Aadesh Biswa was born in a refugee camp in Nepal. He lived there with his family while they waited to immigrate to the United States.
Life in Nepal was hard for Aadesh’s family and they struggled to make ends meet. Aadesh remembers waking up at 3 am to search for ingredients in the forest so his family could make curry over their fire.
Everyday someone from the family would take the 20-minute walk to the clipboard that listed which families would need to report for immigration information.
One day 12-year-old Aadesh was checking the clipboard when he saw his family’s name — they would be leaving for the U.S. soon. He rushed to tell his family who immediately began packing.
Shortly after, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Aadesh was disappointed. Kansas City was not what he imagined the U.S. to be like.
“I remember coming to America with such high expectations,” Aadesh said. “But, my sister and I, we wanted to go back to Nepal.”
Aadesh soon began school in the U.S. where he felt the need to quickly learn English. He spent hours studying the language. His hard work paid off as he was one of two students from his high school to be accepted into a summer science program at the University of Kansas. While there, he enjoyed the academic focus and living in the dorm.
One day, after his summer courses had ended, Aadesh went to his cousin’s house to see his cousin. When Aadesh walked into the home, he noticed his uncle was talking with two men. His uncle acted as a representative to the Nepalese community and often people would come to talk to him. Aadesh was uninterested in the conversation and respectfully avoided disturbing the men.
He searched the house for his cousin but soon discovered he was not there. Aadesh decided to leave but to do so would have to walk between the two men having a conversation with his uncle. As Aadesh came closer, he began to listen to the men’s conversation.
The two men were talking about an academy where students would learn and live in dorms, just like Aadesh had done during his summer courses. The men asked Aadesh’s uncle if his son, Aadesh’s cousin, would attend the school, Sunnydale Adventist Academy. His uncle said no.
“I don’t know why,” Aadesh said. “This is the most disrespectful thing in our culture, but I interrupted them. I said, ‘I’ll go.’”
Aadesh longed to go to SAA and he convinced two friends and his cousin to go with him. However, Aadesh was met with opposition from his parents and his pastor. His pastor warned Aadesh that Seventh-day Adventist Church was a cult, which concerned Aadesh’s mom. Aadesh’s family was also worried they couldn’t afford tuition. But because of the faithful support of the Iowa-Missouri Conference members, Aadesh’s tuition was paid for and he eventually persuaded his mom SAA was a quality school.
Aadesh, his friends and cousin found SAA’s courses challenging and struggled to keep up with their classmates. After only one week, Aadesh’s cousin left. Later Aadesh’s friends left, leaving Aadesh at SAA alone. Aadesh stayed for one semester then he too left.
“When I came back home, to the high school that I was going to, it just felt like I was back in a dumpster compared to what I had just experienced,” Aadesh said.
After Aadesh left SAA, he felt impressed by God to start a youth ministry in Kansas City. He met with his pastor at the time, the same pastor who warned him about joining a cult, and told him he desired to get youth more involved in the church. Aadesh had a PowerPoint presentation and facts to support why they should start a group. His pastor quickly dismissed the idea and Aadesh felt unsure how he could accomplish what he felt called by God to do.
Toward the end of his sophomore year, Anna Coridan drove Aadesh to visit friends at SAA. During the drive Anna revealed that she felt called by God to start a youth group in Kansas City.
“I told her, ‘Anna, you’re not going to believe this,’” Aadesh said. “So, I showed her what I’d been working on for months and she was like, ‘Let’s do it.”
Aadesh and Anna started a group where Aadesh and his friends would play at the park and then meet in Anna’s apartment to pray and have Bible studies. The group slowly grew to include more people. One day the group was meeting before a soccer tournament when they decided they needed a name. Together they brainstormed and eventually decided on NC4Y, New Change for Youth.
“I think we got second place at that tournament,” Aadesh said. “We were just so happy … we had an actual name, it was just amazing.”
During his junior year of high school, Aadesh’s father died. This was a difficult time for Aadesh and he turned to those in NC4Y for support. NC4Y leaders helped Aadesh in any way they could.
“NC4Y leaders would always ask me how I was doing,” Aadesh said. “And I hated that question.”
To avoid hearing the question, Aadesh began hanging out with a different group who tried to distract him from his sorrow. But Aadesh soon learned his friends’ values did not align with his own.
During this time the Coridan family invited Aadesh to attend a Revelation seminar by John Bradshaw. Every night there was an appeal to be baptized.
“I remember being convicted, every time Pastor Bradshaw would make an appeal to come up and say yes to baptism,” Aadesh said. “My whole body was trying to move forward, but my brain like was like, ‘No.’”
Aadesh did not go forward during the meetings, but he continued to hunger spiritually. While attending church one Sabbath Aadesh felt impressed to sell literature through Magabooking, which he started only two days later.
Aadesh experienced spiritual growth in the company of other young people who were on fire for God. He felt called to return to SAA for his final year of high school. However, Aadesh found himself in a difficult situation. The year prior he was awarded a $50,000 scholarship to any college, if he attended the same public high school he was enrolled in his junior year.
When Aadesh told his mom he would rather attend SAA than keep the scholarship, she was disappointed and strongly discouraged Aadesh from returning. He decided though that he would be a better person and a better man of God if he returned to SAA.
Upon graduation from SAA Aadesh wanted to attend Union College but lacked the finances. Instead, he attended community college but later dropped out so he could work to help his family pay bills.
Aadesh developed a plan so he could work while attending college, but he felt the plan was both complicated and drawn out. One day Iowa-Missouri Conference Ministerial Director Lee Rochholz came to Aadesh’s house and asked him his plans for college. After Aadesh explained his plans, Lee offered Aadesh the opportunity to attend SALT, an evangelistic training program at Southern Adventist University. Lee explained that afterwards Aadesh would return to the conference as a Bible worker. Aadesh was shocked, this was exactly what he wanted, an opportunity to work for God and further his education.
“I knew this was an answer to prayer,” Aadesh said.
At SALT, Aadesh felt the genuine call for affirming his faith through baptism. Aadesh privately spoke with SALT leader Douglas Na’a about baptism. Douglas told Aadesh that he could be baptized. Aadesh was shocked to learn that John Bradshaw would be baptizing him. While he had silenced the voice years before to answer John’s call for baptism, God had given Aadesh a second chance to follow the still small voice.
After returning to Missouri, Aadesh decided he still wanted to continue his education. He began looking for cheap community colleges so he could obtain a bachelor’s degree and then go to Andrews University for seminary. After some research, Aadesh found a nearby community college that was reasonably priced. He applied and was soon accepted.
When someone from the admissions team called Aadesh to inform him of his acceptance, Aadesh asked if there were any other scholarships available. The admissions team member informed Aadesh of a scholarship that offered a full ride. However, the requirements for the scholarship application, including an essay, were due in one week. The admissions team member advised Aadesh that it was too late to apply.
Aadesh was not dissuaded and applied for the scholarship anyway, meeting the deadline. He later received a phone call informing him that he won the scholarship.
“Receiving the scholarship was a big confirmation not only to my family, but also to my community because of the [scholarship] I had [previously] rejected,” Aadesh said. “Everyone was like, ‘What are you doing? You’re crazy.’ But now, I can say, ‘God takes care of what is His.’”