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Categories: Alumni, Pray For MU, Students
Dear Multnomah Family Member,
You’re probably familiar with a certain miracle God did through Elijah in 1 Kings. But maybe, like me, it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the connection this story has to your life.
One day, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food” (1 Kings 17:8-9).
Zarephath was full of wicked idolaters and worshippers of Baal. The vile King Ahab was sovereign in the land. Furthermore, King Ahab was searching for Elijah so he could kill him.
For Elijah, God’s command was a real test of faith, and the prophet needed to learn this lesson quickly: To follow the Lord by faith is to do so without succumbing to the fear of the cost.
Elijah journeyed 100 miles to Zarephath, where he found a widow at the city gate. He asked her to bring him a little water and a piece of bread. Her response was heart-breaking: “As surely as the LORD your God lives, I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, so that we may eat it — and die” (1 Kings 17:12).
But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a loaf of bread for me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land’” (1 Kings 17:13-14).
The widow did as Elijah said, and the miracle took place: The flour and oil didn’t run out!
How often do we focus on the problem, rather than the Provider? This narrative is a great reminder to ask myself: Have I prayed about it as much as I’ve worried about it?
The beauty of this story is the faith required of both people involved. God told Elijah that a widow would be taking care of him. This was a fearful predicament, as widows were the first to die off in times of famine or drought. The situation was not unlike relying on a homeless person to provide for you.
The widow also faced a terrifying reality: God had commanded her to give away everything she had left to a perfect stranger — a fugitive. At face value, it seems like a cold-hearted request. But when asked to deny her basic instinct of self-preservation, she responded in faith — and her faith was rewarded with bounty.
This is the place our Father desires us to be. He longs for us to trust Him fully and walk by faith despite circumstances. Where are we today? Are we in a place of full surrender where we can truly give everything when we hear Him call?
Beloved, Multnomah is indeed hitting the marks. We finished the 2016 fiscal year well thanks to the faith and generosity of our supporters. Student enrollment is up. We’re launching a biology degree this fall. And for the last 12 years, Multnomah’s students have consistently scored significantly higher in reading comprehension and critical thinking than national averages of other universities.
At the same time, we hear the groans of our society call out for the return of Christ, whether they know it or not. As we witness U.S. shootings, terrorist killings across the globe, and the false promise of politicians as saviors, we know without a doubt: People still desperately need our Savior and King Jesus. Multnomah is responding by raising up Spirit-led men and women who fight injustice, cultivate peace and share the radiant message of Christ in a world filled with violence and turmoil. That’s why your generous gifts to Multnomah are needed now more than ever. Every gift, no matter how small, makes a difference. We invite you to participate however you can.
Secondly, we ask you to pray fervently every day. Can we stand together and pray as Multnomah trains men and women who will impact the world for Jesus? Pray for God to grow our faith so our offerings to Him will be multiplied for all eternity. Pray for us all to have faith like Elijah and the widow. Let us come together and put our full trust in God.
Growing in faith,
Dr. G. Craig Williford
Categories: Alumni, Events
PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah University is proud to announce the recipient of the 2016 Alumnus of the Year Award: Dr. Tim Mackie, a teaching pastor at Door of Hope Church and professor of biblical studies at Western Seminary. He also works as a creative writer for The Bible Project, a nonprofit he founded with MU alum Jon Collins.
Mackie began attending Multnomah in 1996 and was immediately captivated by biblical studies and languages. “Professors Ray Lubeck and Karl Kutz ignited an insatiable appetite for learning and discovery,” he says. “Those years shaped the trajectory of my life in every way.”
After graduating with a major in Greek and a minor in Hebrew, Mackie went on to earn his master’s and Ph.D. In 2012 he reconnected with former classmate Jon Collins, who pitched an idea: What if they created a series of animated videos that explained biblical themes and narratives? Mackie loved the idea, and the two launched The Bible Project in 2014.
The Bible can be intimidating, says Mackie. Many dive in with gusto and good intentions, but their understanding of the text isn’t strong enough to sustain their momentum. That’s where The Bible Project videos come in.
“We want a new generation to feel empowered to read the Bible for themselves,” says Mackie. “We want these videos to give Christians confidence while also helping skeptics understand what a Christian worldview is claiming and why it’s worth investing in.”
Today The Bible Project has 15 full-time employees and is supported by more than 4,000 monthly donors. You can watch their videos at thebibleproject.com. You can also hear Mackie speak at the Alumnus of the Year Chapel at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 6, 2016.
Categories: Alumni, Students
A little white prayer chapel sits in the center of Multnomah’s campus. It’s hemmed in by hydrangea puffs and leafy foliage, and its cross-topped steeple pokes above the birch and cherry trees that cast their shade against its whitewashed walls. Inside, the sunlight filters through pale magenta windowpanes onto rows of oaken pews. It smells slightly aged — like a room matured by many visitors.
The altar is the centerpiece. There is a simple wooden cross and mahogany Wurlitzer piano with a worn-out bench and open hymnbook. Above it is a stained glass image of the cross overshadowing the globe.
Those who seek the Lord have found him in the sacred silence of this hiding place.
The Center of Campus
Since its construction in 1957, the little building has been a quiet refuge, a safe hideaway, a quaint aesthetic addition, and an invitation to enter into a different sort of lifestyle.
“The chapel was built to provide a place on campus for students to get away and talk to the Lord,” says Distinguished Professor Emeritus David Needham.
“Prayer at MU is taken seriously,” says Vice President of Advancement Steve Cummings. “Everything we do is bathed in prayer because we know that we don’t move forward unless the Lord leads us.”
Alumna Emi Koe remembers the reason for the chapel’s central location: “The slogan when we were students was that the prayer chapel was the center of campus as prayer should be the center of our lives,” she says.
“It is a true and meaningful symbol to have the prayer chapel with its clean, white lines and its steeple pointing toward God in the center of campus,” adds alumna Gail Lundquist. “May it truly be Multnomah’s desire to have prayer as the foundation for everything.”
‘A Different Kind of Quiet’
But the chapel isn’t only a symbol, of course.
At the beginning of her sojourn at Multnomah, Regina Molokomme slipped into the prayer chapel to commit the next few years to the Lord. In response to God’s calling, she had recently moved from South Africa to enroll in seminary.
“I did not know about the journey ahead of me, but I just presented myself to God,” she says. From complete funding for school, to strength for her studies, to a vision for the future, Molokomme has consistently received God’s provision.“My prayers have been answered in that place,” she says.
While it serves as a site of initial dedication, the prayer chapel is also a space for continued communion with God. “When I am there, I am affirmed that he is with me,” says youth ministry major Josh Smith.
“It’s a holy place set apart from the stress of academia,” says English major Rebekah Nayduik. “There’s a peace when you walk in.”
English major Sierra McKinney agrees. “It’s a different kind of quiet. I walked in and felt this calmness.”
Throughout the process of schooling at MU, biblical studies major Curtis Bell spent intentional time in the silence provided by the prayer chapel. “I remember my best friend Cory and I praying in there daily,” he says. “We broke down and prayed for our families. We were even on the floor weeping. Those were precious moments with my best friend and the Lord.”
Alumnus Larry Day remembers similar moments within. “I would go there for quiet time when I was confused about what God wanted,” he says. “It’s a significant place to me.”
A few years ago, Day and his wife decided to refurbish the prayer chapel at their own expense. They replaced the pews, adjusted the altar area, and added a soft new carpet so that people could spend time on their knees. “There is something that happens to our soul when we kneel before God,” Day says.
Master of Arts in Counseling student Zach Jones noticed that the intimacy of the prayer chapel was also perfect for a different kind of kneeling. With the romantic addition of decorative lights and music, he proposed to his wife Sarah inside of it.
“The chapel will always be special to us,” Sarah says. “It reminds us that God was in our lives long before each other; he’s the one that brought us together.”
The Legacy Continues
After the graduation gown has been donned, and the diploma presented, and the path away from Multnomah has been blazed, the prayer chapel still stands as a monument; it’s a place for returning and reflecting.
Alumnus Scott Burns remembers God’s faithfulness whenever he visits. Although it’s a long way from his home in England, he continues to stop in from time to time.
“I’ve spent numerous hours with God in that tiny little building,” he says. “It resulted in me walking forward with a greater awareness of my need for Jesus and knowing how desperately I need His power to be at work in and through me.”
As the years roll on and the steady stream of quiet visitors filters in and out, the prayer chapel remains the birthplace of vision, the assurance of God’s presence, the place where prayers are answered, and a reminder of what he has done in each life that passes through.
Categories: Alumni, Books
Educational Ministries graduate Paul J. Pastor released his first book, “The Face of the Deep: Exploring the Mysterious Person of the Holy Spirit,” on February 1 (David C. Cook, 2016). It’s available for order wherever books are sold. Until you can get your hands on a copy, Pastor answers our questions about “Face of the Deep” and the unique vision behind it.
Can you give a brief synopsis of your book?
I’d love to. “The Face of the Deep” is a theology book about the Holy Spirit, but from an unusual angle.
The book embodies a theology of the Holy Spirit in its form as well as its content — in how I wrote, not just what I wrote. As a result, “The Face of the Deep” is structured symbolically, and written in tight creative non-fiction (prose poetry at times). My style has been very generously compared to Wendell Berry or Annie Dillard, a wonderful, unusual way to write about doctrine.
If I had to say the book is about one aspect of that theology, it would be the Holy Spirit’s immanence, which is the two-dollar word for the closeness God keeps with creation. But with that said, people shouldn’t get false expectations. The book is not an exhaustive work of pneumatology at all, nor is it an organized spiritual memoir. It’s really meant to be a prose icon — art that embodies theology and sharpens our ability to see and know God. There’s a lot of personal story in the book, a lot of history, theological meditation, biblical exegesis, even a fair bit of nature writing. But it all traces how the Spirit and his love is much closer and more meaningful than we think.
What compelled you to write “Face of the Deep”?
A personal question and a community mission.
In many ways, I wrote this book because I needed to read it. I felt a gnawing question about the Holy Spirit for many years — where is he? My family came to Christianity in a Charismatic tradition, but even still, it seemed that my experience of the Spirit, and the ways people talked about him in church were light years away from the stories and poetry I read about him in the Bible. I needed to see the Spirit in my life, my world, the way that I saw him in the Bible — close, and good, and strange, and very holy. I began to find him, often where I least expected him.
But that quest soon spilled over into a broader calling. I began talking about the Spirit with others who shared my questions or frustrations, and began to see that the calling to explore was for more than just myself. I wrote my graduate thesis on links between the stories of Babel and Pentecost, then began teaching a yearly class on the Holy Spirit here at Multnomah that taught doctrine in that “immanent” way, integrating icon, art, poetry, and story with classic systematic theology. Each time, the response was overwhelming: “Why don’t we talk about this in church?” “I see God even more richly now.” “Where can I go to learn more of this?”
Eventually, the vision for the book came to me all at once, in the time it took me to walk from the front step of our house inside. I saw it all—that it needed to include stories from my life, art, symbol, densely and beautifully written, structured as symbols within symbols.
You and graphic artist Martin French collaborated to create 14 modern icons of the Holy Spirit for your book. Can you tell us more about the images you two came up with? Why did you want to include original iconography?
Holy beauty leads us deeper into the knowledge of a holy God. There are times that an image can speak in ways that rational arguments cannot, and it was important for me to ground the book with powerful, compelling illustration. Wow, did Martin ever do that!
We worked together to create symbolic images (“Seven Stars” and “Seven Lampstands”) that integrated ancient symbols and a few modern ones, each visualizing a particular doctrine about the Holy Spirit, emphasizing the way that he works in and loves our world. The images form a path to think about the Holy Spirit in images, not just words.
How might reading “Face of the Deep” benefit the journey of a Christ-follower?
I think they’ll fall much more in love with God, in renewed imagination and wonder.
They’ll come out on the other side of this book with new language to talk about the Spirit’s holy work in their own life, a clearer understanding of how the Spirit works with the Father and Son, and most importantly, the invitation to live with the Spirit in a deeper, richer way than they might have imagined possible.
Also, I think that it’s beautiful book to read — and that never hurts the soul!
What are your hopes for this book?
Before anything else, my hope is that the Spirit himself is happy about it! From the beginning, I prayed that this book would be an offering to him, something lavish and lovely, purely from a sincere heart and adoration for the Trinity.
As well, I hope that it sparks conversation — that people, pastors, churches, even book clubs or small groups all can use it as the first step in discovering the Spirit’s work and closeness in their own lives.
And thirdly, I hope that other young theologians, writers, artists, and poets are inspired to pick up their pens and paintbrushes, notebooks and cameras, and begin considering how they can express the historic truths of our beautiful faith in fresh, exciting ways. Theology is rational, but so much more than a bare mental exercise. It needs to live, breathe, burn. This book is one small way that the truth of the Creator God is coming out in my life. I hope it inspires others to explore the mysterious life of God’s Holy Spirit in theirs.