Spiritual Life

Why I Came to Wheaton's Conservatory of Music

Posted September 23, 2016 by Abigail Beerwart '19

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In all honesty, Wheaton wasn’t even on my radar when I was looking for a college to attend. Sure, I had heard of it, but it wasn’t a name that I had committed to memory. I wanted to be in an incredible music program, especially one that excelled in the vocal/opera department. I was convinced, however, that a Christian school just could not meet my standards. But now I see just how wrong I was!

I had some family friends practically beg me to check out Wheaton–their son graduated from Wheaton a few years back with a piano performance degree–so I finally, although somewhat grudgingly, agreed to visit. I scheduled an appointment to meet with Dr. Carolyn Hart, the Chair of Voice at the Conservatory of Music, so that I might understand what Wheaton had to offer for an aspiring opera singer such as myself. The arduous drive to Wheaton, which included driving through a blizzard, had my mother and I exchanging glances that asked, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” However, from the moment I set foot on campus, I knew that I had finally found it: my second home. 

Every individual with whom I interacted on that visit was warm, genuine, and overflowing with the love of Christ. The music program offered everything I could have possibly wanted: rigor, performance opportunities, and a huge focus on vocal health. Most importantly, I saw how the school truly did do everything “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

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When we finished our visit, my mother and I got in our car and sat for a moment before beginning our drive home. My mom asked, “So, what do you think?” For a beat I looked at the Conservatory before me, draped in a sparkling white robe of snow, before I turned to her and answered, “I can’t imagine going anywhere else!”

Jumping ahead to today, I am beginning my second year in Wheaton’s Conservatory of Music, and I have become friends with some of the kindest and most encouraging students and faculty imaginable. They genuinely care about me, pushing me to do more than I ever thought I could, and they lend a listening ear when I need it. My classes have propelled me forward, allowing me to understand and appreciate music like never before. My musicianship and vocal abilities have skyrocketed in ways that leave me dumbfounded. All of these wonderful experiences at Wheaton have solidified in me one simple, but meaningful, response: to praise God. 

The Conservatory of Music has fed me relationally, intellectually, musically, and spiritually, so obviously I still can’t imagine going to school anywhere else! That’s #MyWheaton.

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Abigail Beerwart ’19 is a sophomore studying vocal performance in opera through Wheaton College’s Conservatory of Music. Photo captions (from top): McAlister Hall, Wheaton's Conservatory of Music; student performers after the 2015 Opera Music Theater production of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde; Abigail with Conservatory of Music classmates. 

Youth Hostel Ministry in Amsterdam

Posted August 3, 2016 by Melissa Ator '18

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amsterdam-swedish-celebrationSpending the summer in Amsterdam with Youth Hostel Ministry has been such an enriching experience. When I first heard the word “Europe” during my introduction to the program last year, my interest was immediately peaked. Not only did the YHM program allow us to live in Amsterdam for 10 weeks, it invited us to be thrown into an international community of volunteers who all share the same passion for meeting and evangelizing to backpackers from all across the world. 

As I prepared to apply for the program, I couldn’t help but wonder: what’s the catch? So far, I haven’t found one. 

Before being flown across the Atlantic as a team of five Wheaties, Wheaton’s Office of Christian Outreach (OCO) ensured that we were well prepared for the program with weekly lectures given by professors and staff members. Each lecture was interesting and well-tailored to our ministry. Weekend retreats that we took with our team during the spring semester allowed us to get to know who we would be working alongside for ten weeks. 

One of the (many) highlights of my YHM experience has been the ability to be a part of a ministry that is so clearly passionate about the Lord and communicating that passion to travelers. I had plenty of expectations coming into this summer, all of them high. But they were all exceeded. I have been able to learn so much from the people who run the program and the others who volunteered alongside of me. I was challenged, too, and looking back, I am very thankful for those times as well. 

One of the most memorable moments from this summer was when two of the cleaners at our shelter were baptized. I got to know both of them pretty well. One of them had been a Muslim before he came to the shelter, and had a background of drug dealing and use. While he was working at the shelter, he was exposed to Christianity more and more, and at one point saw a vision of Jesus. This was the turning point for him, and he has been on fire for God ever since. 

Whenever I saw him he would tell me about how much he loved everyone because of Jesus. This did come at a price though. He would tell us about how most of his family and friends don't talk to him anymore since leaving the Muslim faith. But he takes his faith seriously, and recently decided to outwardly show that by getting baptized. It was so cool to see the whole shelter community come and celebrate this important decision with him. 

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Melissa Ator ’18 is a junior studying applied health science. She participated in Wheaton’s Youth Hostel Ministry program in Amsterdam this summer. Photo captions (from top): YHM students and shelter staff prepare to enjoy a Midsummer Celebration “as the Swedes do,” thanks to one of the shelter staff members who desired to give students an authentic experience of Swedish culture; A baptism service for two shelter staff members who came to Christ through the shelter ministry--they are the two on the far right, participating in a selfie.

My Internship at Samaritan’s Purse

Posted July 6, 2016 by Brielle Lisa '18

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“Mom! We have to go to the store right away! I want to get her a notebook and colored pencils!” 

Year after year I remember incessantly pestering my mother so I could go pick out toys for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. That was my first exposure to Samaritan’s Purse.

My next exposure to Samaritan’s Purse was during fall of my freshman year at Wheaton, when representatives came to Wheaton’s campus to recruit for their internship program. That day, I made a mental note to apply for an internship during the following year. This past fall, I had my heart set on becoming a #SPintern

I was drawn to this internship for multiple reasons, first and foremost because Samaritan’s Purse not only meets people's physical, earthly needs, but also their spiritual, eternal needs. Samaritan’s Purse serves for Christ and His Kingdom.

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Throughout my application process, Wheaton’s Center of Vocation and Career reviewed my resume and cover letter, provided me with access to Big Interview (interactive online interview tutorials), and encouraged me each step of the way. 

Now I am almost halfway through my internship as an editorial intern in the Communications Department at Samaritan’s Purse’s International Headquarters in Boone, NC. I spend time writing, editing, researching, and marketing. One of the most exciting projects I am a part of is an Operation Christmas Child marketing campaign targeting 15-23 year olds. As part of the target demographic, I have been able to contribute a valuable perspective. I am also traveling to the Philippines as the lead writer for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution in July—it is amazing how God orchestrates full circle stories.

I enjoy beginning every work day with staff devotions, a time when all 600 employees meet together; “grabbing meals” with my coworkers; hiking after work with fellow interns; and seeing familiar Wheaton faces as there are 11 other Wheaton students interning here, too! 

My goal for my internship is to learn as much as possible—about writing, editing, relief work, professionalism, people’s stories, and Christ’s call on my life. With that, I am thankful for all I have learned at Wheaton. My Christian liberal arts education teaches me to synthesize and think theologically. My professors teach me to show and not tell stories, to read critically, and to communicate clearly. The Wheaton student body, faculty, and staff teach me how to live in community. I get to use all these skills during my internship.

With the next half of the summer still to come, I look forward to traveling to the Philippines, learning more around the office, adventuring in the North Carolina mountains, and developing a keen awareness of God’s perfect timing.

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Brielle Lisa '18 is a English writing major with minors in communication and biblical and theological studies. She is currently an intern at Samaritan’s Purse. To learn more, visit their website

Photo captions (from top): Brielle Lisa '18 in front of the Samaritan’s Purse sign; Wheaton interns at Samaritan's Purse, summer 2016: Alexa Dava '17, Brielle Lisa '18, Bella McKay '18, Lydia Kwarteng '17, Jillian Hedges '17, Christy Carlson '17. Row 2: Hannah Sohmer '17, Nicole Kitchen '18, Daniel Travis '17, Joseph Perry '16, Brent Westergren '17, Abby Prince '18; Brielle Lisa '18 and Abby Prince '18 take a hike on Snake Mountain in North Carolina.


Beauty, Brokenness, and Hope in Cape Town

Posted June 29, 2016 by Latreece Mitchel M.A. '17

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Lukahya Education Center

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” -- Psalm 119:105 

As an intercultural studies student at Wheaton College Graduate School, my Wheaton education has taught me the importance of being prepared, getting myself outside of my comfort zone, and stretching myself. What I love about the intercultural studies program is that it gives me practical tools to use while doing cross-cultural ministry. 

This May, I was able to apply these skills while traveling to Cape Town, South Africa to take part in a short-term internship with a team of Angelos Biblical Institute missionaries from Fresno, California. Excited and eager to begin our journey partnering with local churches and day camps, we were warmly greeted by 20 of our brothers and sisters in Christ upon our arrival. Experiencing such a warm welcome from people who rarely knew us and had only heard about us immediately enhanced my expectations for our trip.

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In Cape Town we taught at several conferences held by local churches. We also led workshops about church ministries, volunteered at educational centers, planned for future conferences, and much more. Every day we would pack up in small cars and head to churches in South African townships where many people publicly admitted their fear of violence and corruption within their communities and ran away from us.

Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, and Samaro are townships where there is much poverty, crime, and brokenness. But when we entered the churches of these townships the people had so much faith and hope--hope in the promises of God. They praised and worship God even in extreme conditions. The pastors in the churches of the townships occupied small spaces and had no instruments or any of the things we sometimes think we “need” for church. Instead, they had Bibles and each other, and did not let their situation stop them from worshiping God.

This showed me the beauty of Cape Town displayed in brokenness. 

The beauty of Cape Town was displayed through the people and their generous hospitality. All of the churches and day-care centers we partnered with gave us a clear and sincere picture of what it means to have a “servant mentality.” 

While I experienced an abundance of cultural differences in Cape Town, one thing that remained the same across all cultures represented was the brokenness we all share as sinners. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” During my time in South Africa I saw the brokenness that exists in another country, but I was also able to see the hope that exists through faith in Jesus Christ. Being in Cape Town was not just about nurturing future Christian leaders. Instead, going to South Africa was about experiencing the love of God in a way that we never have before through beauty, brokenness, and hope.

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Latreece Michel M.A. ’17 is a participant in Wheaton’s Intercultural Studies Graduate School program and recipient of the William Hiram Bentley Award for Ministry to the African-American Community. To learn more about Intercultural Studies program, visit their website.

Photo Captions (from top): Pastor Roman gave his all for kids who did not have much by building them a school with his retirement savings called the Lukahya Education Center; Latreece served women who desire to learn, grow, and be encouraged in the word of God at a women's workshop in Khayelitsha; The A.B.I. team's first day of service in Cape Town. Below: Surprise! Latreece's boyfriend proposed at the airport when she returned home. She said yes!

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From Wheaton to Israel and Greece: Wheaton in the Holy Lands

Posted June 9, 2016 by Henry Prinz '19, Valerie Ann Griffin '18

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For the past 40 years, Wheaton in the Holy Lands has sent students to explore their faith in its original setting in the Middle East. The six-week program sends 40 students to sacred sites in cities including Jerusalem, Galilee, Athens, and Rome. We (Henry and Valerie) chose to participate in this program this summer for the amazing opportunity to study the Bible with scholars who are thoroughly acquainted with the region. 

In preparation for our studies and travel abroad, we heard lectures from various professors on campus and got to know our team. In late May, we traveled to the Middle East. We just finished the Israel portion of our trip which was very rigorous but gave us a whole new perspective of the Bible. Our teachers were very experienced in engaging with Middle Eastern landscape and culture, and we absorbed much of their wisdom to carry home with us. 

One of our favorite memories of our Israel travels came in the desert of Negev where the children of Israel wandered for 40 years. While hiking through the treacherous terrain, we encountered a freshwater spring flowing out of a canyon. We then turned our eyes to the Psalms of David's joy in the refreshing springs of the Negev's living water. These kinds of experiences have helped us come to a better understanding of the narrative of scripture. 

Outside of class, we have explored the ancient and modern sections of Jerusalem. While have gotten to know a few people in the city and are sad to leave them behind, we are excited to move on to our next destination, Greece, where we will be spending two weeks learning about the New Testament and enjoying the Mediterranean Sea. We will finish our trip in Rome while we explore the Vatican, St. Peter's basilica, and eat unhealthy amounts of gelato. 

Learn more about Wheaton in the Holy Lands on their website.

Photo caption: Wheaton in the Holy Lands students explore a spring in the Negev wilderness.

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