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What has tested your faith during your time at NWC?
 

The biggest test of my faith at Northwestern has been a tendency towards complacency. Don’t get me wrong, the faith-centered education I have received and the loving Christian environment of NWC has helped me grow in ways that couldn’t have happened anywhere else, but sometimes living out my faith on campus seemed too easy. In a place where it was assumed that I was a Christian, I didn’t have to defend my beliefs. In a time when I didn’t have to pay monthly bills or take care of a family, I began to feel self-sufficient. Those patterns continued to slowly progress to a point where God became something that made me feel warm inside rather than the purpose and reason for my existence. 

Since I also graduated from a Christian high school, this has been a long-time struggle for me, and the best antidote I can offer is to simply just spend more time with the Lord. If we (even partially) grasp the immensity of God’s love for us, that love will drive us to action. Despite my ups and downs, letting the Spirit lead me in a life of radical submission is so much greater than my own controlled life of dullness. 

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now? 

Expanding upon my answer above, God has been challenging me to spend more intentional time with just Him. I heard a sermon once by Francis Chan that pointed out the tendency for American Christians to be content with hearing other people’s experiences with God or attending a church service in order to gain direction rather than spending one-on-one time with God. He used the analogy of Moses (like religious leaders of today) going up the Mount Sinai to speak with God and then coming back down to tell the Israelites (us) what God had said.  

Boy, have I seen this in my life! The crazy thing is that I have the capability of meeting with God himself. I can literally go up the (figurative) mountain and speak with God! So many times I rely on chapel, a friend, or even class to get my “Jesus fill” for the day and I neglect to spend time alone with God. It seems ridiculous that I can talk with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, at any time, and yet I am too busy (or complacent). Now, as a senior, while I’m constantly seeking guidance for the future, fighting fear of the unknown, and doubting that my time at Northwestern made a difference, God is calling me up the mountain. He is always waiting. I just have to take a step. 

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How has your view of God changed or been strengthened since coming to NWC? 
 

For a long time I thought I had to get to a certain spot in my life and faith in order to be an instrument for God to use to build his kingdom. Once I’ve read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. After I have a degree. When I am a better Christian. These thoughts also played into the misconstrued notion that once I knew all the answers, then I would know what God’s will is for my life and suddenly have it all figured out. God doesn’t work like that. There’s this thing called sanctification and it’s a process, a lifelong process in fact.  

God’s will is a funny thing. I recently read a book by Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach To Finding God’s Will. (I highly recommend it.) This book helped me realize I will never suddenly have all of the answers or come to a point in life where I am good enough. God’s will is not a maze. There is no specific path that we should follow. God’s will isn’t about getting divine messages concerning what to major in, what job to take, who to marry, or where to live. God’s will for you and I is to be holy and live lives that bring honor and glory to the Father. God cares about our sanctification—becoming more and more like Christ.  

Don’t fret about your next step in life, whatever it may be. Take initiative and plan in humility, with the understanding and hopefulness that God ultimately controls the future. When it comes down to it, God’s will is both simple and difficult. Simple, because there are no hidden messages to uncover; difficult, because dying to self and living for Christ is much more difficult than choosing a major, moving, accepting a job, or marriage.   

What advice would you give to underclassmen regarding their personal faith walk while here at NWC? 

Foster good habits. Life is made up of a culmination of habits. Like I mentioned earlier, God is concerned with our sanctification. He wants us to become more like him. Our habits play a crucial role in this transformation. Pray. Read the Bible. Go to church. Have fellowship with other believers. Surround yourself with people who will encourage good habits. Don’t believe the lie that I all too often tell myself, “Once life slows down I will have more time to do X.” Life doesn’t slow down. Develop those godly habits now. Don’t wait.

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How has your view of God changed or been strengthened since coming to NWC?

With graduation literally right around the corner, I’ve been spending a lot of time reminiscing about my time at Northwestern: the first time I went to La Jua’s, the reaction of the audience when jazz band got to play in chapel, and the come and go of NWC-centric slang terms (does anyone even say “roots” anymore?). Out of all these experiences, though, my most memorable time at Northwestern was my entire first semester.

After I graduated high school, I figured that I had to have everything planned out before I came to college. I figured out my major, my endorsements, the friends I would have, and a definite plan for what my life was going to look like after college. Obviously, there were two things that were important to me then: myself and my plan. This fact alone primed me for what would be the most mind-blowing five months of my entire time at Northwestern.

I learned what it meant to understand things in context. Christian Story I with VB was the first time I delved deep into scripture and came to the surface having actually learned something. I knew verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:33, but I had never examined them as closely as we were called to in class. I was astounded by how much the meaning of a verse would change if a person only looked one or two verses above or below or even pulled out a biblical commentary. I know that this seems kind of elementary, but it really was the first time that I had ever done that. The same thing happened in Historical Perspectives and again in Lit Contexts. How had I gone for so long without comprehending this simple fact of life? Now, it seems completely bananas that I didn’t know how to do this. To understand an idea, story, or verse out of context was to misunderstand it completely.

The class that solidified this for me was FYS. We had to read a short story by Chimimanda Adichie called “The Danger of a Single Story.” If you don’t remember reading it, basically what happens is a woman is surprised at the hospitality and love of a different woman whom she had assumed the character of by the fact that she was wearing a hijab. This story was what completed the obliteration of my worldview. “The Danger of a Single Story” was essentially about trying to understand another person without first understanding their context. When you know where a person has been and what their strengths, passions, and struggles are, you can finally know them and truly love them for the child of God they were created and called to be.

I had been so entirely focused on myself and my own plan that I failed to recognize the contexts of the people around me, let alone myself in the context of God’s larger plan. Northwestern gave me the opportunities and skills to learn about his intimate design not only through academics and scripture, but also in the ways that I was able to know and love my peers and their stories and finally let go of my own plan. I’ve been in awe of his work in my life and the lives of others ever since.

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In your time at NWC, who (past or present) has shown you a bit of God’s love?

One very influential person in my life at NWC is Coach Carrie Krohn on the cross country and track team. She has been so helpful to me as I made the transition from Hesston College to here, and she is a person that I look up to a lot. She has given up so much of her time to write workouts, meet with us individually about training, and get to know each one of us on a personal level. She challenges us every single day to come to practice ready to give our all and she expects nothing less. Showing the love of God can be hard to do when life gets difficult or it feels like you’re not getting it back, but Coach Krohn has taught me to push through it and love everyone even if they don’t deserve it. It has been such a privilege to be coached by her, and she’s someone that I will never forget when I graduate from Northwestern.

What advice would you give to underclassmen regarding their personal faith walk while here at NWC?

My advice for underclassmen is to keep an open mind about your faith and listen to people who have differing opinions while still holding to a set of values that are unwavering. When you start to question your own person values, it’s easy to give into the temptations of this world, and it’s easy to pick up habits that you wouldn’t have normally given into. I think being strong in what you believe in and understanding why you believe it is key to not only grow in your spiritual life, but in all facets of your life as well. College is all about growing into the person you are called to be, so having a strong set of values and a rock (Jesus Christ) you can always fall back on will get you on the right track to being the best you. It’s a time to find out what you’re good at, and never settling for anything less than being the person you are made to be.

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now?

I think God is challenging me to grow now by throwing things in my life that I have never experienced before and making me learn to accept the outcome, even if it is failure. I have struggled with being afraid of failure all my life. However, God is showing me how to be confident without controlling things. For example, money has been one of those things that is always consuming my thoughts and has kept me from being the person I want to be. God has put a beautiful woman whom I love in my life to show me that money isn’t everything and that I don’t need to solely depend on it to live my life. God loves me, rich or poor, and ever so slowly I’m realizing that money is a materialistic thing that won’t travel with me when I die. However, my relationship with God is forever, and I’ve got this life to live and focus my whole heart on God.

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What attribute of God has been the most evident in your time at NWC?

In the past four years at Northwestern God’s faithfulness has been overwhelmingly evident. When I look back on my time here, I see the ways in which God has orchestrated every detail to lead to the plans he has for me, with every event and life decision effortlessly connecting to the next before I was even made aware of the opportunities that would be presented to me. When I chose Northwestern, I had a lot of hesitations about the cost, the location, and my major. Despite every hesitation I had, God continued to lead me to Northwestern. I started my time at Northwestern as a Social Work/Youth Ministry double major and a member of the softball team. I remember feeling so confused most of my freshman year because I was at the place God had clearly brought me to, but I wasn’t enjoying my classes and even after playing softball for 13 years of my life, I struggled to find the same passion for the sport and a sense of belonging on the team. I began praying for the things I thought I needed like affirmation, passion, and a sense of belonging. However, I wasn’t expecting God to completely change the trajectory of my college experience through these prayers.

At the end of my first year, I was offered a youth ministry internship at American Reformed Church, literally by the grace of God, which was not even a little bit a part of my plan. I had already accepted a position in Campus Ministry for my sophomore year, so that summer I prayed for discernment about whether or not to accept the internship, knowing that if I accepted it I would have to quit the softball team because I wouldn’t have time to do all three. It became clear very quickly that this was where God was leading me. When I came back to school in the fall, I met with my coach and hung up my cleats, closing the door on my softball career. I also dropped my social work major and continued as a youth ministry major. Throughout my sophomore year, I realized that this closed door was the beginning of my future, and as I look back at it now it was in this single act of obedience that God opened up a multitude of doors for my future.

After my sophomore year of working on CMT, I discovered a love for pouring into my peers and into the NWC community. I decided to apply for an RA position in Steg, where I have worked for the past two years. In these two years as an RA, God’s faithfulness has sustained me and caused me to fall so in love with residence life and student development. Now, as I am anticipating graduate school in the fall for a Master’s in Higher Education & Student Affairs. I look back at the journey that led me to this point and stand in awe of how God gave me so many opportunities to say yes to his plan, not knowing what it would eventually grow to be. I can reflect on these events with confidence that God has been and always will be faithful when I remain obedient to his voice.

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now?

As I prepare to move on from Northwestern, God has been challenging me to dig in deeper with those around me and begin to reflect on the ways he has transformed me over the last four years. I cherish Northwestern deeply, and as God is preparing me to move on, he is challenging me to think about what it means to move forward and discern how to use the lessons I have learned throughout my time at Northwestern to continue to grow deeper and form new community in the next chapter of life.

How has your view of God changed or been strengthened since coming to NWC?

My view of God has definitely become more holistic since coming to NWC. I think before I got here, my view of God was limited to an understanding of my personal relationship with God, but lacking an understanding of the powerful, missionally minded God of the universe. My experiences with SSPs really changed my view of God. My sophomore year, on an SSP to Amsterdam, I became aware of the vastness of the Kingdom. I was amazed by the work that God was doing all over the world and began to truly

understand what it means to be the Church in the world. We were able to join with people from all different countries to share the Gospel with travelers and hear about the ways God is working in so many areas of the world. This trip taught me that the same God that is working in my personal life, is aggressively at work in every corner of our world, too. Being a part of the Northwestern community invites us into the lives of others to experience our God at work in so many ways outside of ourselves. To summarize this change I would say that I came into Northwestern open to God changing my heart and pulling me closer to him. Now, I’m leaving Northwestern excited to participate in God’s work in the world because of the joy and love of God that I have experienced in my personal faith walk at Northwestern.

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