When Shawn Heppell went into farming 20 years ago, he wanted to be a light for God in his business. He didn’t know he’d also be shining that light on the soccer field.
Heppell , along with his wife Denise, run Mountain View Poultry, a turkey farm in Abbotsford, B.C.
“I always knew I wanted to farm,” he said. “That was always my passion.”
Before he began his career in farming, he chose to come to Briercrest for a year.
“I went to Youth Quake back in the day when I was a teenager and I got pretty excited about the school at that time,” he recalled. “It was for me far away from home, which had some appeal to it. It just seemed like a great place to go. Even though I knew I’d be in business, I thought that had a calling as well. . . I always thought, ‘I may not be a great teacher or a great preacher, but I can certainly get involved in my local church.”
That’s exactly what he’s done.
As Heppell plugged into his local church in Vernon, B.C., Emmanuel Fellowship Baptist Church, he saw a need and found a unique way to fill it.
“We had a need for ministry in our church for the kids,” he explained. “The old Vacation Bible School (VBS) program just wasn’t bringing out kids anymore.”
About that time, the Briercrest alumnus saw a soccer program that another church was conducting.
“I thought, ‘We could do that’,” he exclaimed. “So basically I got my care group involved the first year. We put it on and we had about 50 kids which was a great number.”
That was 12 years ago. The soccer ministry has continued to blossom – it has reached about 200 elementary school kids for the last four years.
“We’ve kind of capped it at 200 kids,” Heppell said. “We’re a congregation of about 400 – that’s about as many good quality volunteers as we can pull from our church. We want to keep it a good program.”
Heppell has reaped benefits from his time at Briercrest – some have been surprising.
“It’s a great place to network with other Christians that you’re going to run into the rest of your life,” he said. “That’s one thing that Denise and I have been amazed at. A lot of our friends that we made there we’re still in contact with. That’s kind of a neat thing.”
“(Briercrest) is a place where you’re going to grow closer to God,” he continued. “Regardless of what your end profession will be – whether in ministry or the business world – it will prepare you for that. It will give you a foundation to build on for the rest of your career.”