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Leading On and Off the Field

Alum J.D. Mehlhorn ’14 on community, showing Christ’s love, and the things that make Bethel’s football team unique.

What’s great about Bethel is we’re all in community together. The Christian learning environment is really cool. It allows us to grow together, in our faith. Whether it’s someone who’s just starting out, just hearing about the gospel, or someone who’s extremely mature in their faith and diving deeper. This environment allows us to talk about those things and grow together in a way you can’t at other places. The fact that we’re a little smaller makes for a cool community.

In football we talk about facing adversity together, and it brings us together. It’s the same thing in the classroom. You want to help the person next to you. All the people here are willing to help each other out and challenge each other, even in tough issues. It’s made for a lot of growth for everyone.

I went to Slovakia with GoodSports International to work with underprivileged kids through sports. We went over there without expectations. It was the first time the trip was led. It blew me away. The kids over there were incredible. They care so much for each other. Tom and Debbie Johnson do a great job giving them a great environment. we probably got more out of it than anyone.

There are so many different ways to reach out and show Christ’s love. I really experienced that for the first time in Slovakia. My traditional idea of a missions trip was going and preaching the gospel in the streets. When I was over there, it was very relational. It was about building relationships and getting to a point where you genuinely care about the other person, and they care about you.

That opens up avenues to love them. And gives them the opportunity to have God working on their heart. We were just spending time with kids, hanging out and playing football. But you could see how much of a difference it made with the kids and with the ministry. It reaffirmed to me that there are many ways to reach out and show that Christ is working in you, and to show others that He’s alive in you.

What made our team successful on and off the field was the brotherhood we have. It sounds like a cliché. A lot of teams say it. But there’s something about this place, and this team...everyone cares for each other so much, and trusts each other so much, that it makes itself evident on the field. If you can trust your teammate to do his job, it instills that much more confidence in him. And he’s gonna instill that much more confidence in me. And everyone’s gonna do their job and get it done. My time on the football team has been my single greatest experience here.

All I can do is do my best with what I’ve got. If I’ve got the ability to play football or get an A in a class, then I should do my best to do that, and trust God with the rest. That’s something I’ve tried to do in every aspect of my life

It’s hard to articulate how special this place is to someone who hasn’t been here. Or even who has only been here for a short time. Some of the freshman come in and you try to explain to them how much this place will mean to them in a few years, but you can’t really do it.

I love the people. The relationships that I have built since I have been here have had such an incredible impact on my life. It's almost difficult to explain with words. These people will be my friends, mentors, and role models for the rest of my life.

More info about J.D.

Graduation Year

Biokinetics, Physics, Mathematics

College of Arts & Sciences

Lakeville, MN

Watching and playing sports, spending time with friends