is a unique pastoral ministry since Shepherds residents are all developmentally disabled in one way or another. Pastor Paul says their love for the Lord is already outstanding, but he has been able to reach out in new ways.

"We have worship services throughout the week (we have two on Sundays and  chapel services on Wednesday)," says Von Tobel. "In addition, we have various service opportunities and Bible studies going on throughout the week, as well as working with residents one-on-one."

What makes these programs particularly stimulating is the way Pastor Paul has been able to involve residents in their production. During worship services, residents help to lead music, sing in the choir if they've come to practice the week prior, usher and greet people, and publicly read Scripture.

"What we're trying to do is really train them up to be able to use the gifts and abilities that God has given them to serve others and empower them to serve," says Von Tobel. Many residents are doing this and already have their own personal ministries, which includes the Gospel Team pictured above.

In the future, Pastor Paul hopes to see even more opportunities, such as nursing home visitations, for the students at Shepherds to reach out to the community and serve.

Residents seem to radiate Christ as it is, and they also work on Spiritual Life themes every month, such as "encouraging one another." "Our ultimate goal each month is for the men and women to [be able to] do something that they weren't able to do last month, relating to their walk with the Lord," says Von Tobel.

Shepherds residents are constantly praying for missionaries and ministries, but they are in need of prayer, as well. Pray that the vision for spiritual life would continue to grow and that residents would continue to respond. Shepherds is also looking for churches that would be willing to host Shepherds residents who desire to leave the campus for worship.

To learn more about Shepherds Ministries, click here.

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