She always had a heart for overseas ministry. Today, Amanda Pennington is living and working for the Lord in Jerusalem.
“God is bringing Jewish people back to Israel by the thousands,” says Amanda (Wheeler) Pennington ’07. “I’m here to love and support God’s people.”
As she looked out her apartment window at the Judean Mountains of the West Bank on a January day, Amanda reflected on how God brought her to Israel, too.
From not knowing to knowing
Graduating from Olivet Nazarene University with a degree in family and consumer sciences (FACS) education, she began her professional career as a high school teacher in Manteno and then Barrington, Illinois. “I really enjoyed connecting with students and building relationships,” she says. “In our after-school cooking club, we did projects to serve the local community. We had so much fun together, and the students loved it!”
After 10 years in public education and earning her master’s degree in multicategorical special education, she asked God to give her a people or a place to serve. She has traveled on mission trips since her high school days and has always had a heart for helping others in different cultures.
“As I got deeper into God’s Word, Israel stood out to me like it never had before,” Amanda says. “I asked God, ‘Where can I serve? How can I help?’ Then he opened the door for me with Bridges for Peace.”
Following two summer mission trips to Israel with Bridges for Peace, Amanda felt called to serve full time there. That was a year and a half ago.
Accepting God’s assignment
Today, Amanda works with Bridges for Peace in the Feed A Child program at the Jerusalem Assistance Center. Each month, Bridges for Peace serves more than 22,000 people.
“Many of the children we serve are from families that have recently immigrated to Israel and face the challenges of settling in a new land,” Amanda says. “Some children in the program have a parent who is ill or who has passed away. Some are from struggling families or have only one parent. We want to help them break out of the cycle of poverty.”
Through the Feed A Child sponsorship program, Christian donors from all over the world help provide a daily hot lunch for children at their schools, books, school supplies, backpacks, after-school mentoring and tutoring programs, and other services.
God is using Amanda’s foods, catering and event planning experience in several ways through Bridges for Peace. She also mentors young adults, ages 18 to 30, through a discipleship program and continues her study of Hebrew so she can better communicate with the people she’s serving.
My Olivet, our Olivet
“Olivet was essential in helping me grow in my faith,” Amanda says. “When I transferred to Olivet as a sophomore, I didn’t know what career I wanted to pursue. I entered a Christian school and environment for the first time in my life.”
At Olivet, Amanda learned to prioritize her faith. She especially appreciates the influence of chapel and Bible classes in helping her grow spiritually. “I was making huge decisions while I was a student,” she says. “At Olivet, I had the spiritual support and mentors I needed.”
“I also got a great education at Olivet,” she adds. “I had a full-time job lined up before I even finished my student teaching.”
Amanda appreciates the professors, staff and pastors who were there for her during her Olivet days (and beyond) — especially Dr. Diane Richardson, her FACS professor, and Beth Olney, director of The Elwood Center for Student Success. “They helped me focus on the really important things in life and on the importance of helping others,” she says. “I can always trust them for sound, godly advice.”
As Amanda continues to witness God’s faithfulness every day, she trusts that she is making a difference for God’s kingdom. “It’s amazing to live out, with passion, a clear calling God has put on my life,” she says. “I have such peace knowing I’m right where he wants me to be.”
Travel with Olivet to Israel and walk where Jesus walked Nov. 2–11, 2019. To learn more about this trip, go to Olivet.edu/walk-where-Jesus-walked.
To learn more about Olivet’s Missions In Action program, contact the Office of Admissions at email@example.com or 800-648-1463.
Photos submitted by Amanda Pennington. Used with permission.