MARYVILLE – Beth Yarnell grew up in a solid Christian family in Liberty and accepted Christ at a young age. Though she understood the saving grace of Jesus, she found herself constantly worrying about the future. “I was prone to worrying and wondering if God liked me,” she says. “I felt like I had to do it all on my own.”
When she started her freshman year at Northwest Missouri State University, the worry only intensified. “It was a big transition, going from having that family and support system to being on my own,” she says. Following in the footsteps of her big brother, Yarnell quickly connected with the Lighthouse BSU where she found people who challenged her in her faith and discipled her. “The BSU felt like a family” she says. “They cared about people getting involved and experiencing spiritual growth.
Freshman year was still difficult as she battled worry. “I wanted to be in control of things, but I was realizing I couldn’t be,” she says. One night while driving home, the Spirit intervened in a powerful way, revealing that she had been holding onto control of her life. “I didn’t want to anymore,” she says. “I just wanted what God had for me.”
In that moment of total surrender, God began a radical transformation of her life. He drew her out of her comfort zone, shedding her reserved personality and clothing her in boldness. She joined the BSU’s outreach team and began sharing the gospel with strangers. “God was using me to do things I had never thought possible before,” she says. “He did more work in me in two months than I could ever have done in my whole life.” As a byproduct, she found that the more she focused on the things of God’s kingdom and His power at work in her life, the less she worried.
Over the next couple years, Yarnell kept doing evangelism on the outreach team while working on her degree in Human Services. She had a burning passion to get others involved in the BSU and make them feel at home. As she entered the second half of her college career, God started placing the desire on her heart to continue doing college ministry after graduation.
Around the same time, she met Caleb Yarnell, the son of Lighthouse BSU’s Campus Missionary Jason Yarnell. God was stirring the same desire for vocational college ministry in Caleb. God wove their paths together as they fell in love and began preparing for both marriage and life on staff with the BSU. They were married in December and now serve on staff with the BSU. As MBCollegiate apprentices, they will spend this spring plus another year ministering at Northwest while prayerfully preparing to be sent out to another campus in Missouri.
Because of her own story, Beth is passionate about helping other students live a life of complete surrender. “A lot of people compartmentalize God into different areas of their lives. They allow him into their church life but not their work life. God is our Savior – He deserves to be in every aspect of our lives,” she says.
She also wants to help others trust God enough to draw them out of their comfort zone to do the things they don’t think they can do, especially when it comes to evangelism. “In our culture, we don’t want to tell people our beliefs or imply that someone is wrong. But that’s not the gospel. The gospel is for everyone – everyone needs a Savior.”
For Beth, coming on staff with the BSU is a natural overflow of the work God did in her life during college. Even though she didn’t end up in the career path she expected, she sees God’s hand in leading her to marriage and ministry alongside Caleb. To other college students she challenges, “Be open to not having things go how you’re planning to go. Have an open mind about what God wants you to do. In every stage of life, God can and wants to use you.”