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By Fritz Boyle

I think the most embarrassing thing about my freshman year of college was the fact that I struggled with lust. If reading that makes you feel uncomfortable— don’t worry about it because I can 100% guarantee I feel way more uncomfortable about you reading it than you do.

This struck me as the most fundamentally humiliating thing there was to know about me. I had absolutely zero intention of telling anyone about it, well . . . ever. (Which should explain to you why I’m writing about it now on a public forum.)

I ended up going to a local church Women’s Night because my friend Kate Arnold told me they had really good food. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that actually, the point of the women’s night wasn’t just the good food, but so that everyone could sit around eating good food and talk about Jesus and their feelings and everything else going on in their lives. Anyways, there was maybe 35 women there and at some point they had an open mic session where anyone could stand up in front of the whole crew and talk about how God had been working in their lives.

There was about two minutes of intensely awkward silence before Kate Arnold (what a gem) went to the front and shared some things, and sat back down and the rest of us were left sitting there staring at each other.

I can’t really explain to you everything going on in my brain at that moment. I knew that I had to say something, because, really, what sort of Christian would I be if I couldn’t even stand up in front of a group of other believers and talk about how good our God was? But the only thing I could think to talk about was how I was struggling with all of this sin in my life and how I knew that God loved me so incredibly much that he sent his son to die for that sin.

I also knew that under no circumstances would I ever, in a hundred million years, stand up and talk to this group of 35 adult women about how I was struggling with lust; but I serve a God who loves me enough he sent his son to die for me so I could trust that he wasn’t going to just up and leave because I couldn’t get my freaking Christian act together.

So, though I wrestled internally, I got up behind that microphone and shared – except there was a whole lot more blubbering and tears going on.

And I remember sitting back down and having three or four people offer me tissues and just thinking that that was the most humiliating thing I had ever experienced ever and it helped absolutely no one because Dear Lord in Heaven I was crying so hard no one could even understand me.

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I wanted to leave right after the thing ended but Kate wanted to gab with every single person there individually, so I was stuck awkwardly smiling and nodding at the stream of well-meaning-middle-aged women who came up to me afterwards to tell me that everything was going to be alright and so on and so forth. We were finally headed out the door when someone else stopped to talk to me.

“I just wanted to thank you, because your testimony was the only testimony that touched my heart this entire night.” She looked like she was about to cry, which made me feel a little bit better because I was still hardly holding it together. “God has felt so distant from me, and I’ve been wondering what else there is I can possibly do to be close to God again. But you’re right. He’s not just going to up and leave us because we’re struggling.”

God uses everything to further His kingdom, even the most unattractive parts of us. Of course, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t address the sins in our life. Being proactive about the kind of change God is bringing to fruition in our lives is essential to following Jesus. But He uses sinful people, and broken people. That’s just the way it is.

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By Devin Vander Werff

When Jesus died to save me, he not only saved me from sin, but saved me to new life. For me, new life has come in the form of incredible people and opportunities. When I was in high school I went on the same mission trip for three of my four years. In addition to the work we did on this trip I started to build relationships with friends and adults from northwest Iowa. We had a great time serving and it was crazy how fast relationships came together.

During my senior year, it was a very easy decision to choose Northwestern. Many of the adults from my mission trips told me I would be a good fit. Now that I am here on campus I have mentors that I can meet with on a regular basis. These people have been such a blessing to me. Last fall I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life and then found out that I had no idea. These people listened to me and helped guide me in the right direction. In addition to great mentors, God filled my life with great friends. Coming to campus was exciting and a little nerve-racking since I had no friends except one kid that went to my high school. However, the first few weeks I met so many fun, exciting, loving and awesome people. As the year went on, I kept making new friends but grew close with a few. We have done a ton of fun stuff together, but they have also blessed me by helping me out with studying, playing on the basketball team, and other activities. God has given me an incredible amount of opportunities from things as little as getting doughnuts on Friday nights, to dorm events, to getting to go on an SSP and all the other ways to get involved on campus. It seems like I never had to seek out any of these things or people, they just happened by the work of God.

When Jesus died to save me, he not only saved me from sin, but saved me to new life. I don’t know why God has been so good to me, but I do know that it has nothing to do with me. I didn’t do anything to deserve this, it is 100% up to God and His plan. As a result, my only response is to reciprocate. Since God has blessed me, I am to be a blessing. I don’t try to ‘live the right way’ so that I can be blessed. I try to ‘live the right way’ since I have been blessed. Obviously, this is a goal that I am striving to attain. There are relationships that I have screwed up, feelings that I have hurt and situations that I handled poorly. I am clearly not perfect at being a blessing, but with God’s grace I strive to do it every day.

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By Nnenna Nwaelugo


A brief background on my life: I was born in Nigeria, but grew up in Gambia and Ethiopia. My dad is a doctor, mum works for the African Union, I have 4 siblings, and we were raised in a Catholic charismatic household. For as long as I can remember I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life and in the life of others all around me. I believed in miracles and in the power of answered prayers and never for a second doubted that there was a God and he loved me.

I’ve always lived among a diverse group of people, moving within and between countries, and going to private international schools. So, the idea of people who were completely different simply loving each other and living life together was not only plausible, it was a way of life for me. I firmly believed that this was God’s plan for humanity. However, when it was time for me to go to college, I made a decision that would test that faith more than I had ever imagined – I decided to leave home.

Coming here to Iowa, I was exposed to a world totally different from the one I grew up in. I left the safe bubble that my parents and my community had cultivated for me and ventured out into “the real world” for the first time. It was also the first time I realized that Christians were capable of hate.

Before I elaborate, let me make it clear that I would have realized this eventually regardless of where I went, and it may be completely coincidental that it happened here. So, with that said, I begun to have deep conversations with several fellow Christians students who expressed very strong negative views on homosexuals and people from other religions – hatefully negative views. I experienced racism for the first time, also coming from said Christians. I saw people use their faith as a justification to think and openly say rude and degrading things about other groups of people, not always aware that a member of that group was among the crowd they were speaking to.

By the end of my freshman year, after talking to some of the targets of such remarks, I was ashamed to be called a Christian. We were the ones claiming to serve a God that IS love, a God that embodies love in everything he says and does, yet we are not able to see that our distaste, discomfort, whatever word you please, of people who were different from us was NOT love.

There is a silver lining to this seemingly drab story. I feel like I’ve grown 5 years older in the two years I’ve been in college. I was forced to look inside myself and confront those same tendencies I was ashamed of seeing in other people. When I went home this summer, it was clear to everyone I used to know that something had changed. I believe that this was God’s wake-up call for me, that just because I thought and said I was a believing Christian didn’t mean I was actively following Christ.

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By Kyle Swart

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” –African proverb

I often like to do things alone, keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, and stay in the background. However, God, in his infinite wisdom and humor, made me 6’7” and placed me in Hospers Hall three years ago. That made staying in the background a bit tougher, but I think I’m starting to see why.

Henri Nouwen, in his book, In the Name of Jesus, encourages us as followers of Jesus to “do it together” just as Jesus did with his disciples. God has been revealing this to me during my time here at NWC through an unexpected bond with my roommate, Levi Schaeffer.

I came into freshman year pretty bummed that my roommate was going to be a band geek from some Podunk town in South Dakota who wears fedoras (based on my Facebook stalking). And I know Levi wasn’t looking forward to rooming with a stuck-up jock (my profile pic was of me playing basketball). So, I was just hoping that there would be other people in my dorm who would be “cool” that I could be friends with. However, being in Hospers means that didn’t happen. But with some time, God somehow started forming a strong friendship between my roommate, Levi, and I. I had never had a friend that I talked about faith or deeper topics with; but through going to church with Levi, bonding over our peculiar interests in soundtrack music and wolves, and just living life together as a freshman at NWC, we slowly started building a genuine friendship. It was truly God’s perfect timing for me, as I was figuring out my faith while struggling through all the ideas brought up in Christian Story 1 and 2 – not to mention living independently for the first time without the faith of my parents and family so readily accessible.

Through Levi, God showed me the value of relationship and opening up to other people about my personal faith. Since our first day on campus as freshmen, we’ve gone on a Spring Service Partnership (SSP) trip, been a part of Campus Ministry, and have gone on the Black Hills Retreat together to name just a few things. These shared experiences really pushed us out of our comfort zones, helped us grow a much more meaningful friendship, stretched us into abandoning so many of our pre-conceived judgments, and allowed us to uniquely experience God together.

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So what I’ve learned here at NWC is this; it’s always worthwhile to invest in another, because who knows, that person might just become a friend. Getting involved in the Raider community can start by investing in just one person, but it definitely does not have to stop there. If I could give my freshman self any advice, I’d tell him, “Get involved in activities on campus, drop your stereotypes of the people you meet, be genuinely curious, and be willing to open up to them. They might not be as lame as you think.”

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

-Ecclesiates 4: 9-10

Kyle Swart (and Levi Schaeffer)