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.

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By Candice Howell

I recently heard the quote by Pricilla Shirer that said, “The devil CANNOT destroy you, but he will find any way in his power to discourage you.” Although I knew this deep down, it wasn’t until after my family started a church two years ago that I realized the influence that he has in this world and how he is very much alive and on the move, especially against God’s will.

My dad was called into the ministry two years ago after my mom had been praying for the past twenty years. My dad originally went to Wheaton College where he was studying to be a pastor. He knew it was what God wanted and called him to do, but he was not obedient to this call due to extreme hardships that occurred due to his freshly fatherless home life. However, my mom and my aunt continued to pray for seven years that God would work in him and lead, guide, and call him. God answered my mom’s prayers by planting a church, Grace Cornerstone Fellowship, in the spring of 2016 where my dad is now the pastor.

Once we started our church, the spiritual warfare became evident. In no way was he wanting our church to succeed. Due to my dad’s difficult childhood, fears of doubt, anxiety, and depression started to creep into his mind after not having strong attendance for the first year.

But this did not shock me. Of course, satan was going to discourage and attempt to destroy something that is honoring and glorifying to God. Why wouldn’t he? He will not target the people who aren’t trying to live for Christ. He wants the strong ones. There was tension starting to form in our church and Satan was winning. He was using relationships to tear down what God wanted for my dad and our church. I started getting discouraged because I was seeing how hard it was to do God’s will. I cried out to God asking, “God! Our family is trying to do your will, but it seems impossible at times, why?” And that is when God spoke to me. He said, “Candice, my daughter, the people are not the problem. Satan is the problem. You have to start fighting your true enemy.” I started to remember my true meaning on this earth, to love and serve God in everything I do.

This was such a new concept for me. Fighting Satan? Don’t I need to fight the people that are causing the problems? The answer is no. The enemy knows our weakness and insecurities and he will do anything in his power to manipulate people, things, and circumstances. I have learned recently, that fighting people leaves the root of the problem untouched. I need to get on my armor and fight the one who is truly out to discourage, deceive, and divide. 1 Peter 5: 8-9 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” Spiritual warfare at times has been scary, but I know that if I am following Jesus the devil has no power over me, my church, or my family. God has already won the battle, and we now fight from His victory.

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By Lizzy Johnston

It’s hard to leave me speechless. I have words for every occasion and witty comebacks are my forte. I recall only a couple incidents I’ve been speechless in my life, one being this past summer while visiting my sweet friend, who I’ve known for nearly all 19 years of my life. We were casually walking through the Scheels parking lot when she said, “Oh, I wanted to tell you—I’m pansexual.” Tripping over my words, I brilliantly said, “Oh. Uh huh. No prob.”

Driving back after that weekend I had a whole two hours alone with my thoughts (and tight jams), confused why this was rattling me. I have other friends in the LGBTQ community, all wonderful people. I concluded this particular ‘coming out’ situation was overwhelming me because of how close my friend was to me, and now the pressure I felt to respond in the right way to one of my best friends.

For my whole life, most Christians have told me this is one of the worst sins to commit— in my experience, I have seen condemnation for LGBTQ people come quickly, with little room for forgiveness and grace. I even will say I have been taught that it’s okay to judge and dislike those who identify as LGBTQ.

How was I supposed to treat this? With support and pride for her even though Christians tell me I would be approving of something extremely sinful? Slowly cut her out of my life to avoid dealing with it? What do I do when she begins sinful relationships? She abandoned her faith long ago, which made this even more complicated. How was I supposed to show Jesus and his love to someone who has rejected him? I was totally lost.

This October—after months of struggling with how to approach this—I realized Jesus was telling me to study a book of the Gospels, so I listened (I should definitely try that more often). I’ve been going through Luke, trying to comprehend the radical way Jesus loved while on Earth. One thing about Jesus: he is a colossal rule breaker. He sought out the men and women that the “righteous” people in society rejected or labeled as untouchable and that no one wanted to love, and he loved them. He went to the outcasts of society, the despised and the abandoned—sound like LGBTQ people?

As the issue of sexuality literally rips society and the Church apart, Jesus reminds me to simply love everyone. Not judge or hate or condemn. Just love. And not just love with my imperfect human love, but to allow him to pour his own love into others through me. My friend will have enough people judging her. What she needs is a friend; someone who loves her fiercely. This doesn’t mean ignoring the truth of God’s design for our sexuality and blindly excusing something that Scripture calls out as sinful (including the many sins I’m entangled in). It means spending a lot of time talking to Jesus about my friend—this person we both love—and praying for His clarity and guidance in walking through this as a Christian in a broken world. What I am confident of is that Jesus is telling me to be there for her, to show up for her and to care about her. Her identity is significantly more complex than her sexuality; she is lovingly and meticulously created by God and deserves to be loved as such. I completely trust that if I begin by simply loving others, especially the outcasts, Jesus will handle the rest. He will show me how he wants me to handle the entire issue of sexuality, holding to both grace and truth as he did. It all begins with the love of Jesus—his sweet and pure love that I’m praying my friend receives through me.