Silveus_600x300Hannah (Miller) Silveus ’12 moved across the country to Billings, Montana, to begin a career in public health. But what she found there was an unexpected opportunity for ministry.

After graduating from Bethel College with a double major in biology and liberal studies, Hannah (Miller) Silveus ‘12 applied for the Public Health Associate Program, a two-year training initiative through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Her assignment was to work at the Yellowstone County Public Health Department.

The Public Health Associate Program is designed to give recent college graduates a broad range of hands-on experience in public health, providing a foundation for their future careers. For Hannah, this meant spending a year focused on chronic disease and population health services and a year on maternal and child health.

Her work produced such great results that she was featured on the CDC website and offered a position with the National Center for Environmental Health after her two-year assignment was up.

“[With the CDC] I worked on a quality improvement project that looked at ways to increase participation with WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clients after they signed up,” she says. “I also managed a farmer’s market, was a nutrition educator for WIC, helped with a community garden and designed and implemented a road and bicycle safety campaign.”

Silveus-Montana State

The Silvueses’ are carrying these lessons with them as they prepare to move to Bosman, Montana, where Neil will pursue a master’s degree in applied economics at Montana State University, and Hannah will work in healthy housing and lead poisoning prevention at the Galvin City Health Department. They hope to open a room in their new home to another couple and continue intentionally living in community.

All the while, Hannah was living at Hannah House, an outreach of Community Leadership & Development, Inc. (CLDI), a faith-based organization dedicated to “rebuilding lives, restoring families and re-neighboring communities on the South Side of Billings, Montana.” She served as a mentor and roommate for residents, which included women in crisis and those overcoming addictions. She also became involved in a house church and developed a heart for the South Side Billings neighborhood.

Her husband, alumnus Neil Silveus ’13, joined her in Montana following his graduation from Bethel. He got a job working in quality assurance with a software company, and the couple moved to 316 House, another ministry of CLDI. This renovated townhome hosts programs for at-risk youth.

Because Neil had participated in Bethel’s Urban Ministry Experience, living and serving in the Keller Park Neighborhood in South Bend while he was a student, he was enthusiastic about pursuing a similar living arrangement in Billings.

“When I did urban ministry senior year [at Bethel], I found that I really like close neighbors,” Neil says.

And though the Silveuses moved in thinking they could make an impact in the community, they found themselves needing their neighbors just as much as their neighbors needed them.

“We did move into the neighborhood thinking we could make a difference, but we’ve realized we were the biggest recipients,” Neil says. “God is working through us. We’ve been humbled by how much we’ve been blessed.”

Hannah adds, “It’s a mutual need for relationship and community.”

In August 2014, the couple helped launch Timothy House –another ministry of CLDI. There, alongside another Christian couple, they’ve spent the last year “discipling” college students and helping show God’s love to the neighborhood.

“When I think of why I’m here, the CDC is secondary,” Hannah says. “God has used our jobs to get us here, but it hasn’t been our primary purpose. We love this community and have a willingness to grow – and I attribute that to our time at Bethel.”

Learn more about Bethel’s Urban Ministry Experience and intentional living opportunities.