Phil’s story…

Phil Simmons

Retired Pilot, United States Air Force and SDA member

Florence, Alabama, USA


Phil Simmons was not a Seventh-day Adventist when he began his search for the truth. God led him to HopeLives365 Online University where he enrolled in several of Pastor Finley’s Prophecy and Bible Study online courses. We at Team Hope were looking at the online university’s enrollment report one day in the fall of 2018 and noticed a student in Virginia, named Phil Simmons, who had enrolled in several courses and was completing them in the early hours of the morning. We were not aware at the time that God had a plan for how we would meet and interact with this particular student.

Using the address on the HopeLives365 Online University eLearning portal, Phil drove to the building in Haymarket, Virginia hoping to meet Pastor Finley. The first time he came the building was closed. The second time he came Pastor Finley was conducting a seminar and one of the greeters told Pastor Finley that a person in the audience, named Phil, wanted to meet him and the HopeLives365 Online University’s team. At the conclusion of the meeting that night, Pastor Finley introduced Phil to Chris Sealey, the Director of Academic Programs and Operations for HopeLives365 Online University.

Phil began attending Sabbath services at the Living Hope Seventh-day Adventist Community Church in Haymarket, Virginia. After the midday service, he and Chris began studying the Search for Certainty lessons. Phil also continued studying the lessons online during the week. Later, he and Chris transitioned to in-home Bible studies.

In the summer of 2019, Phil moved to Alabama. He and Chris agreed to look for a church so he could continue his Bible studies. About 15-minutes from his new home in Alabama, he found the Shoals Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in Florence, Alabama. Chris contacted the church’s pastor and shared with him Phil’s “transcript” – all the courses he had taken online and all the Bible lessons that he and Chris had completed during his in-person Bible Studies. Pastor Pitt, who was the pastor of the Shoals SDA Church at the time, continued the work that God began in Virginia (John 4:37). In January 2019, Pastor Pitt baptized Phil as a member of the Shoals SDA Church in Florence, Alabama.

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