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By Amber Gilpin 

I’m at that point in life where everyone wants to know what I’m doing after graduation. And you know what? I have no idea. When someone asks that question, all I want to do is curl up with a coloring book in my blanket fort and ignore all other responsibilities.

Even though not knowing my future scares me, one thing keeps coming to mind. It’s a quote I heard while on a pilgrimage through Italy last summer. Our guide called it the Pilgrim’s Motto.

“I am willing to be flexible. I am neither in control nor in a hurry. I journey in faith, hope, and peace knowing God will provide for me. My goal is the journey not the destination, so I joyfully accept today’s sacrifices, challenges, and blessings.”

These words were easy to abide by when I was studying abroad. For 10 days, six of us Raiders woke up, ate breakfast, and hiked until we reached our destination. We had no clue where we were walking or what we would encounter on the journey. But that was part of the adventure! We embraced the blessings: small coffee shops with Italian caffé, gelato, Roman aqueducts, olive groves, and field upon field of wild poppies. But we also had to face the day’s challenges, be it steep trails, blisters, injured knees, ticks, and, in my opinion, escargot (I don’t recommend it!).

Yet in all these things there was a sense of adventure and peace. We had guides with us who knew the country, the language, and the trails. Even when I felt uncomfortable or lost, I knew that with our guide’s help we would eventually arrive.

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Though there were challenges, these were some of the best weeks of my life. I found it easy to get up every morning not knowing what was coming. It was fun even! So why am I now hiding in my blanket fort apprehensive of the future? 

Looking for a job, moving out, and paying off school loans absolutely terrifies me. I’m not ready to face some of life’s new challenges without a guide. 

The amazing thing is, I don’t have to! God walks with and before me, guiding me every step of the way. 

In Italy, I had a guide I could see. It’s harder to trust a God I can’t see, yet I have confidence that he is living and active, guiding and granting wisdom. 

God has been faithful to lead in the past and will continue to do so as I step into the future.   

I may not know where I am going, but I am certain of one thing: I don’t walk alone. Therefore, I can get up every morning finding joy in my journey. I can embrace the day’s challenges, blessings, and sacrifices knowing that God will provide. When the time is right I’ll know the next step. But for now, I’m content trusting in the one who knows the end from the beginning. My Guide will lead me home. 

-Amber Gilpin
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By Tanner Hilbrands

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to go to President Christy’s house for lunch and was able to reflect on the past 4 years with my fellow seniors. It was amazing to see and listen to stories about where we had all come from and how Northwestern brought us all together. Pretty incredible how a small-town boy from Remsen, Iowa could be connected with people from all parts of the country and even, the world. Michelle Christy shared a verse with us from Isaiah 43 about how God made streams and rivers in the wasteland. God works in our lives in ways we may have never imagined. As she talked about how God works in our lives she brought out a pair of shoes. The shoes were old, worn, kind of dirty, and related that back to our time at Northwestern.

We have so many experiences in our short 4 years together – the many campus activities, late night paper procrastination, 4 years of basketball and track and field, and now student teaching with a group of high school sophomores and seventh graders (and trust me… teaching just a semester have given me a whole other slew of stories). But… I am tired. The tread on my shoes are worn to the brim. But as I reflect, the places those shoes have taken me have been incredible. The people I have met wearing these shoes have built relationships that will last a lifetime – Kendal Stanislav, my roommates, Jim Burmakow, Kris Korver, my SSP NOLA fam, Professor Koerselman, my teammates, the RA staff, the list goes on and on.

Yes, I believe the cliché “community” of Northwestern is a very real thing. I’m confident that the people I’ve met here at NWC will last a lifetime and the things I’ve shared with these folks will soon be memories. Soon, all I will have left is a worn pair of shoes.

I have loved every moment of college. But as is true for many of us seniors, I am scared for the future. But, this is a good type of scary. Last school year, Rick Clark (my professor and my basketball coach) shared a powerful sermon about the planting of seeds into people. Many of us do not realize it quite yet, but there have been seeds planted and years down the road we will have the good fortune of reaping a harvest. Northwestern has planted these seeds within us and some of us will reap a harvest faster than others, but the seeds have been planted and it is our job to take care of these seeds as we move on in life. Although our shoes will get dirty along the way, the journey we go on to reap this harvest makes us who we are.

Northwestern has prepared us for the future and I want to “Ncourage” (Monsma puns) my fellow seniors that no matter where you end up after graduation, it is all in God’s Plan. S/O Drake.

Mark DeYounge, who in my opinion is an absolute rock star, shared a message with incoming Freshmen two years ago that really struck a chord with me and made me realize that life as we know it is a constant race. We trained all throughout high school to prepare us for college. Whether it is academics, music, sports, or whatever, our time growing up was set to prepare us for our time as a Raider. Our parents handed us off, they gave the baton to our professors, coaches, staff members, and trusted them to get us into the next “leg” of the race (of our lives). And with graduation looming just weeks away, it is almost time to grab the baton for the next “leg” of our lives. Where this “leg” of the race takes us is not for us to micro-manage, but our focus ought to be centered in continually finding joy as we trust God’s lead. We must live with the end in sight and glorify God in all that we do. We should not simply run towards a physical destination, rather we should enjoy every minute of the journey as we run the race of life. Life will inevitably gives us many ups and downs along the way, but we need to know that there is a training partner running alongside us every step of the way – Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

So I say to you now, go and run your race. Seniors grab that baton and dominate the next leg of your race. Freshmen, don’t be afraid of the college journey that lies ahead, rather embrace the tough road and know that it will be the best 4 years of your life. Run it at your own pace and don’t worry how fast or slow you go, but rather run it for God and run it to glorify him in all that you do. Enjoy every moment of running that race. Life is all about the journey you go on and someday we will reach that finish line; that finish line being the fullness of heaven with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior standing at the end cheering us on every step of the way.

I was supposed to keep this short, so sorry for rambling. The past 4 years were the best 4 years of my life. Thank you, Northwestern, for the time of my life! As for me, after graduation, I think I’m going to get some new shoes, mine are worn out.

Much Love NWC!

Raiders Row,

Tanner Hilbrands

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What has tested your faith during your time at NWC?

I came to Northwestern in the middle of my college career. As a transfer at any college or university, it is not easy. In a new place, it is not easy to feel like you belong. It is not easy to feel comfortable with a group of people who already has an established group of friends. It is not easy to set aside your previous college experience and fully engage in a new community.

With that being said, my time here at Northwestern has been a time of testing my faith and truly relying on the Lord to comfort me in the midst of the uncomfortable. Prior to last year, I would describe my life as somewhat comfortable – I lived in a close Mennonite community nearly my whole life and grew up with the same group of people all throughout my schooling (not to mention, that about a fifth of my graduating class went on to the first two years of college with me).

However, I am so thankful that the Lord brought me to Northwestern. During my first semester here, while seeking Him in the unknown, I gained amazing friends, got involved with campus activities, and truly saw God working in this season of change. For the first time, I could say that He is good, and at work even in the midst of the uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and unknown. Looking back, I can’t even begin to describe the ways that I have changed and have grown to rely more heavily on God. For the first time in my life, here at NWC, I truly have had to let Him lead – and even today, He continues consistently lead and love me well.

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

Over and over at Northwestern, I have learned more about the Holy Spirit and ways to encounter Him in everyday life. Prior to my time at Northwestern, my experience with learning about and ‘feeling Him move’ seemed very minimal. I always knew the Sprit was working, but old hymns and my church background didn’t seem to highlight the Spirit as much. Since coming to Northwestern, however, I can tell through experiences such as worship on campus, conversations, and classes, I experience Him more by noticing how other students and faculty interact with the Holy Spirit. I see students raising their hands at P&W, I notice conversations being led by the Holy Spirit, and I am learning more and more every day to be more attentive to the ways he moves in my life.

Describe a time at NWC when God’s presence was obvious to you?

Music has been one of the ways I best connect to God for almost my entire life. Whenever I get the chance, I love singing hymns and praise songs with my friends. One experience that stands out to me at my time at Northwestern was on my SSP in Amsterdam. In the hostel where we worked, the guests were mainly travelers who needed a few days stay. These were Christians and non-Christians alike, but on Saturday night I remember playing some songs with my team and the guests, and we started singing Jesus Loves Me – some of them knew it, and some of them didn’t. But when we all sang, it was sung in different languages and all the voices being lifted up to God was truly beautiful. I could tell in that moment that God was real, God is huge, and His presence was known in that place. Northwestern has granted me with amazing experiences like this and I’ll forever be thankful!

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

Before coming to Northwestern, I honestly remember thinking that I know most of what a Christian needed to know about God. I thought I knew who He was and what role He was supposed to play in my life. I remember thinking that going to a Christian school such as Northwestern would help fill in the cracks of my knowledge about God – I already knew most of it, but it would be nice to know the nitty-gritty details. I also remember the moment I realized how disillusioned I was, and that I barely knew God at all. 

All throughout high school I had one goal: to look like I was a good kid and a good Christian. I now look back and realize how toxic that was to me. My faith wasn’t about being a genuine, authentic Christian, but rather about how I appeared to other people.  At the time, I thought this ideology would translate well into life at Northwestern. I thought that all the guys on the football team and students across campus were going to be goody-goodies like me who didn’t swear, who didn’t drink, and who always had a fake smile on their face. To my surprise, my expectations were not met during my first few weeks of football camp and class. Because of my unmet expectations, I began to think that everybody else had it wrong and I made the wrong college choice. However, I believe that God was working in me and through the people I surrounded myself with because my view of God began to dramatically grow, evolve, and change – even though I was just beginning to scratch the surface of who God actually was.  Over the course of my Northwestern career through football, classes, FCA, SSP’s, and everyday interactions with people, I can’t even begin to describe the many ways in which my view of God has grown!  

Let me share just two seemingly simple things I have learned about God during my time here at Northwestern. 

First, at Northwestern learned that our God is real. I realized that God wasn’t just an entity to believe in so that you look like a good kid to grown-ups. Previously, I had used God to set myself apart from the crowd growing up. God can use someone to stand out, but I was doing it for selfish reasons only. At Northwestern, I learned that most of the guys on the football team and students among campus were authentic and genuine in their faith. They didn’t put up the “Orange City front” to make themselves look good, but rather these people were real and wanted to talk about deep theological questions – something I had never experienced before. Sure, these people weren’t perfect, and they struggled with sin like everybody else, but they didn’t hide it like I was used to. Instead, they were open about it and asked for forgiveness. This was the first lesson that Northwestern taught me about God. 

Second, at Northwestern I learned that our God loves indiscriminately. It doesn’t matter to God what we look like or how we have sinned in the past. All that matters to God is who we are trying to be in the present. God cares that we are striving to be more like Jesus. Inevitably, we aren’t going to look like Jesus all the time. That’s called sin. There aren’t enough numbers in the world to account for the times I have sinned. No matter where you go to college, there are going to be temptations. I’ve been tempted with laziness, lust, alcohol, and I’ve even been tempted to skip chapel a couple times. However, at the end of the day, my Northwestern experience has taught me that God still loves through the thickest of sins. God loved me in my past darkness and I can take comfort in that God will love me in my future darkness.  God even loves me enough to call me out of my darkness and into his light.  God’s unending, unconditional, and limitless love was the second thing that Northwestern taught me about God. 

Overall, my experience here at Northwestern is priceless and something that I will always cherish. From 5:30am morning football workouts to late night NBS and Catan in Coly, the memories and life lessons that I have gained from this place will be taken with me wherever I go. I can’t begin to describe the impact Northwestern has had on my life and am eternally grateful for it. God is doing some amazing things on campus and I am excited to see what the Northwestern community becomes in the future. 

I love all you Raiders, 

Raiders Roll, 

Jacob Jenness 

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SENIOR Q  & A

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

As our mission statement says, we are being prepared to do God’s redeeming work in the world. The fact that God is using us messy human beings to do this is still a little bit mind-blowing. I think NWC has decided to plant itself right there in that tension of recognizing that we’re not perfect but still trying to effect change in Jesus’ name. I’ve seen this especially in the service opportunities NWC makes sure we have access to. I never would have guessed that in college I would co-lead a SSP to Opelousas, LA or help send dozens of first year students to worksites around Sioux County as part of Orientation Staff. But God still used my teammates, and me, to do good work. 

Describe a time at NWC when God’s presence was obvious to you? 

I’m not even a theatre major, but will it really be a surprise to anyone if I admit it was an experience I’ve had with Northwestern Theatre? My sophomore year I had the privilege to be in the musical Godspell along with 12 of the best people I know. For several months our little band of players got to romp around with the parables of Jesus, telling stories of the love and the grace of his Gospel, and also living into his painful and wonderful death and resurrection. 

Jesus felt so incredibly real to me in those weeks that we found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of his story. Maybe because there was an immense joy that seemed to surround the whole project. You could feel it in our laughing, our singing, our dancing, and even our weeping (which there had been plenty of by the time we performed for the last time). It’s so hard to put into words. Once you know that kind of fellowship you really want to chase after it with the hope that you’ll find it again.   

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now? 

Optimism about uncertainty … I can be a very spontaneous person, but at the same time I require a level of planned-out-ness in my life. It’s probably because I like to be or at least feel in control of my circumstances. As a senior that planned-ness isn’t really something that I can say I have anymore. I don’t even have a summer job lined up. But I need to remember that it’s perfectly fine to not have it all figured out in this moment. And not only that, I don’t have to feel hopeless about not knowing what’s happening after graduation. I can trust that it will work out for God’s greater purposes and even feel optimistic. God made the water in my half-full glass if that mixed metaphor makes any sense. I think I’ll be okay.