at a crossroads – rich schell

author: david davolt
published on: october 29, 2020

at 31 years of age, rich schell faced a crossroads, with three good options before him.

rich believed in jesus and knew how to read his bible and pray, thanks to a mother of strong faith. yet as he pursued a career and the money that would come with it, he drifted away from jesus. managing a large liquor store, he thought his career was in place. but his abuse of alcohol and a failed marriage had left him in ruins.

from childhood, rich has been impressed with his uncle jimmy, a graduate of northwest christian college (now bushnell university), who was ordained into the ministry in 1957. “i was 9 years old. i just thought he was such an amazing man who loved jesus. he is so kind and caring,” says rich.

throughout his teen years, whenever rich would sit down to read the bible, he would feel an urge to be a preacher. one day at age 13, he ran out to his mother, who was working in the garden, and said, “mom, i don’t have to be a preacher if i don’t want to,” resisting the strong urge.

he went on to attend eastern washington state college as a music major, then studied mathematics, sociology, and elementary education at boise state university. the thought of preaching became a distant memory.

rich’s brother-in-law bruce wheeler was a student at boise bible college at the time, in 1976. he and his wife (rich’s sister) darlene patiently talked to rich about jesus. when bruce showed him from 1 timothy 1:15-16 that he wasn’t the worst sinner like he thought and said jesus could still save him, rich surrendered his life to christ and was baptized on october 13, 1976.

bruce took rich with him to the bbc senior banquet in may 1978. as he listened to the upcoming graduates talk about their plans, ministry pulled hard at his heart. he wanted to leave the room but also thought, “i need to do that.” he later found out darlene was praying for him during the whole banquet.

bruce also took him on many calls, showing him what ministry was like and mentoring him.

the idaho state liquor dispensary had offered him a lucrative district supervisor position. mountain bell had also noticed his abilities and offered him an attractive job in marketing. meanwhile, he told bruce that if he attended bible college, he only wanted to study the bible, not be drawn into any denominational leanings.

bruce assured him bbc would meet his desires to study the word of god and, as rich sums up, “jesus and bbc won out!” he started classes in the fall of 1978.

boise bible college has shaped and formed my life for 42 years. i’m grateful.

rich schell

kenny beckman’s class systematic theology rocked his world. rich would leave class in tears, reflecting on god’s majesty and on how far he was from what god wanted him to be. he says the bible came alive in kenny’s classes.

his third year at bbc was the first year for new professors dale cornett and chuck faber, who brought powerful doctrinal truths into his learning experience. god’s wonderful, life-changing grace was made clearest in their classes and has gone with him throughout life and ministry. christian evidences, taught by faber, really shook him up. many times after class, he would pace around the parking lot, trying to soak in all the amazing things he’d heard.

during his later college years, rich and his wife teresa (married 1981) served as dorm parents. one evening in 1984, there was a knock at the door. teresa answered, screamed, and slammed the door! rich came running, and she said, “there’s a strange man at the door wearing camo!” he opened the door to find a hysterically laughing curt landreth and several others whom rich came to call the camo brigade.

rich was commissioned to form another kind of brigade when president dick ewing got tired of all the pigeons around campus, causing the mess that pigeons do. bbc was still in a rural area at the time. president ewing gave him money for some .22 birdshot ammo, and rich gathered up some guys, sending them out in the evenings with rifles to dispatch pigeons. rich says, “you’ll notice there aren’t any pigeons on campus today.”

asked to relate a prank, rich simply shrugged, saying, “there were so many . . . “

lifelong friends remain from rich’s bbc days. russell and amber grove graduated the same year. rich and danny harrod served in ministries ten miles apart for several years after graduation (yoncalla and drain, or, respectively). he completed an internship under phil abbott, leading to a close friendship. gary macomb was rich’s assistant manager, who also became a christian and fellow student at bbc. gary now serves as an elder at capitol city christian church. as a close friend, he was very supportive of rich, even sometimes helping to pay for his books and tuition.

life after boise bible college

rich went on to graduate in 1986 (he calls it the eight-year plan) with a bachelor of science in preaching. he served as the preaching minister in yoncalla, or for 4 years, then central christian (now capitol city christian) in boise for 5. he moved to illinois and completed a macm (master of arts counseling ministry) at lincoln christian university while preaching at southside church of christ in danville, il. he then preached at emmett christian church in emmett, id for five years, during which he started teaching part-time at bbc. in 2005 he transitioned to full-time at bbc and also started as a part-time counselor at eagle christian church. he semi-retired in 2018, continuing counseling at ecc and serving as an adjunct professor at bbc.

rich is always learning and always teaching. his idea of a good time is studying a reloading manual on a quiet evening, testing loads on the shooting range, and hunting as often as possible. he and teresa have led marriage seminars, including in anchorage, ak, and he preaches in various churches. he greatly enjoys having more time now to hike and hunt with his best friend bruce wheeler and spend time with family.

rich and teresa’s son kenny attended bbc; he is a staples store manager. he and his wife miki have a son cayden (10), and daughter ryanne (7). son josh and his wife sadie are bbc grads. josh works in a community-based rehab service and will soon be a certified psychiatric rehab practitioner. sadie teaches at cole valley school in boise. teresa, who attended ncc, also took some classes at bbc and has worked many jobs over the years supporting rich’s ministry.

even though they weren’t directly expressed then, the bbc’s values shaped rich’s education and experience. he found top-notch scholarship at bbc. humility was modeled by the faculty in spite of their amazing talent and education. he hadn’t grown up in church, so the community he found at bbc was just what a 31-year-old bachelor needed. innovation was practiced regularly, as theology wasn’t just cerebral but practically applied in the lives of people. rich sums up, “boise bible college has shaped and formed my life for 42 years. i’m grateful.”

explore further

2020-2021 school year at boise bible college learn more here