WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Nevis graduate is a pastor with a heart to serve
Editor’s note: The Park Rapids Enterprise launched a new series of articles called “Where are they now?” to highlight the achievements of Park Rapids, Nevis, Menahga and Laporte high school graduates. If you know of an alum from the area who has landed a unique or exceptional job, earned a prestigious award or performed an extraordinary task, contact editor Shannon Geisen at email@example.com.
Brandon Bellomo wasn’t a big churchgoer when he was growing up, but an experience when he was 17 set him on a path of ministry.
The 2005 Nevis graduate is the son of Vince Bellomo and Lori and Greg Wambolt and has been pastoring a church in Pierz for 10 years.
“Growing up, I attended some church services, youth gatherings and Vacation Bible School,” he said. “It was experiences like these that God used to plant little gospel seeds. God was helping me see my sin in the ways I treated others and revealing my heart to me.
“On the surface I was a model student in many ways. I was a three-sport athlete in high school, popular and getting good grades. But in my heart I was far from God and living for myself. I kept pushing it down through the years.
“On Aug. 14, 2004 I couldn’t push it down any more. God overcame my heart. I confessed my sin to him and trusted in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of my sins. I was born again. God put his spirit in me and I have not been the same since.”
Bellomo said his leadership experiences at Nevis School helped him as he went off to college and seminary.
“Also the discipline of sports,” he said. “And Mrs. (Jody) Sandmeyer was like a second mother and definitely the most influential person in my years at Nevis School.”
After graduation, Bellomo attended Northwestern College, now called the University of Northwestern, in St. Paul.
“I’ve always had a heart to care for youth and do mentorship,” he said. “In college, I worked with inner city kids from some really broken families in a ministry called Living Hope in northeast Minneapolis.
“One summer, we brought a group of young teen boys to the Nevis area to get them out of the city for an extended weekend camping trip at a family friend’s on East Crooked. Many of them had never had an experience like this before. It was so cool to bring them to a place I enjoyed so much growing up and share it with them.”
As part of his work with Living Hope, Bellomo recruited other college students to join the cause. That’s where he met his wife, Karin.
“I was at a booth and she came to check it out and later joined the Living Hope ministry,” he said. “As we got to know each other, eventually that flowered into a relationship, and we got married while we were still in college.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Bellomo went on to earn his Master of Divinity degree from Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis, where he focused on biblical and theological studies.
“God gave me a call to be a pastor and mature, godly people around me confirmed it,” he said.
Karin graduated with a degree in elementary education and taught school for a few years. “When the babies came along she became a stay-at-home mom, and is home-schooling all of our kids now,” he said.
Bellomo said his wife is a big part of his ministry. “She’s an incredible helpmate,” he said. “She shows so much hospitality and is so flexible and peaceful. She loves loving people with me, whether it’s the neighbor kids who join our family for dinner and family worship or opening our home to people from our church and outside our church. One Christmas Eve, we had 30 people come over. She’s such a servant and a source of wise counsel. And she’s been my biggest encourager for 15 years.”
The couple has five children. Daughter Hosanna is 10, son Silas is 8, daughter Zoe is 6, daughter Moriah is 4 and son Titus is 1.
“I like to call my family my little flock and my congregation the big flock,” he said. “My kids go on visits with me. It’s so sweet. The people at the nursing home just light up when the kids come in. My daughters bake stuff to bring to our neighbors and pass out literature about the Bible. That’s all their own doing. They see that they have a place in ministry, too.”
Bellomo has been the pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Pierz, a town of about 1,500 people between Brainerd and St. Cloud, for 10 years.
“It’s a hard-working, tight-knit farming community,” he said. “The church was started in 1999 and they were holding services in the school with about 75 people attending when I started my ministry there. We bought a building a couple of years later and renovated it. Now nearly 200 people attend services, and we’re in the middle of a building expansion process to have a new sanctuary and an addition with classrooms and office space because we’re bursting at the seams.
“We have a citywide Vacation Bible School that over 100 kids attend. We also have a robust youth group and many opportunities to help people apply the teachings from the Bible to their hearts and lives. The heart of our mission is helping other people come to know Jesus and help them grow and mature in their faith so they can be mentors to new Christians.”
Bellomo’s ministry has also impacted his family.
“My brother-in-law came to know Christ a couple of years ago and is now one of the worship leaders at our church,” he said. “My brother, Blaze Bellomo, has also come to know the Lord, and he and his wife and three daughters have recently moved to Pierz, become our next-door neighbors and have joined our church. The people of Pierz have become very dear to us. God can call us anywhere he wants, but for now we’re feeling the Lord is calling us to stay here.”
He said while he misses the lakes of northern Minnesota, he finds the farm fields just as beautiful in their own way.
“I love watching the crops grow,” he said. “There’s a big corn field across from the church. It’s such a built in reminder of what God is doing as we plant seeds of the Gospel.”