It’s hard to believe that my freshman year is just a few short weeks from ending. It has been a whirlwind experience, and God has surprised me in ways that I never expected. I found my first surprise on my floor this year, Fischer 4West. I grew up as the only girl with three younger brothers, so the idea of suddenly living in close quarters with 50 other girls was both exciting and a little daunting. I had heard great things about residence life at Wheaton (or Res Life, as it is endearingly termed), but I also knew that housing that many girls together held potential for some serious drama.
All of my hesitancies have disappeared as I’ve gotten to know my floormates this year. I have laughed heartily and cried bitterly with these girls, shared lots of meals, enjoyed fun days in Chicago and long nights of good conversation. They are so much more than floormates to me now. They have become some of my closest friends, and I am 100 percent confident that those friendships won’t end with the close of this school year.
A second surprise came through landing a job in Wheaton’s Academic and Institutional Technology (AIT) department. As an English and secondary education major with no prior IT experience, I wasn’t expecting much when I turned in an application to AIT at the beginning of the year, but a few weeks and three rounds of interviews later, I was offered a position as a student tech in their office.
Learning to “think like a computer,” in the words of my supervisor, has definitely proved to be a challenging process, but everyone with whom I work has been incredibly patient and gracious to me as I learn to stretch this part of my brain. One of the best feelings in the world is seeing someone’s face light up when you fix their computer’s problem, and I love being able to help people in that way.
I discovered the third and final surprise—Wheaton’s community diversity—through class discussions and informal conversations around campus. In these spaces, I have found dozens of fascinatingly different nationalities, upbringings, and ways of thinking. I didn’t expect an explicitly Christian school of 2,400 students to offer that kind of diversity. I am so thankful that I thought wrong. Hearing other people’s opinions and worldviews has challenged me to think critically about my own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others.
People often ask me, “Are you glad you chose to go to Wheaton?” With newfound friends, the opportunity to learn to think like a computer, and a broadened view of life and the body of Christ, how can I say no? In fact, I’m so glad that I chose Wheaton that, next year, I’ll be serving prospective students as a member of the Diakonoi and building community as a returning resident of Fischer 4West. I look forward to seeing what other surprises God has in store.
Chloe Keene is a freshman studying English and secondary education. Learn more about her Wheaton experience by visiting her author bio page. Photos from top: Chloe and friends enjoy a square dance on campus, visit HoneyRock in the winter, and enjoy their proximity to Chicago and its landmarks.
In Hawaiian, “Ohana” means family. “Koinonia,” a transliterated form of the Greek word κοινωνία, which means communion and joint participation, basically holds the same meaning for me. “Koinonia” is an idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Body of Christ. Koinonia, a club within the Office of Multicultural Development at Wheaton that exists to glorify God through the unique cultures of Asian community, is definitely not this idealized perfect community. But with all its imperfections, it has been my refuge at Wheaton.
Before I got involved with Koinonia, I was its biggest critic. Like many Wheaties, I wrote Koinonia off as an exclusive Korean club. As a racial minority on campus and an ethnic minority among the Asian community, Koinonia seemed unwelcoming to me as a Taiwanese. However, as a cabinet member of the Chinese Culture Club, the opportunity I had to work with Koinonia in organizing the campus-wide Lunar New Year Festival event during my sophomore year proved me wrong.
During the two-month-long planning period, Koinonia’s cabinet showered me with love, acceptance, and inclusivity. Despite not being part of the cabinet, I was often invited to have dinner with them and was included in many casual conversations. Due to the kindness that Koinonia cabinet showed me, I could no longer stubbornly hold on to the negative image I had of Koinonia. Coincidentally or not, I discovered that Koinonia was preparing to recruit for the following year’s cabinet. My prideful self still desperately wanted to cling on to the bitterness I had towards Koinonia, but after a hard period of struggle, I surrendered my pride and pain to God and asked Him to give me the chance to be part of this community.
Through being part of Koinonia, I’ve learned the importance of race-specific ministries. Growing up in Taiwan and China, I’ve always held strong prejudices against other East Asians for political and historical reasons. The bitterness I harbored in my heart against non-Taiwanese Asians was eliminated through the relationships I built with my Asian brothers and sisters. Furthermore, I began to explore and find my identity in Christ in a contextualized way through living in a community that understands and affirms my Asian experiences in this country.
Serving as Koinonia’s president this past year has been the most humbling thing I have experienced my whole life. Not only did God expose an array of shortcomings I never knew I possessed, He showed me His abiding love and grace through my cabinet members. Despite the countless times I failed them, my cabinet chose not to hold grudges, but instead confronted me for the sake of reconciliation and love. They’ve seen the worst side of me, yet still choose to love me and respect me—if this is not family, I don’t know what is. They showed me that this community is not about perfection and performance; Koinonia exists for the imperfect and the broken.
In Hawaiian, “Ohana” means family. Koinonia means family to me. It is my family.
Jennifer Fu ’15 is a senior studying geology. Read more about her Wheaton experience on her author bio page. Photo credits: Daniel Sung-Min Yoon '15.
When described on paper, Matthew Adams '17 may seem like a thoroughly left-brained academic, focusing on pre-med classes as a freshman before switching to a political science major and ultimately hoping to pursue a career in law after he graduates from Wheaton.
What doesn’t come out on paper, though, is Matthew’s profound love for dance.
“When I step onto a dance floor, especially when I’m there by myself just worshipping God, there’s this peace that comes over me,” Matthew says.
In addition to dancing alone in the SRC studio or informally with his friends, Matthew has found an outlet for his passion through his involvement with Zoe’s Feet, a ministry on campus that seeks to facilitate worship for performers and their audiences through live dance routines.
“Zoe means life; and Zoe’s feet is like ‘life-feet,’ showing the life that God has given us, through dance,” Matthew notes.
The group brings together dancers with different stylistic backgrounds and different degrees of experience, uniting a diverse group of dancers with the goal of embodying worship through movement. While some Zoe’s Feet members have been dancing since childhood, others, like Matthew, only recently discovered their love for dance.
“I started [dancing] my senior year of high school, which is kind of unbelievable,” Matthew explains. “But I really just felt called to dance and worship with my body… I really enjoyed it and I was good at it, as well, so that’s why I decided to start it here at Wheaton College.
Zoe’s Feet members dance together, but they also meet regularly to fellowship and support one another spiritually. To Matthew, the potential for dance to operate as worship is so strong that the connection between praying together and twirling together seems natural.
“I feel like God created dance so we could worship him, because it’s giving our entire selves to him, which is a beautiful thing,” he says. “And that’s what dance allows me to do.”
Matthew Adams is a sophomore political science major from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Learn more about his dreams and favorite Wheaton moments on his author bio page.
After high school, the process of my admission to college was delayed for nearly two years by university strikes in Ghana. During this time, I had an intense desire to reach teens for Christ. I felt compelled to speak of God's love and purpose to every young person I came in contact with. Having prayed and fasted and received the direction to go, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. I began my missionary journey to schools in my community to preach Christ to them.
On one of my visits, the head of the school questioned my credibility and authority in visiting schools to preach. He requested a letter of introduction from a recognized institution or I would not be allowed into the school premises. This began my partnership with Scripture Union.
In 1998, I was appointed as a Bible Clubs Coordinator (BCC) for Scripture Union. This involved planting Bible clubs in schools, nurturing existing ones, planning evangelistic rallies for the clubs every school term, organizing evangelistic holiday camps for club members and their friends during summer breaks, and holding teachers’ consultations once a year. I was 19 years old and had enormous passion with little knowledge. Yet in less than two years God’s grace allowed me to plant over 100 Bible clubs in junior high schools. Glory be to God. It became easy to recruit, train and deploy many high school leaders to help with reaching other schools for Christ and his Kingdom.
My experience with Scripture Union influenced me in joining the Ghana Fellowship of Evangelical Students (GHAFES) on my campus at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 1999 to continue influencing other leaders for Christ. After college, though I went to serve in corporate Ghana, my passion was always in finding means to influence others for Christ. In 2008, it became clear that my drive to raise leaders needed more impetus, so I resigned from my corporate position and gave my whole attention to intentionally raising leaders.
After a decade of serving in many capacities in churches and parachurch organizations, I desired more. My search brought me to Wheaton College in fall 2014 due to seeds sown in me by Wheaton alumni across the globe. I have come to appreciate Wheaton's academic excellence and its spirit-filled, gifted faculty. In my evangelism and leadership master’s program, I am receiving from faculty and the community the skills and grace necessary to sharpen my ability to inspire hearts, inform heads, and empower hands of emerging leaders.
Kingsley Kwayisi M.A. ’15 is pursuing a master’s degree in evangelism and leadership at Wheaton College Graduate School. Learn more about the Wheaton College Graduate School’s programs and apply on their website.
God is stirring a passion for prayer on this campus. This, I have been told, is customary before God brings revival to Wheaton. So as multiple prayer groups have been popping up in Smith-Traber Hall on Monday nights, at the Chaplain’s Office early Tuesday mornings, in Williston Hall on Wednesday nights, and at off-campus houses on Thursday nights (just to name a few), it seemed fitting to have a space where people from all different Wheaton friend groups and activities could come together in prayer for our school.
Last semester, a prayer time was held during chapel time on a Tuesday for the events surrounding Ferguson, Missouri, the people involved with it, and the change it was inspiring. I was blown away by the power of people coming together from across campus to bring our worries and hopes before God. As I was leaving the campus-wide prayer time, the students I left with vocalized the same thing I was feeling: “This needs to happen all the time.”
This semester we are making it happen every Tuesday during chapel time (from 10:30-11 a.m.). Every person who is a part of the Wheaton College community is invited to come to the east wing of Edman Chapel to join with us in prayer.
Campus Prayer began this past Tuesday, and was led by myself, freshman class chaplain Mikey Mitchell, and sophomore class chaplain Maddison McGee. We all serve in chaplain roles within Student Government. We provided the following prayer requests to give direction and inspiration during the prayer time:
- That God would give the campus a renewed desire to seek him together
- That we would all take advantage of the fresh start of the semester to examine where God is prioritized in our lives and establish new routines that keep him at the center, and
- That Wheaton would become a place where every member of the campus community would be led to confess their sins, and that with the rise of confession would come a spirit of freedom and joy.
In coming weeks, we are asking different groups around campus to lead the prayer time by sharing the things that their group hopes to see God do on campus.
Another element incorporated into the campus prayer time is art. In order to remind those who gather in prayer about the things we have been praying for, every group that leads is providing a picture—drawn, painted, or otherwise—of the things they hope to see God do on campus. The idea is that in seeing the art from past weeks, we can remain faithful in praying for those things as well as recognizing the ways in which God has answered our prayers.
So please pray with us! Whether you are able to be present with us in person on Tuesday mornings or not, we can all be praying for God to do great things at Wheaton this semester. I have confidence that you can stand with us in great expectation that our prayers will be answered.
Katrina Burlet is a senior studying political science. Every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. during spring semester 2015, in the East Wing of Edman Chapel, students, faculty, staff, administration, and local alumni will gather for campus prayer. The photos above were captured at the first meeting of the semester on Tuesday, January 27th. Student Government Chaplain Katrina Burlet, Sophomore Class Chaplain Maddison McGee, and Freshman Class Chaplain Mikey Mitchell led students, faculty, staff, and members of administration in prayer for God to give the campus a renewed desire to seek him together; for all faculty, staff and students to take advantage of the fresh start of the semester to examine where God is prioritized in our lives and establish new routines that keep him at the center; and for Wheaton to become a place where every member of the campus community confesses their sins, and that with the rise of confession would come a spirit of freedom and joy. The illustration above, presented at January 27th’s prayer meeting, was completed by Julia Zeller ’15.