Phil Bjorklund ’77
Career: Former missionary in Rwanda. Missions Coach with World Venture
Home: 77-foot rig, including truck, trailer and towed car
Family: Wife, Mimi (Monson ’78); Children: Aaron, Leah and Timothy; 7 grandchildren
Venturing From Rwanda to RV
While students at Northwestern, Phil Bjorklund and Mimi Monson felt God drawing them to missions, and then to each other.
They married in Nazareth Chapel and after graduation, Phil worked in the UNW admissions office before and after graduating from Denver Seminary.
For 14 years, the Bjorklunds served as missionaries with World Venture in Rwanda. Living two miles from the site pictured in the film Hotel Rwanda, they were on the front lines of the violence between the Hutu and Tutsi people. Stifling tears, Phil described the horror of the Rwandan genocide, in which half of his students died. “These were not news stories,” said Phil. “We knew these people.”
Evacuated by Belgian troops, Phil and Mimi worked in refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo before returning to Rwanda to pick up the pieces of ministries there.
Coming onto World Venture staff in 1996, they settled in Littleton, Colo. “But the American lifestyle began to steamroll us,” admitted Phil. “We were discontent with what we’d become.”
Three years ago, they sold their home, traded in a comfortable lifestyle for an RV and took their ministry on the road. Phil and Mimi now serve together with World Venture as traveling mission coaches at several Christian colleges, including Northwestern (Phil has taught classes on campus and conducts debriefs for the UNW ICS internships).
Phil explains that their aim is not to recruit students to be missionaries, because “we don’t believe in recruiting for something that God has to recruit for.”
Rather, their purpose is to engage students on a personal level to help them discover God’s calling for their lives and encourage them to pursue it.
“Most twenty-somethings can’t define who God made them to be,” explained Phil. “As such, they often fail to launch or simply let life happen to them. Our passion is to help students not fall into that trap. For us, this is our sweet spot.”
Lee F’99 & Dawn (Wilson ’92) Shelton
Major: Lee: Psychology, Dawn: Communication
Home: Roseville, Minnesota
Family: Children: Patrice (10), Philippe (9), Olivia (22 months)
2 + 1 + 2 = Family Together at Last
The massive Haiti earthquake in January tore many families apart, but for Dawn and Lee Shelton it brought theirs together. In 2005, the Sheltons began the adoption process for a child from China. “When we decided to adopt from China it was a six- to nine-month wait,” Dawn said. “It slowly turned into a terrible wait of nearly four years.”
After pouring her heart out to God in December 2007, Dawn found a picture on an orphan website that she “just knew was our daughter”— Patrice (pronounced Pa-tree-see-a), a young girl from Haiti.
“It turns out that her information was posted online the same night I was praying,” Dawn said. “Then, just over a month after we decided to adopt Patrice, we found out she had a little brother! We know if we had seen these two presented as a sibling set from the get-go, we would have been too intimidated to pursue the adoptions because we were already adopting from China.”
The Sheltons found themselves waiting for children from both China and Haiti. The long China wait ended when Olivia arrived in Minnesota in July 2009.
Six months later, the process hastened after the earthquake, Patrice and Philippe joined their parents and sister in their new home. After 18 years of marriage and five years of waiting for children, their family was together at last.
“The biggest blessing is the miracle of our children and how all three of them were chosen by God to be Sheltons,” said Dawn.
Lee and Dawn met at Northwestern and were involved in choir and musicals, and Dawn wrote for The Column. Dawn’s father, Kyle Wilson ’51, served as campus pastor and worked at Northwestern from 1979 until his retirement.
Kim Ketola F’08
Career: Author and speaker
Home: Peachtree City, Georgia
Family: Husband, 4 adult children
Redemption in Radio
Kim Ketola F’08 had a lifetime of professional and personal experiences before she stepped foot in a Northwestern classroom. She brought experience with Twin Cities radio stations KS95, WCCO, KTIS and the Faith Radio Network and had founded a ministry named Tell Them I Love Them.
“The purpose of [the ministry] was to produce conferences and media to help relieve spiritual suffering after abortion, a mission we fulfilled with God’s help,” said Ketola, who wanted to reach post-abortive women. She knew their pain from experience after her own abortion over 30 years ago.
“In 1978, I met my goal of working in radio, but I also became pregnant out of wedlock,” Ketola explained. “When my fiancé declined to marry, I chose abortion. That followed me throughout my career in radio.”
The Lord led her to repent of her abortion in 2001 and “[He] called me to ministry and redeemed my work in radio—through the program my ministry produced and also through the program I hosted on KTIS and the Faith Radio network,” said Ketola.
Ketola had the passion to lead an effective ministry, but she wanted to pursue a degree at Northwestern to “proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and have a more solid foundation for sharing biblical truth.”
Now as she travels to speak at Ruth Graham and Friends confer¬ences and works on an upcoming book, Ketola brings her message of redemption across the country.
“The overall message of the book I’m working on is that God will use your worst mistake to His greatest glory, if you let Him. That is the story of my life. I am so grateful that this truth was affirmed in my education at Northwestern and in my time as an employee at KTIS. I was shown Christian love by the college community and I benefited from that greatly.”