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

“You make your plans and you hear God laughing.”

Some of you might recognize that line from Thomas Rhett’s hit song, “Life Changes.” Now I know some of you do not like country music, but let me tell you this: Mr. Rhett couldn’t have nailed that line on the head any better.

I came to Northwestern as your typical wide-eyed, excited, and nervous freshman, ready to begin what everyone was telling me would be the “best four years of my life.” And these years have been pretty much just that. However, they have not gone like I expected. From changing my major, to having struggles and challenges with my faith, I can say for certain that I am leaving NWC as a different man than I was when I came in. Most of that can be attributed to God coming in and messing up all of MY plans that I had in mind. And let me tell you, it has actually been a beautiful thing.

You see we always talk about God’s faithfulness, his plan for our lives, and his perfect timing. But that faithfulness has never been so evident to me until this year as a senior. I went into this year with incredible expectations as to how I saw myself finishing college. That list including trying to meet more people on campus, being a part of a national championship basketball team, getting a girlfriend (*reader laughs*), and getting the dream teaching job in Omaha. I’ll tell you right now that most of these things didn’t happen for me. You see, we may have these plans and we think we can take them to God and say, “here are my plans, do something with them. Make them come true for me.” But that isn’t how God works. Instead, I think God expects us to keep going after those things we desire, while trusting that He will make a way if it is meant to be.

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

Keep working hard, keep enjoying life, and keep waiting for God’s faithfulness to show. Even if we do not get some of those specific things we want, everything will still be fine. I didn’t get the national championship I wanted this year, but I did get some of the best memories of my life from being a part of the NWC basketball team. I didn’t get a girlfriend, but I did get new friendships and strengthened the friendships I already had. I didn’t get that teaching job in Omaha, but I did get a teaching job in Le Mars which will allow me to be closer to friends and family. And even if I wouldn’t have gotten these things, I still have the biggest aspect of God’s faithfulness to look forward to: His plan to be a part of our lives, His plan for us to have eternal life with him, and His plan that all of the suffering of this Earth will be wiped away when Jesus returns.

So keep fighting the good fight. Keep running the race. And keep preparing your fields. For one day God will bring the rain, and those days you suffered through the drought will be nothing more than an afterthought. One day his faithfulness will show through, and you can look back on your life with a smile knowing all of your disappointments led you to this amazing joy today.

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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. 



SENIOR Q & A

In your time at NWC, who has shown you a bit of God’s love?
 

During my time at NWC, a person who has shown me a bit of God’s love was Pam Mason. Most people don’t know her because the college keeps her cooped up in a small financial office on the second floor of Zwemer. I fell across her (literally fell off a ladder changing her light bulb) in her office and that’s how we met. Ever since that day, we’ve traded stories of how I got to NWC and how she got here – and the next thing you know, she has been like my guardian angel. She is not the type of person who would say, “I’ll pray for you” and then walk away. She will pray for you and walk with you during your troubling times and she will be there for you during the good times. As an African American, it meant a lot to me that a Caucasian person didn’t only want to hear my story but also try to have something in common with me which made me feel more comfortable about being at NWC and less homesick. 

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

I wouldn’t say my faith in God was changed at all being here. I grew up in the ghetto and saw and experienced things most people shouldn’t have to go through. Having a great grandmother to raise me who was strong in her faith already told me that God does what he wants, but he is always good, and he is always right on time. So, I was never one to get mad at God or question his ways. I felt like it was a waste of time because the day is still going to pass, He is still going to be good, and most obvious there is always a reason behind His madness. My faith was strengthened through the fact of finding my calling. I came here thinking I’m just a football player and I am going to make it to the league (league meaning NFL, Canadian league football or arena football league). I was so obsessed with myself and being great that it killed a lot of my friendships because if they were not dedicated to getting better then I felt like they were holding me back. I studied athletic training just in case I didn’t make it to the league for sports – then I was going to make it with my degree. Either way I was going to be in the league, make a lot of money so my friends and family can say that I made it and then I can start giving back to my neighborhood. NWC SSP’s and being involved with youth sports camps convinced me that I need to be a teacher and start giving back now. I learned very quickly that I don’t need to be rich or famous to give back. People (mainly kids) need or can use help now and time is preferred more than money now a days. They need time and investments. They need to know that they are loved. So, I will give a shout out to NWC for helping me find that calling and confirming that I have a purpose in this world. God needed me to come here to find it. 

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

An attribute of God that has been the most evident in my time at NWC would be His love. The most obvious with Pam Mason being my guardian angel, but He also provided me a host family that helped supported me in almost every way possible. Me growing up with a broken family, and once my grandmother went to a retirement home when I was 11, I was in broken homes with broken family members, with an absence of love. I got here, and I learned what love feels like, and what it looks like in the human flesh. I know the Lord loves me, but other humans showed me unconditional love and I didn’t react the best to it at first because I thought it was too good to be true, but love is amazing when it’s real and has God in the center. Also, when I found out my adopted mom passed way during my time here, the whole community surrounded me in love and supported me. I can’t say thank you enough to the NWC community that was there for me. 

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by Ginny Kjer

At the beginning of the semester I was sitting on the rooftop of my school here in Seville, Spain wondering what God had in store for me. The morning air was crisp with the slightest chill, but I couldn’t complain since it was below zero back at Northwestern. I hadn’t yet decided what word I wanted to focus on for the year. After sitting in silence as I looked out over the city, the first line from the song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack floated into my mind. It goes, “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” Wonder, for me, is being in awe of God’s creation. In the past this has been displayed through my friend’s vulnerability, watching children kick a soccer ball in the street, and by enjoying the beautiful sunshine. However, after spending the past three and a half years at the same school, in the same town, with generally the same people, I had almost stopped wondering. The craziest part is that I hadn’t realized that I’d stopped wondering until this semester. For me, it took a completely new culture to realize I had probably missed out on wonder-worthy details at NWC. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time on the field after my last collegiate soccer game or walked across campus a little bit slower, so I could enjoy the beauty.

Naturally, since arriving here in Seville I have had a lot to wonder about, both to question and to be in awe of. Lately, I’ve challenged myself to wonder at my surroundings. This semester I’ve been humbled by how amazing God’s creation is as I’ve seen God’s handiwork all around me. What once was foreign is starting to become normal everyday life after being here for a while. Nonetheless, there is still so much I haven’t seen. Each day, as I walk through familiar (and sometimes not so familiar) streets, I try to look up, down, and around for something new to wonder at. So far, I have wondered how to navigate the curvy streets of Seville, and how to politely tell my host mom I don’t like the juice she packs in my lunch. (That worked out. She was actually glad I told her.) I have also wondered how I can possibly express how amazing my study abroad experience has been, and if my calling is still what I thought it was.

It’s so easy to go through my daily life without thinking much about what’s around me. Many times, I’ve become so accustomed to my surroundings that I’ve become somewhat desensitized to them. The same has been true in my faith journey. I’ve become so set in my routine of daily devotions and weekly church services, that I don’t feel or acknowledge the wonder of God’s love for me. I had become desensitized to the full impact His love had in my life. But, more and more, I have come to realize the God of the universe loves me and that in itself is something to wonder at. Wow. Why would the God of the universe love me? Because in Christ, I am His daughter, His Beloved. I so easily forget this fact when I get caught up in my daily life, but that doesn’t make it any less true. As I finish this semester abroad and come home to start the next phase of life, I hope to continue to witness the wonder of God’s amazing creation.