Past pupil: Todd Carlson

1. Briefly describe yourself as a person, where you are living and what you are doing in your vocation.
-I was born in Johannesburg and moved to the United States when I was 16. I am currently residing in Idaho, USA, with my wife, Bethany. We have a vizsla dog named Milo, named after the drink.
-I would describe myself as an extroverted, authentic, adventurous, and a hard-working individual. I have always enjoyed seeking challenges and enjoy the networking and achievements that come from those challenges.
-For vocation, I am paramedic on an ambulance and a lab instructor for a local EMT school.

2. Please share your credentials, awards and achievements.
-I am a Nationally Licensed Paramedic
-Marketing and Global Business degrees
-Paramedic Science Degree

3. Share your journey to success and pivotal moments that lead to opportunities.
Leaving South Africa was a huge part of my story because it led to a lot of personal growth. God taught me reliance and what faith is. There is a lot of self-seeking and trust in God that happens with culture shock. After graduation I enrolled into Northwest Nazarene University to study marketing and global business. Here I met my now wife, Bethany. I was surprised at how much she pushed and challenged me. She played a huge pivotal role in my success in the way she challenged and humbled me. My father always told me growing up “you must humbly yourself or God will find a way to humble you”. Beth is the humbling he was talking about; she puts me in my place.

After graduation I struggled to find a business career. So, I took on a receptionist job at an urgent care. This was my first exposure to the world of medicine. After a year or so, God changed my career projection and I decided to go back to school and pursue the field of emergency medicine. I obtained my EMT certificate and then on to my paramedic degree. Throughout this experience God continually opened doors for me, doors that seemed impossible. This showed me that God did have a plan for me and why I need to depend on him. Once in the medical field I learned what it truly meant to demonstrate love and to act like Christ. I constantly ran into people that felt forsaken and forgotten. People that weren’t necessarily sick but had no sense of love in their lives. I was able to care for these individuals and show Christ’s love to those that are suffering and who felt forsaken. These areas and others have shaped me into the Christian I am.

All these experiences showed that God has been walking with me throughout my life. As the doors open for different opportunities it shows that God has a plan for me and that I have something to give back to him. He has given me unique skill sets that can help towards expanding the kingdom.

4. How are you “making a difference” (our school motto) and giving back?
My wife and I decided to make a change in our lives and to pursue missions. This next July we are moving to Lilongwe, Malawi. We will be serving with African Bible Colleges. My wife will be teaching Anatomy and Physiology in the high school. She will also be a nurse in the hospital. I will be coaching sports, teaching CPR courses, providing a variety of different trainings in the hospital for staff, and I am assisting in designing, building and equipping an emergency department (ED) for the hospital. I am acting as the project manager to the ED project.

We are both very excited for this season in Malawi. We are ecstatic for this time because we can use our passion for Christ and our skill sets to serve the people of Malawi. It is incredible how God uses our past experiences and uses it to morph us into being able to serve the people of Malawi. I never imagined God would have been able to combine both my business and medicine backgrounds.

5. What are your hopes and plans for the future?
This is currently the big question. Currently, all our plans are going to Malawi and we will see what develops from there. God may call us to a longer dedication to Malawi or back to the States.

6. How would you like to inspire learners to pursue their dreams?
The biggest thing I would say would be to embrace the challenges that are placed before you.

Romans 5:3-4
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I have begun to realize that over the last several years, my previous experiences and challenges provided a lot of growth. God seems to have utilized those difficult times and turned them into benefits. God doesn’t create suffering, but he uses those times as opportunities. So, when you reach difficult times ask yourself “how will I grow from this difficult time?”.

Another idea is, don’t make excuses. If you want to pursue a goal just go for it. Don’t tell yourself you can’t, don’t make the excuse. If you do, you may remain stagnant and end in regrets. The best opportunities often come from the biggest risks.