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By Caley Vink

During the summer of 2017, I was working in the local county tax assessor’s department as an intern. I’m not typically a fan of working with numbers, but as it was my first real “grown up job”, I was excited about it. At this government job there was a woman, we’ll call her… Amanda, who was a secretary in the office. One day at work I overheard her talking to someone about some severe discomfort she’s had in her foot for over a year. The scientific name was plantar fasciitis. It was a sharp pain in her foot that made it so that she only found comfort by walking in a certain pair of wedges that took the pressure off her heel. But the moment she took the shoes off, terrible pain made it difficult for her to walk and sometimes sleep at night. I could hear in her voice how weary she was of dealing with it.

When she had finished explaining it to the other woman, I relaxed into my creaky swivel chair, contemplating her words. I thought, “It’s a little risky to ask to pray for people at a government office.” Most government offices are not typically places that are very hospitable to the expression of one’s faith in the way that I was planning to express it. But, I knew my boss was a Christian and I felt that he wouldn’t have a problem with me offering to pray for her healing. And so, compelled by the truth that I know how my Father loves and cares for me, and how he desires for me to be well mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually; I also knew that those same truths applied to Amanda. So, with that in mind, I decided to step out in faith. Which, for the record, is something that I have had to grow into.

I approached Amanda privately and asked if I could pray for her healing. She welcomed it, and as she sat in a chair I got down on my knees and placed my hands on her feet. I reached out to God and asked Him to heal her. I spoke of how pain does not belong to us and that we know this to be true because of what Jesus did on the cross. I rebuked the pain and commanded it to leave Amanda in the name of Jesus. I told her feet to line up with the Word of God, and I welcomed the healing that comes from the Lord to make the nerves, muscles, tissues, and bones of her feet like new again.

Our shared time of prayer lasted about a minute. Afterward she thanked me, and although she couldn’t test her foot for healing right then, she promised to check for it when she went home that evening. The next morning Amanda approached me, her face was alit with joy and tears were in her eyes. She proceeded to tell me that when she went home the night before and removed her shoes, the pain she was so accustomed to was totally gone. Filled with gratitude she told her husband what had happened, and the two of them continued to praise God throughout the night. They were so excited about it that they could hardly sleep!

When she finished telling me this, a few tears slipped over my cheeks as I hugged her and thanked God with her. God had healed her, and for the rest of the summer I rejoiced inwardly each time I saw her wearing new shoes around the office.

Every time I see God work in these ways I am left grasping for words to describe it. Please be sure not to look at me as some expert who has it all together. I am constantly having to learn and to grow in the ways the Spirit leads me. I am just an ‘ordinary-Joe’ with an extraordinary heavenly father. But even in our ordinary lives, we are called to do as Jesus did and engage in the fight to crush injustice everywhere we go – even if it means doing so in a place, at a time, or with people that are out of our own comfort zone.

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By Krista Hovland

“If you don’t tell the story, God doesn’t get the glory.”

This past summer, over the course of just a few weeks I heard this phrase spoken by three different individuals on three separate occasions. The first time I paid attention because it was catchy and rhymed. The third time I said, “Okay God; point made.”

Growing up in a Christian household, knowing and loving Jesus since a young age, I felt like it should have been easy and natural for me to share with other the ways in which He has worked and is continuing to be present in my life. But throughout my childhood and teenage years I found myself coming up with excuses to shy away from talking about the God who means so much to me.

So, one day, I prayed for an opportunity to tell someone about the ways God has been shaping me lately. My opportunity came sooner than I expected; just a few hours later an older couple from church who had invited me to their home for Sunday dinner. While sitting around the dinner table, this couple asked me how I had decided to student teach in Papua New Guinea this fall.

It was the perfect opportunity tell a story of how God closed and opened unexpected doors and definitely answered prayers. I felt God had been leading me to student teach abroad for a while, and I had put down several countries in Europe as my first choices. The summer before I handed in my application to go abroad I had a life-changing experience at camp where I discovered so much about the heart of God and my purpose as a Christian.

In the fall, I was in a crisis mode when my application was due in a few days and I now felt certain God did not want me to go to Europe. But I also had no clue where I should go instead. I turned in the paperwork with a desperate prayer that God would open or close the doors he wanted me to walk through. A few days later I received a rejection letter saying that the schools in Europe were not accepting student teachers at that time. I have never been so happy to receive a “no”. After a few more weeks of praying and seeking advice from others, I applied to a school in PNG and was accepted. I’ve been in awe of the number of connections I’ve found to this little island and the people living there since then!

Back to the dinner table this past summer: my answer could have recounted this amazing story pointing to the intervention of our personal and all-knowing God. Instead I responded with a general, “Well it sounded like a great experience, and I figured if I was going to go somewhere different it might as well be really different…” I had the chance to share a testimony of God’s work in my life with believers who would have celebrated with me, and even then, I let my doubt and fear dominate my actions. This was obviously an opportunity I had prayed for just hours earlier, but I was too afraid to take it.

By keeping stories of God’s work in our lives to ourselves, we are robbing him of His deserved glory and acknowledgment. It becomes too easy for us to persuade ourselves we did it on our own, or that a couple chance happenings led to the perfect coincidence. God is ever faithful and he will provide opportunities. Remembering who orchestrates our lives and sharing stories about answered prayers changes us in two ways: God gets the glory he is due, and our hearts remain thankful rather than prideful. This year I want to better proclaim the stories God has written in my life, in order that others see his glory in their own life as well.

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By Dana Van Ostrand


Most athletes know what it’s like to be completely exhausted after a difficult practice, conditioning, or a tough game. However, I wouldn’t know because I play golf. This being said, I do know what it’s like to place my athletics ahead of the ultimacy of following Christ. I know what it’s like to be completely empty after a bad performance because I invested my time, my energy, and even put my identity into my athletic abilities.

I was leading the state tournament my junior year of high school with only six holes to play, leading by three shots. I then proceeded to make four bogies in those last six holes to eventually go into a playoff (golf’s version of overtime) and lose on the second hole. I was absolutely devastated. I’d spent a majority of my time in those last months preparing for that exact day and moment. It had been my goal to win a state championship and I could taste it – not to mention that the championship was on my former home course, in my home city. I attempted to be gracious to the champion and to everyone who was supporting me and my team, but in that moment, I was truly empty. Everything that I had put my heart and effort into was over that year, and I had lost. I choked.

This was a difficult experience for me to deal with. It was through this experience that I learned a few things about my pursuit of excellence in athletics. The first and most important lesson that I learned from this was that all of my achievements, abilities, and accomplishments are only a reflection of the talents that God has given me. God has given me the opportunity to harvest the abilities that He’s endowed me with. Because of Christ, I play for the glory of God and represent Christ in all that I do, including on the golf course. Win or lose, all I can do is continue to play in light of this. As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for Lord rather than for men.” This means that in every tough practice, every strenuous weight room session, every difficult competition, we must pursue excellence in light of the ability that God has endowed us with.

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Christ calls us to bring every single part of our life to Him as He molds, shapes, and transforms us for His glory. There are a couple things that I do on the golf course that remind me of what is ultimate while I’m competing in golf tournaments. A part of my pre-shot routine is a short prayer that just says, “For God’s glory.” This is a reminder for me that this shot isn’t about my glory, but God’s. The second is that my golf ball is marked with a cross near the Northwestern logo. This is another constant reminder for me on the golf course of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Jesus. Hitting a little white golf ball with a stick into a cup seems a lot less important in light of this. God has called us to be in the world, not of it, and part of this is pursuing excellence in athletics for His glory, not for our own.

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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)