Alumnus of the year changes lives in Honduras

October 29, 2013 | 11 a.m.

1988 graduate serves on board of directors for Agua Viva

News | Tori Sundholm for The Clarion

Jay Substad was named Bethel University’s 2013 alumnus of the year. He received this award in recognition of his mission project - bringing water to rural communities in Honduras. During chapel on Oct. 5, Substad shared the story of how God called him to Honduras and the struggles that came with bringing water to a third world country.

Being alumnus of the year is an honor given to a Bethel graduate whose work demonstrates the qualities and achievements that current Bethel students strive for.

“When I found out about the award I got a huge pit in my stomach because I don’t like public speaking," Substad said. "I feel unworthy. I live a simple life and I am honored.”

Along with speaking in chapel, Substad attended a luncheon with the president. Further alumnus of the year duties included attending the Homecoming football game, presenting at the alumni event and interviewing with the business department.

Substad, who graduated in 1988 with a degree in business management with an economics minor, never planned on actually using his major.

“I didn’t think I was going to use my major much because I was in the Air Force and just needed a college degree,” Substad said.

Little did he know God had big plans for his future.

During Substad’s time at Bethel, he built lifelong relationships and grew in his faith. “My walk with the Lord really grew through my time at Bethel. It gave me a foundation to launch into life," Substad said.

After graduating Bethel, Substad landed his dream job of flying commercial planes.He still kept in contact with six of his friends from Bethel. Substad and his former classmates would meet once a week for a bible study/accountability group.

Substad recalls when one member of the group, Frank, told them about God's calling to bring water to people in need, an idea that Substad initially disregarded.

A few years later, in 2003, Substad was laid off from his job and he reconsidered the call Frank had previously mentioned.

The Holy Spirit continued to move in Substad when he met a man named Jonathan who had information on leading missions trips to Honduras. From then on, Substad devoted his life to the mission of bringing water to rural communities in Honduras. He even moved his family to Honduras to live for two years.

Substad recalls the struggles that his family faced and their reliance on the Lord during that time. Eventually, Substad was offered his original job flying commercial planes, but decided to fully commit to bringing water to Honduras.

Substad now serves on the board of directors for Agua Viva, which is an organization with a mission of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Honduras while providing water systems. Since his first trip in 2003 he has lead 16 water missions to Honduras.

On every trip, the group meets a new rural community in the mountains. These communities lack electricity and water. The group builds a water system and latrines to help improve sanitation conditions and the overall health of the community.

Substad led a group of Bethel students to Honduras on spring break of 2013 and will be leading another trip with people from different churches this November.

Many Bethel students have participated in missions trips to Honduras, and two Bethel University alumni will be joining Substad on the November trip. There are plans for providing a medical clinic in Honduras for nursing and pre-med students to practice their skills and help the Agua Viva mission.

There is no doubt that Bethel students have felt the call to action as a result of Substad's work.

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