Christ calls us onto a path that is difficult and narrow. Christ invites us into a journey that is rewarding and life-giving. Nowhere did I see this tension and beauty – and experience the fruits of it – more than in Discipleship Ministries (DM) during my time at Wheaton. DM provided a loving, restful space every year for me at Wheaton. One of my dearest friends to this day was in my freshman year Discipleship Small Group. I still mentor two girls from the group I led by sophomore year. I keep up to date with the leaders I coached my junior year, and multiple members of the cabinet I led senior year have flown out to visit me after we all moved post-graduation. Additionally, I still turn to Pastor Ray Chang and my own small group leader, Ms. Candice Eisenhauer (Health Professions Director who has committed to serving in DM), for advice. Relationships that are formed when a group of individuals gathers around Jesus together truly last a lifetime. DM gave me a picture of what it looks like for the Church to be a family. Not only did this usher me into deeper relationship with the Triune God while I was at Wheaton, but it has also given me a model of what to look for and help create in my new local community. Many people have never experienced the intentional encouragement, self-giving support, and loving mutual accountability that I found commonplace in DM. I now have a passion for fostering these types of environments in the world outside of Wheaton so that all may receive these good gifts from God.
Looking back now as an alumna I am able to see how essential these experiences were to my development as a Christ-following leader. The trainings and practical application opportunities I had in DM have equipped me for a multitude of scenarios. I see the influence of DM in how my new roommates and I do life together, in my ability to listen well and facilitate conversation as I pursue my career as a psychologist, and in my confidence to step boldly with Christ into difficult situations. Because Ray Chang and others in DM believed in me and afforded me great responsibility within the ministry as Chair, I have learned how to use my voice to advocate for others, how to lead a team full of diverse perspectives and skillsets, and how to trust in God to meet our needs practically. Today, I lead a Christ-centered small group in southern Virginia that seeks to encourage people in their faith, while also finding ways to work against the sin of racism. The ages, races, ethnicities, and nationalities in the group are incredibly diverse and the topics we discuss are extraordinarily sensitive, intimate, and personal; DM played a large part in my ability to partner with Jesus in facilitating such a group. I believe true discipleship in Christ is the key to many of the issues facing the world and Church today and I am unendingly grateful for the ways DM trained me up in the way I should go and impacted my eternity. - Bethany Faulds, '20, Psy.D. student at Regent University