Richness not in wealth

Scott Kvandal
Scott Kvandal, pictured with wife Michelle, has found a new richness in life

Cheap florescent-colored pants were the final straw for Scott Kvandal, whose family was too poor to afford anything better at the time. He swore to make a better life for himself that day.

"The jokes of my friends about things like those pants were embarrassing, and I became angry at my mother and father," Scott recalls.

His parents were content with their simple lifestyle but Scott could not understand why they loved serving God even though he allowed them to live in poverty.

"My parents did the best they could but that was not good enough for me. Eventually, my embarrassment led to anger at their God."

At age 14 Scott says he made up his mind that by the time he was 50 years old, he would do whatever it took to have enough money to buy whatever he wanted, to go anywhere he wanted and retire early.

Determined to work hard to reach his goal, Scott studied civil engineering and used a full scholarship at Stanford University to earn his Masters of Science in Environmental Engineering.

Then years of hard work finally paid off after he was promoted to president of a small company and accepted an offer to sell the company to a larger firm.

"But, I had a surprise that day that I never anticipated," Scott says. "As soon as I received the check in my hand, the proceeds from selling the company, I had a feeling of emptiness in my heart."

“I had a feeling of emptiness in my heart”"I realized that my goal was not going to make me happy. After working for nearly 30 years, and then to realize it did not produce the result I wanted, made me depressed."

Looking back today, Scott says it is painful to consider the cost of the selfish life he had chosen to lead.

"I got divorced from my beautiful and caring wife and my two wonderful children turned away from me because of my sins," he says honestly. "I did not feel life was worth living after that."

Then one day, a young woman asked Scott if he would like to attend a small church service with her and he accepted the invitation after developing an interest in her.

"I wanted her to like me, so I said I'd go but that day something else happened that I didn't expect," he recalls.

"As soon as I walked through the doors of the gymnasium, I felt God speaking to my heart somehow."

Scott knew he could not hide his wrong motives and sins from God.

"Since my youth, I knew who God was. I even knew He had sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for me."

Yet Scott knew that this "head knowledge" did not put him right with God because he had made no effort to develop a personal relationship with Jesus, in fact he had not acknowledged God in his life at all.

"God's voice penetrated my heart that day as He said, 'I gave you everything you wanted; a beautiful family, money, success and I gave it all to you four years before your goal. So, how are you doing?'" Scott says.

"God knew I was miserable and broken as a result of a sinful life because I was living so far from Him."

After the service Scott felt God's gentle nudge asking him if he was ready to pray for forgiveness, give up his old lifestyle and allow Jesus to guide him instead.

"That day, I received Jesus as my personal Savior, not a word was spoken by anyone else, it was just between me and Jesus Christ," he says.

That silent prayer was a fresh start. Scott knew he would continue to suffer from the consequences of his past mistakes but he also knew that God had forgiven him and would not count his wrongs against him anymore.

"God gave me new life. That same woman, who invited me to the meeting at that elementary school, became my wife," he says.

After making the commitment to live in a way that would honor God, Scott and his wife say God changed their life perspective after they took the missions opportunity to see His work in the small town of Humberto in Argentina.

Out of this stemmed an incredible heart and ministry through "Su Refugio – Your Refuge", a place they established in Paraguay in 2008, which includes a church, a children's orphanage and a feeding center for street children.

"It's a special place where children with empty stomachs can be filled with nourishing food, their minds filled with a quality education, and their hearts filled with God's love," Scott says.

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