Theology Student Benefits from the Generosity of Others

Health is the right hand of the gospel, and no one knew that better than R. Allen Jamison. So, when Judith Jamison-Payne decided to start a scholarship in memory of her husband, she asked that it be given to a theology student with an interest in health ministry.

“Everything we do is dependent on health,” says Jamison-Payne, “even our relationship with God. It’s what Christ did: heal, teach, and preach.”

R. Allen Jamison received a Bachelor of Arts in theology from Pacific Union College and a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in 1964. He also received master’s degree in public health at Loma Linda University and then his doctorate at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.

Pastoral work gave Jamison ample outlet for health ministry, especially in the mission field. Jamison served as a missionary at Chile Adventist University, Montemorelos University in Mexico, and the Peruvian Union University in Lima, Peru.

“In the mission field, Allen and the boys would go out and find ways to get acquainted with the community. Then we would try to meet needs,” says Jamison-Payne. “Health is a very exciting way to meet people and possibly bring people to Christ. Allen felt it was a great way to reach out to non-believers and bring them to the knowledge of truth.”

In the United States, Jamison served as a pastor in many places, including the Cleburne church. His heart was in preparing pastors in the area of health and ministry, and he devoted his life to this pursuit until his untimely death in 1996.

Judith Jamison-Payne started the R. Allen Jamison Scholarship in 1998. Her ultimate goal was not just to help pay for education, but also to encourage and support students.

“I would like to encourage every young person in ministry to follow after health. I know it’s expensive to go to school, and this scholarship is just a drop in the bucket,” says Jamison-Payne. “But nevertheless, scholarships are important because they show students that people are interested in their success.”

The Other Side of the Story

This year, the scholarship recipient is theology major Austen Powell. The summer before attending Southwestern, Powell was questioning the very purpose of life and the existence of God. That doesn’t sound like a great candidate for a health ministry scholarship but God had other plans for Powell.

Powell’s personal journey took a sharp curve when he decided to challenge God. Driving home from work he said, “If you exist, say something in the next thirty minutes.” No great miracle took place. No bolt of lightning struck. He didn’t even feel God’s presence. The ordinary drive convinced Powell that God does not exist.

“For several weeks I was an atheist,” said Powell. “I got depressed. My decisions were based on making me feel happy, but they just made me feel empty.”

From sleepless night to endless day, the situation couldn’t get worse. One night Powell felt like he was at his lowest point, even willing to end his own life.

“I had made up my mind that I didn’t want this life anymore,” said Powell. “I got out of bed, but I felt tackled back into my bed.”

Mentally exhausted, Powell restlessly dozed and began dreaming that the world was falling apart. Suddenly, in the midst of the chaos, a figure that he could only describe as Christ appeared. In the dream, the Christ-figure smiled and said, “Everyone gets a second chance.”

Powell then experienced the best night’s sleep he’d had in ages and woke up feeling peaceful. God did care. He cared enough to meet Powell in his dreams. He was filled with determination to let others know that they too could have a second chance.

That week, he enrolled at Southwestern. Every choice Powell made deliberately pointed toward God. Daily devotional and prayer became a staple. Powell read Steps to Christ, by Ellen White, and studied the Bible. He made a conscious effort to get involved at school. It was not a perfect transition. Occasionally mistakes were made and Powell questioned or doubted his faith. Yet overall, he moved toward a better understanding of God and God’s purpose for his life.

Powell became involved with Southwestern’s health club and began learning about making purposeful decisions for his health. He knew God was calling him to ministry but he wasn’t sure about specifically what ministry. He worked hard with the health club, starting Southwestern’s own version of the Color Run. His professors noticed his hard work and nominated him for the R. Allen Jamison Scholarship.

“I got to meet my scholarship donor,” said Powell. “We had an enlightening conversation. She inspired me to follow health ministry.”

“He is a great fit,” says Jamison-Payne. “It brings me encouragement to see people who are excited about combining health and ministry. “

Talking with the scholarship donor sparked new purpose in Powell. He not only continued to make prayerful decisions, but to share what he was learning too. This year, Powell is Student Association president. He has worked for the Department of Spiritual Life and Development for several years, is a student youth pastor for the Keene SDA Church, and is a member of the Southwestern Acrobatic Team (SWAT). He’s graduating this year, and he’s looking forward to serving in ministry in Cleburne.

“Now, I make decisions based on my relationship with God, not just whatever feels good or I think will make me happier. I live healthier and want to help others do the same. Meeting Mrs. Jamison-Payne came at the perfect time.

See? God’s got it under control.”

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