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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 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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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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