Dear Alumni and Friends of Multnomah,
This February we held a series of events at Multnomah to celebrate 80 years of God’s faithfulness to this beloved institution. About 250 alumni visited campus for Homecoming, and a week later we hosted another event with some friends of MU. At the latter function, Natalie Correll, who works in our Admissions Department and graduates in May, shared a powerful testimony (read it here).
Natalie’s story reminds me so much of two verses in John 8:
As God’s Word took root in Natalie’s life, the truth set her free! But her story is just the tip of the iceberg. Disciples like Natalie are constantly experiencing transformation at Multnomah. But it takes time. Jesus invested in His disciples for three years, preparing them for effective ministry. Likewise, we pray that our 762 undergraduate, graduate, degree completion and seminary students come to know truth while they continue being prepared for what God has in store for them.
This is happening today in various ways. Let me share three examples:
It’s happening in the classroom. Just last week, Professor Jay Held, our pastoral ministry department chair, interrupted his class with an impromptu “field trip” to call on a student who was hurting. The student had received news of the death of a friend back home and had chosen to skip class that day. Professor Held and his class located their classmate across campus, loved on him, and prayed with him. That intentional act touched this freshman deeply as he felt the truth of how much God and His people cared for him.
It’s happening in chapel. Just last month, Tasha Irwin (a senior in our MA in TESOL program) received a life-changing message from MU alum Marcus Brotherton, who shared a powerful truth in chapel. “Marcus challenged us to learn to love ourselves as our heavenly Father loves us,” she says. “That resonated with me so deeply. To love our neighbors as ourselves, I understand. But the part I often forget and struggle with is loving myself as God loves me!”
It’s happening in Student Life. Just last week, Associate Dean of Students Rich Ward launched a new event — Encouragement Week — because he wanted each student to feel supported amidst the stress of midterms.“When people know that they matter, they feel that they belong,” he says. Ward had surprises planned for each day of the week, and his team hung encouraging posters around campus that spoke truth to passing students: “Stay strong,” “You can do it,” and “We are always praying for you.” Bible and theology major Jennifer Kildal was one of the many students who loved the event. “It’s so cool to be at a school where they actually appreciate their students,” she says.
I could share even more inspiring stories about our students; amazing things are happening on campus every day. But despite these wonderful testimonies, we continue to face an increasing number of challenges. Here are a few of the pressures we face on a daily basis:
1. Attempts to prohibit or limit MU’s free practice of our biblical beliefs and standards (a recent local news story illustrates this dilemma).
2. The addition of regulatory standards from the Department of Education and the state of Oregon that will hinder our student enrollment growth and increase costs to students (read more about these issues).
3. Retaining students who want to continue their Multnomah education but lack the resources to do so.
4. Growing enrollment for our online programs. It takes time and resources.
5. Our Student Aid Fund goal this year is $1.5 million. To date, we are relying on God’s people to help us make the final $405,000 to meet this goal. The good news? Every gift given through June 30 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar.
Even though these issues are challenging to navigate, I’m so encouraged by the responses of our friends and alumni. Why? Because so many of you consistently display generous hearts toward Multnomah, even when we don’t ask for it. Yet God’s Spirit moves you, and your response is to give! I recently heard from one alum who attended our 80th Homecoming celebration: “We thoroughly enjoyed the Alumni Homecoming, Craig,” he wrote. “I noticed that a collection was absent, and I think this encouraged me to give even more, which I will do.” What a beautiful response! I was so energized by this alum’s experience.
I wrote this letter because I wanted to share with you the amazing transformations taking place on campus — and to let you know we’re facing real challenges too, so you can know how to pray for us and follow God’s lead in joining with us. We can only navigate this university with His help. Will you join our MU Prayer Warrior team? Will you participate in what God is doing at Multnomah as He directs you? Students are coming to know the truth, and it is setting them free! We invite you to invest and share in what God is doing at Multnomah.
Growing in generosity,
Rev. G. Craig Williford, Ph.D.