Mikko Sivonen, California Baptist University’s global consultant, enjoys fresh rye bread and the challenge of a volleyball match. But above all this, he has a love for something much greater. Sivonen has a heart that beats for the salvation of the peoples of the world.
As a global consultant, Sivonen has many opportunities to build relationships and minister to international students.
“My role entails teaching international chapel on Wednesdays and Fridays, and also connecting with TCKs, or third culture kids, which are American students who have grown up in a different culture. My role is also advocating God’s global purposes in general.”
“It is a beautiful thing to be able to engage different cultures, people from different nations,” he said. “My hope is to present a Christian, biblical worldview as clearly as possible to the international students; to show how God is in control from the beginning to the end, and how He is redeeming His people through Christ.”
“It can be difficult because we come from different cultural and religious, or spiritual, backgrounds,” he said. “People have different worldviews, so it is very challenging language-wise, and culturally.”
He continued to express his compassion for each of these groups and his commitment to present the message of Christ to all.
Originally from Finland, Sivonen came to the United States in 1996 on a volleyball scholarship to the California State University in Northridge. During his second year of col- lege, Sivonen realized that something was missing in his life and decided to surrender everything to Christ.
“God saved me out of my sin,” he said.
Sivonen transferred to CBU his senior year, after his current coach was offered a position to help establish the CBU volleyball program. While attending CBU, Sivonen grew deeper in his faith and created fond memories.
“I had never really read the Bible, and I loved taking the Bible classes,” he said. “I also had many people investing in my life.”
It was during this time that Sivonen met his wife, Heidi, a California native from Sun City. “It was 7 a.m., on the way to an athlete’s prayer that Rick York was leading. She ran track,” he said.
After graduating with a degree in business administration in 1999, Sivonen and his wife were married and returned to Finland, where they started a family. They have three beautiful children and are excitedly anticipating the arrival of their fourth.
In 2010, Sivonen moved back to the CBU campus, this time with a family, to serve a year as the global consultant for the International Program. He explained that the position involves a year-long commitment, and that another family will step into the role next fall.
Sivonen is serious about helping others to discover the fulfillment that can only be found through a relationship with Jesus. His hope is for his students to “see the big picture and find purpose in Christ; to find that the most satisfying thing in the world is to be in Christ… we’ve all been created to honor Him.”
“I’ve learned in the past few years that God gives you more joy and more satisfaction than you can ever imagine,” Sivonen said.
A passion to spread the gospel is apparent in Sivonen’s life, and he encourages others to join him in this dedication to the world. He inspires students to step out of their comfort zone and use their strengths to participate in ministry, regardless of their location. He challenges all students to befriend at least one international student, learn more about their life and consider inviting them home for the holidays.
“Love people like crazy and find out what blesses them most; that’s the way you find your niche in life,” he said. “Do this by doing what you enjoy the most; that’s your spiritual gift, that’s your talent.”