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Spring Break Trip Leads to Ministry Leadership for CU Alumnus

by Natalia Kirychuk, Public Relations Writer


In an announcement on July 15, BJ Bechtel, a 1999 Cedarville University graduate, was named CEO of Inner City Impact (ICI) in Chicago. Bechtel first worked with ICI during a spring break mission trip through Cedarville’s Global Outreach office. He returned to ICI the next summer, took a full-time job after graduation and has worked at ICI 18 years.

ICI is a ministry committed to reaching children ages 5-18 with the Gospel in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. Full-time staff and volunteers lead Bible studies, disciple students one-on-one and offer a variety of Christ-centered activities, including after-school programs, winter and summer camps and leadership and sports leagues. Their mission is “to present the living Christ, primarily to unchurched inner-city children and youth, discipling and integrating them into a local church.”

“My favorite part of being involved with ICI is being able to see lives rewritten through the power of the Gospel,” said Bechtel. “I greatly value the opportunity to impact the next generation and see the next steps that the children take in their lives.”

Including Bechtel, four Cedarville graduates work as full-time staff at ICI and Cedarville regularly sends students there during spring break. Allison Staley, senior middle childhood education major from Tipp City, Ohio, took the spring break trip to ICI in March 2016.

“The staff at Inner City Impact were very friendly and made an effort to get to know us,” said Staley. “They did a great job of communicating the goal of ICI and were passionate about their ministry.”

Aside from introducing him to ICI, Cedarville played a huge role in preparing Bechtel for his current position.

“I’m thankful for all the biblical teaching I received and the missions trips I was able to take through Cedarville,” said Bechtel. “Cedarville trained me for ministry and exposed me to so many different opportunities.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,760 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.