Student Testimonies


Eric Jones

VOX Youth Creative Arts Coordinator at Valley Family Church - Class of 2014

"It seems like just yesterday I was a young 18 year old moving into the EC housing"

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Now, all these years later, I am still experiencing the benefits of the life changing time I had during my two years of EC. EC is so much more than a program. It is a launch pad that has propelled me to being the man and the leader I was born to be.

Josh & Jaila Rykse

Married & Flex Club Directors at Valley Family Church - Class of 2013

"I couldn't be more thankful for the impact that EC had on my life"

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Josh - Coming out of High School, I was desiring a foundation and deeper relationship with the Lord. During my time in EC, God's Word is what really transformed my life and gave me the foundation that I was looking for. To this day, I still go back to many of those scriptures that impacted my life! Not only did I get that foundation but also got top notch hands on ministry experience, found some of my best friends, and ended up marrying my beautiful wife a couple years after EC! We are now on staff and overseeing the middle school aged ministry here at Valley Family Church called Flex Club. I can't say enough good things about Pastors Eric and Erica and the leadership they provided!"

Jaila - Epic Commission had a huge part in steering me into the right direction during my transition from teenage to adulthood. When I was a senior in high school I knew I needed help developing a solid foundation and identity in who I was as a women of God and EC was the right step to take. From the discipleship classes and prayer to the hilarious family nights, I was able to find my identity in Christ and continue to build a foundation of faith because I was constantly around God loving peers and roommates that were all chasing God at once. I loved that EC taught me the importance of setting time aside to seek the Lord and speak the Word of God over my life. I learned how to date the right way, with the Lord at the center and to guard my heart. Now, I am married and my husband and I are both EC alumni; we are still applying the practical life lessons and discipleship classes taught by Pastors Eric and Erica into our lives. EC was the right next step for me and I know it will be for you!

Austin Castle

Pharmacist - Class of 2012

"I could not believe the spiritual growth and hunger that I experienced during EC"

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My name is Austin Castle, and I had the opportunity to join EPIC Commission back in 2010. I had essentially no idea what I was signing up for, except the peace in knowing that I was being obedient to what God told me to do. I could not believe the spiritual growth and hunger that I experienced during EC. The most valuable things that EC did for my life was teaching me how to pray, how to be led by the Spirit of God, and how to continually give my life to Him. After two years of EC, I enrolled in pharmacy school, where my love for Jesus and faith in Him has been tested repeatedly. I am extremely grateful for the two years of preparation that I got to spend with the Lord before going out into the world.

Luke & Kelsey Jones

Married & Current Students at Hillsong International Leadership College - Class of 2013

"I think the true beauty of what I experienced in Epic Commission is how much the Lord can transform a heart if you just give Him room to do so"

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Luke - Epic Commission was monumental for my college years. I went away for the first year of college to a school on the east side of the state and had a great year. There I made great friends, but it wasn't until I moved back to Kalamazoo and did EC that I made relationships that would help carry me into my future.

Epic Commission was so many things for me. This is where I made lifelong relationships, heard God's voice clearly, and learned to be a student of the Word. I met my wife during EC and through our dating years we learned how to do it the right way. We learned how to lead a pure relationship while developing strong values and having a ton of fun together.

Being discipled by Eric and Erica is such an honor, and I owe a lot of my spiritual growth to their leadership and friendship. I am so thankful that they were always there for me to talk with and always challenged me to grow and to turn to Jesus as the source of our lives. I am forever grateful for the years I did EC. I am a stronger man, a better husband and hungrier for God because I chose to give God two years of my life to do whatever He wanted to.

Kelsey - I enrolled in Epic Commission after being a Christian for around 14 months. I started EC fresh and eager to learn, a bit nervous, but completely in love with Jesus. I journeyed the college track, taking full-time credits at Western Michigan University and working part-time while enrolled in EC. For the first year, I was determined to find “me” - to discover who I am in the Lord, whom He had made me to be, and why knowing this in my heart is so important. I am thankful that I was accompanied by a community of women who were pursuing the same discovery I was - all cheering each other on and helping each other move forward. I learned in my first year of EC to not be swayed by opinions and thoughts of others, but rather to look upon my heavenly Father for approval and acceptance. I knew little of the Bible or how to live a Christian life, and feeling a call to ministry I knew it was important to grasp. Being in Epic Commission allowed me to be immersed in a safe environment to ask questions and learn at an accelerated rate. I started dating my now husband, Luke, while we were in Epic Commission together and I truly believe it has helped our marriage flourish. We had so much fun while we were dating in EC, talking about classes and learning how to trust God more. During my second year of Epic Commission I learned what it’s like to invite others on the journey with me: how to mentor and disciple in the midst of being mentored and discipled. I think the true beauty of what I experienced in Epic Commission is how much the Lord can transform a heart if you just give Him room to do so.

Amiq & Amber Gill

Married & Worship Leader at Valley Family Church - Class of 2011

"We learned foundational truths about how to live Godly lives so that our relationship honored and pleased the Lord"

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Amiq & Amber Gill - EC was absolutely essential for both of us during those first two years after high school. We got to know each other better within the safe boundaries of the program and we started dating in the second year. We learned foundational truths about how to live Godly lives so that our relationship honored and pleased the Lord. Everything that was taught in EC set us up and led us into a blessed marriage and fruitful family. Because of EC we know how to lean upon the Holy Spirit, trust God, and use our faith in practical ways for everyday life. This is the way to live life and it has transformed the way we are raising our family. We are so thankful for Pastors Eric and Erica. Their wisdom and guidance has brought us to where we are today. EPIC Commission is the keystone for success, unleashing your potential, and reaching God's highest and best for your life.

Olivia Cordes

Nurse - Class of 2013

"My heart for the local church grew and I realized the role I have in serving God through His church"

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My name is Olivia Cordes and I graduated from EC in 2013! EC was definitely not in my plans. I did not feel called into the ministry, but instead felt called to go into nursing. With nursing being a competitive and streamlined program, I didn't see any way that doing EC made sense for me. However, God had different plans for me - and I am so grateful that He did! During my two years in EC I was able to glean from the wisdom of many incredible leaders. My capacity increased as I was stretched to be greater and do more. I spent invaluable time in prayer and Bible classes. My heart for the local church grew and I realized the role I have in serving God through His church.

The impact of my experience in EC now permeates every aspect of my life. I am thankful that I did EC on a daily basis. Whether I am in the role of student, employee, athlete, or housemate, I find myself reflecting back to what I learned in those two years. I continue to stay in touch with many friends whom I met in EC. They always challenge me to reach higher and pursue Jesus more. EC did not ease all of my doubts, answer all of my questions, and ensure uncomplicated experiences. Rather, it showed me how to face my doubts, ask the hard questions, and learn from each experience. My time in EC did not make me who I am today. Instead, it enabled me to be who God has called me to be.

Camden Pilger

Family Ministries Media Specialist at Valley Family Church - Class of 2016

"Not only did EC change my friendships, but it also changed my faith."

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EPIC Commission has drastically impacted my life! EC has provided me with lifelong friendships that are stronger than ever, even after I graduated the program. EPIC Commission allowed me to find the friends that I know I can go to at anytime in life, for any reason, and get instant support and prayer. Not only did EC change my friendships, but it also changed my faith. Through the various classes, I have learned a lot about myself, about God, and about what God has for me. If it wasn’t for EC classes; I would not have the faith I have now, the skills to resolve conflict, the principles of how to save money, how to plan for my future, and have the confidence in God and His promises. If you want to grow and be stretched relationally and spiritually, then by far the best place to do that is in EPIC Commission!

Parent Testimonies

Jim & Katie Seifert

"EC is such a tremendous program! What a blessing it has been for our daughter and our son!"

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We have witnessed that they have a much greater understanding of the Bible and its teachings, and they’ve demonstrated God’s love in their everyday interactions with others. We’ve also seen a big increase in responsibility and maturity.

EC will makea HUGE difference in the life of your son or daughter!

Nate & Mary Rykse

"He has gained a practical, grounded, Biblical foundation of life skills and friendships that will last a lifetime (literally)"

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Our son, Joshua, originally was looking to go to college and a different discipleship program out of state but when he heard about Epic Commission at Valley Family Church he was really interested and decided to participate. As his parents, we watched him grow in his personal relationship with Jesus that gave him a boldness to share his faith and love for the Lord with others. He has gained a practical, grounded, Biblical foundation of life skills and friendships that will last a lifetime (literally). Pastors Eric and Erica Giesow are outstanding leaders that care personally and deeply for each student. We will always be grateful for the way that EC has equipped Josh and so many young adults to live out their faith and live for The Lord.

Beth Wilson

"EC gave Kelsey a foundation that will sustain her the rest of her life"

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In high school, it seemed that Kelsey was searching for something. She had friends but the sincerity was not there. In her Junior year she started attending VFC youth group on Sunday nights. We were kind of at odds with each other a lot at the time. I felt kind of lost as to how to make her life better and easier. I guess that was something I could not do. She had to do it on her own. After graduation, she told us she wanted to attend Epic Commission and at first I was skeptical. It seemed kind of extreme and did not know a lot about the pastors or the church's involvement. We went to a parents meeting as well. I could see that it meant a lot to Kelsey to be part of this discipleship program and I knew a couple other kids that wanted to be a part of it as well. I got a lot of questions from friends and family members about the program because of the living arrangements and the rules. Kelsey was attending Western at the same time and I was impressed at how EC supported a college education. Moving into the EC condos was organized chaos and her journey began. I saw almost an immediate change in Kelsey. She seemed more connected with us and herself. I prayed that this is what she needed in her life to make it more complete and it was. She grew as a disciple of God and as a person. She gained patience, understanding, knowledge and so much more from the EC program's first year. She felt like a valuable person again. I am grateful for that. The second year program gave her even more leadership abilities than she had before. Kelsey's teachers always said she would be a leader, but we never know if we will embrace that quality or let it lie dormant. She has confidence, problem solving abilities and basic life skills from the EC program. She tells me when her car needs an oil change instead of the other way around. I feel that EC gave Kelsey a foundation that will sustain her the rest of her life. It compiled so many life lessons into two years and has made her prepared to be a disciple of God and be proud of it, not to mention proud of herself. I believe she can do anything she puts her mind to and has the Lord to back her up. Thank you VFC and Pastor Eric and Erica for your vision and realization of the EC program. Kelsey was truly blessed to have been a graduate of this amazing program. Thank you for supporting the parents along the journey as well.