Tags: My Wheaton, Spiritual Life, The Liberal Arts,
“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.
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.
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!
Tags: Global and Experiential Learning, My Wheaton, Spiritual Life
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.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities, Spiritual Life, Global and Experiential Learning
This summer, junior Christiana McGann ’18 (below, at left) and senior Malena Sweers ’17 (below, right) are at HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College, participating in Summer Leadership School (SLS). Below, they share a bit about why they chose to spend their summers in classes, training, and as paid cabin counselors in a dynamic summer camp program for young people.
Q: Why did you sign up to do HoneyRock’s Summer Leadership School (SLS)?
Malena: I signed up for SLS because I wanted to be a part of the worshipful community at HoneyRock, members constantly inviting each other to love God as we participate in His creation together. When I transferred to Wheaton the spring of my sophomore year, the group of students who welcomed and loved me most had all been involved at HoneyRock, most of them with the SLS program. Their stories and high praise of the summer at HoneyRock moved me to keep the program in mind. At the start of this past fall semester other components moved around too, and I became the first SLS recruit of the year!
Q: What is SLS all about?
Christiana: In addition to being a leadership program, SLS is a unique ministry experience that demands learning and adapting as you go. That being said, the preparations we have received, in the form of various meetings, CPR training sessions, and my personal favorite—the winter retreat at HoneyRock we took this February—have only heightened my excitement. I had my first glimpse of HoneyRock during our retreat. Throughout that freezing weekend, I tasted for myself the sweetness of “a place apart.” The weekend involved zany team-building activities and times of solitude. We reveled in the exhilaration of snow-tubing and in various star-gazing treks on the frozen lake. And of course, I will never forget the infamous polar plunge. There is nothing quite as bonding as a dip in freezing waters during the balmy month of January. As we huddled for warmth beside a crackling bonfire, I recall feeling a strange sense of kinship with my fellow “crazies.” The weekend left me eagerly anticipating the summer to come.
Malena: SLS is a program that equips college students like myself to guide campers entering 4th through 9th grade through a couple weeks of outdoor adventures, and to teach us how to be present with them to help process camp experiences. “SLS’ers” prepare with classes and training for five weeks before campers arrive. I am grateful for this time counselors have to become familiar with each other, learning how to build one another up when either joy or exhaustion prevails.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about this summer?
Christiana: The greatly anticipated SLS will be a summer full of thrilling stories and adventures to tell. I cannot wait to savor nature in a place of quiet, to hike and stargaze to my heart’s content. There’s something unique about the breathtaking view of a hike or the immensity of an array of stars. These are times in nature where I palpably feel God’s presence. I also look forward to reflective and quiet times to sit with and ponder hard questions. I want to meet God in a fresh way that renews my delight in the Lord. Finally, I cannot wait for the relationships I will find at HoneyRock. The people with whom I will interact, both campers and those I work alongside, will be sure to challenge me in ways that I can’t envision. In short, I’m at the brink of a summer of memories and crazy experiences that will create friendships like nothing else. In the words of Ellie from Up, “Adventure is out there!”
Photos (from top): Christiana (at left) and Malena on Chrouser Lawn at HoneyRock in May 2016. Photos credit Alexander Lee ’18.
Learn more and apply to HoneyRock’s summer programs and camps on their website.
Tags: My Wheaton, Campus, Conservatory, Student Activities, Spiritual Life, The Liberal Arts
“Ordinary” is not necessarily the best word to describe the past couple of years at Wheaton College. The College suffered from multiple incidents and divisive responses about such incidents from society. Seeing the media quite frequently bashing on my College that I love was definitely one of my lowest points of this year.
While mourning and being heartbroken for the College and its separations, I wondered if there was any fundamental belief that could draw an absolute and complete agreement from anyone on campus.
Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” To give hope to those who, like me, mourn for the separation of campus, I decided to produce a musical project based on the message of the unity of Christ. The mission statement of project was simple: get students from very different places of Wheaton – the Conservatory and the football team, for instance – to sing about the same thing – the grace of Christ.
With the short amount of time I had left in the school year, I had to move quickly. First, I contacted my friend Adam Lindgren ’16 and asked for an all-voice arrangement of “Amazing Grace.” I could not find a better song or better arranger to represent the message of unity through voices. Next, I reached out to multiple people and asked for their musical participation on this project. I contacted the presidents of different organizations on campus and asked for a participant from each group as a representative. Each artist, by participating on this project, supports the purpose of this project by representing his or her group. Last, to be able to advertise the final product to the student body, parents, faculty and staff members, I came up with the name of this project – Project UNITY.
During the journey, I was blown away by the number of participants and the amount of willingness of each and every musician who was on board. I was able to record 30 artists, and though my time at studio was sometimes quite exhausting, their enthusiasm and passion constantly reminded me of why I started this project in the first place. With a total of 80 hours in Shea studio with lots of encouragements and help from different friends, I reached the end of the journey last week and launched the final product of Project UNITY ("Amazing Grace," above).
I thank my advisors, helpers, and musicians who were with me this entire journey – this mix is meaningful not because of its quality, but because of its message behind it, and this message could not have been delivered if it weren’t for them. I thank Wheaton College for providing me such an awesome opportunity to witness Christ during this entire process. Finally, I thank God for bringing us unity, and giving us an ability to praise and sing for His glory.
Each singer who participated on this project represents the organization or club that he/she is involved in: Student Government, College Union, Gospel Choir, Swing Club, Resident Life, Track Team, Diakonoi, Discipleship Small Group, Men's Glee Club, Football, Concert Choir, Arena Theater, Amplify, Summer Ministry Program, Phonathon, Women's Chorale, Mu Kappa, Thundertones, Koinonia, the Wheaton Record, and many more. Adam Lindgren '16, Lucian Taylor '17, and Brian Porick '98 recorded, mixed, and mastered the project, and artists who participated on this project include Aly Vukelich '17, Matt Zuckermann '17, Andrea Artis '16, Emily Lengel '16, Josh Knowlton '17, Sola Olateju '17, Jenny Ruda '18, Peter Fenton '17, Peter Desrosier '16, Joshua Buzz Aldrin '16, Lydia Saldanha '17, Brittany Blue '16, Emma Camillone '18, Catherine Hall '18, Luke Goodman '18, Katherine Harrison '18, Kiersten Williams '18, Emma Baker '17, Elizabeth Bretscher '19, Eugenia Kang '16, Sarah Han '16, David Batdorf '16, Elliot Franklin '17, Austin Odling '18, Lucas Anholzer '18, Calvin Brown '16, Jeff Burge '17, Charles Nystrom '18, and Kirkland An '17.
Tags: My Wheaton, Spiritual Life, Student Activities
Just four years ago, I was a bright-eyed high school graduate headed to Wheaton College, and I had big goals: make lots of forever-friends, get all As, find my one true love, and come out a “stellar” Christian.
Some of those things did happen, but more importantly, I realized I am not defined by my accomplishments. My worth is not determined by grades, for learning goes deeper than the letters printed on my report card. And my value is not decided by the number of friends I accumulated, the guys I dated, or the prayers I cried when failure and rejection were close companions. Wheaton College has, instead, taught me that the most important thing about me is that I am loved by a merciful and gracious God.
Wheaton College is a flawed place made up of flawed people redeemed by our loving Father’s grace. For me, it has been a safe place to question, grieve, rejoice, and confront my fears and guilt. I have mourned with my brothers and sisters over systemic injustice as part of the Shalom Community, found myself humbled in the immersion of a different culture during Wheaton in England, and discovered solace while walking alongside literary giants, realizing we both seek the same truths.
It seems surreal: in just a few days I’ll say a teary-eyed farewell to professors and classmates, receive my cap, gown, and diploma, and consider myself an official alumna of Wheaton College. It has been such a privilege to learn and grow at Wheaton College. So thank you: to the professors, classmates, friends, and staff who have shown me the love of Christ stretches deep, and far, and wide. Thank you for the books I have read, the finals I have studied for, and the papers written. Thank you for the challenges, the tears, the laughter. I can’t imagine spending the past four years anywhere else.
Katherine Braden '16 is an English major with a writing concentration and a minor in community art. She has edited the #MyWheaton blog from August 2015 through May 2016 and has been continually blessed to hear and share stories of her classmates' Wheaton experiences.
Photo Captions: Katherine on the English moors during Wheaton in England; Katherine (second from left) with housemates; Katherine with Shalom House Community.