Baccalaureate service held for Perry seniors

Members of the Perry Senior High Class of 2015 attended a Baccalaureate Service Sunday at the Perry Bible Church. The soon-to-be graduates posed afterwards with guest speaker and former Iowa State University basketball standout Jake Sullivan, right, who now serves as a basketball instructor and missionary.

Nineteen members of the Perry High School Class of 2015 attended a baccalaureate service at the Perry Bible Church Sunday.

Guest speaker for the event was former Iowa State University basketball standout Jake Sullivan, who now serves as President of Kingdom Cares International and Kingdom Hoops Academy, which he founded along with wife, Janel.

The event began with comments from host pastor Charles Compton, with Lonnie Ostransky leading those in attendance in a hymn, with Gary Weishaar providing the accompaniment on piano.

After a brief scripture reading from assistant pastor Joseph Dantzler, the Perry Select Choir, under the direction of Jenn Nelson, performed a pair of numbers.

Mike and Shari Garber, longtime directors of the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, addressed the graduates and had them briefly introduce themselves and announce their post-high school plans.

Former PCSD Superintendent Dr. Randy McCaulley performed a special musical selection, followed by the main attraction, a presentation and message of encouragement from Sullivan.

Guest speaker Jake Sullivan encouraged the seniors to have their  "eyes of seeing and eyes of remembering" open as they go through life.
Guest speaker Jake Sullivan encouraged the seniors to have their
“eyes of seeing and eyes of remembering” open as they go through life.

Sullivan spoke of his hope that the graduates would have both “the eyes to see and the eyes to remember” in reference to those whom Christ would bring into their lives and to the need to remember the graces they have already received.

Now teaching basketball and using it as a means of Christian outreach, Sullivan discussed his time helping as a missionary to Ghana and his role in building an orphanage in the African nation. He also spoke of his time in the city of Sarh, Chad, a former French colony and heavily Muslim nation south of Libya and the Sahara desert.

In addition to his time overseas, Sullivan coaches youth basketball in the Des Moines area, where, seven years ago, one of his first fifth-grade prospects was Perry senior Claire Marburger.

Sullivan spoke for approximately 30 minutes, after which Ostransky and Weishaar led the crowd in a hymn, with Rev. Compton adding a benediction before the crowd dispersed for refreshments.

In an interview with after the baccalaureate, Sullivan said his faith had grown in strength and depth just before his senior year (2003-04) at ISU.

“I had become casual in my faith, but had an awakening of sorts,” he explained. “A big moment came for me five years later, in 2008, when I started looking at some of the men in scripture and asked myself ‘Does my life look like any of these men’s?’ which really increased my desire to live a life devoted to Christ.”

He first went to Africa as a missionary and basketball instructor when he became involved in the cause of adoption. He and wife Janel (who, in full disclosure, was covered by this writer during her prep sports career at Green Mountain-Garwin) are the parents of three children they adopted from Ghana.

Photos by Jeff Webster.


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