Vernal grew up in a Seventh-day Adventist home in Florida, but there was much he didn’t know about his faith—such as the mark of the beast and the character of God. His search for truth led him to Hartland.
“One of the things that I feared most was being deceived. I had a lot of questions about God,” he relates. “At Hartland I got real answers, a more practical understanding of God, and as a result, I’m able to explain these things more practically to others.”
As he studied elementary education at Hartland, taught in our day academy, and participated in outreaches such as Piedmont Bible Camp, Vernal realized that he enjoys mentoring young people. And that is exactly what he is doing now as a task force dean and Sabbath school teacher at Shenandoah Valley Academy—helping teens find answers to questions he once asked himself.
“That’s one thing I like about this work: these guys have real questions, and they want real answers. Some of them don’t even fully understand what the Sabbath or the great controversy is about. And that challenges me, because to have a real answer, I need to have studied and have a good answer for myself. I don’t have all the answers, but Hartland gave me a very big scope, and I’m learning more every day.
“The most fulfilling part of my job is seeing somebody who is struggling—whether it’s with faith, keeping their room clean, behavior, grades, or whatever—and being able to help steer them in the right direction, especially spiritually. If I can show them that a life with Christ is all they need, and not just doing what looks good or what the majority is doing, then I would consider my work a success.”
What does Vernal see himself doing in the future? He’s not quite sure, but he is confident that God has called him to full-time missionary work.
“My vision is to show people the love of God—whether it’s young people or whomever—and to prepare people for Jesus’ coming. I’ve learned that, as a young person, I have a place in God’s work, and that God wants me to work with Him to bring souls to Him. And Hartland has given me the tools to do that.”