Music major Natalie Correll shared her testimony with listeners at a recent event for friends of Multnomah. The following is a condensed version of her speech.
Multnomah plays a leading role in my life story. I thought I had everything planned out perfectly, but at the last minute all my plans came to a hault. After I’d graduated high school, in summer 2009, I was traveling in Europe for a short-term mission’s leadership training. My team leader asked me why I hadn't considered Multnomah; some of his kids had attended, and he had nothing but positive comments for the MU community. I had been to a few youth events at Multnomah, but I had never considered it as a prospective university.
My 19 year-old self that summer was enduring a heap of pain and shame as I was going through the traumatic ending of a unhealthy relationship. My world was being shaken to the core, making me question who God was and how He was going to use me — a very lost girl — to change the world around me. Despite my broken heart, God had a plan that was rapidly unfolding. After talking with my leader during our trip, and through heaps of prayer, I decided to submit my application to MU while I was in Europe.
While I was still out of the country, my parents were generous enough to meet with Admissions and the Registrar’s Department to figure out the details. In the trusting relationship I had with my parents, we decided together that God was leading me to Multnomah. After such a painful year in my life, I wanted to live, breath and eat the Word. There was nothing that I wanted more than to become a woman who loved my heavenly Father more than myself. I was so tired of choosing my own path and refusing the acceptance of Christ.
After my first two weeks of classes, I realized very quickly that Multnomah was home for me. This was the start of something new. My story, once characterized by ash and death, was now being revitalized into beauty, new growth and the reality of flourishing! God, through the renewal of my mind, cast hope where darkness raged out of control. At the core of who I was, God was speaking a message of value and giving me genuine desire for unity, friendships and cause. This was all hitting me within the first two semesters at Multnomah.
Over the next three years, my perspective started to look very different. I became much more aware of the value in personal leadership, and I changed dramatically:
- I used to think if I took what I considered to be authentic friendships and used them like networking cocktail mixers, I could really gain some life traction.
- I used to think I had to be somebody important to accomplish things, but I started to realize Jesus uses ordinary people more.
- I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but I started to become more afraid of succeeding at things that didn't matter.
- I used to think Jesus motivated us with ultimatums, but I now know He pursues us in love.
I started to see that Jesus asks us to join the adventure of a sincere faith in Him so He can direct our hearts, not our self-promotion. Multnomah created an environment of accelerated growth that prompted me to start asking real questions. Would I take what I thought defined me and leave it behind, or would I let God define who I was instead?
In my second year, I became very involved with our Student Life team as a Resident Assistant, started leading a chapel worship band and jumped into a Jazz Ensemble! And as my junior year approached, my best friend and I felt lead to plan an event for the youth of this generation to become more aware of the injustices happening just one street away on 82nd Avenue. We co-founded a human-trafficking event ministry called the Isaiah Project. With the help of our student friends and Karen Fancher’s wisdom and insight, we had over 350 students packed into Central Bible's auditorium for an evening of learning and inspiration. These youth groups and their leaders not only heard ways of identify human-trafficking and insight into its reality, but they were also empowered by the Gospel Story that gave insight into why we should do something about this in the first place. We viewed the issue through a Jesus lens!
As I was finishing my third year at Multnomah and planning for the next, another surprise came around the corner: I enrolled at Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia. Even though I knew this adventure would set me back one year from graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I knew this opportunity was from the Lord, so I went after it. I spent the entire year of 2013 in the land down under.
It was a year of studying worship music, creating stage designs for international conferences and diving into a deeper love for the Church. Multnomah had prepared me with a biblical foundation so that I could experience all that God had planned for me that year. My life was transformed eternally as my world became very big; I was able to work alongside people from France, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, South Africa, America, England, The Netherlands and Egypt!
In all honestly, there were some very hard, physically-taxing times in Australia, as I was dealing with a ruptured disk in my back. But there were so many moments where I was blown away by God’s faithfulness and provision. This was definitely a time when Jesus was teaching me (in the words of Bob Goff) that “I have an invitation every morning when I wake up to live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does.”
God used every last experience at Multnomah and at Hillsong to launch me even further into His presence. Since I came back to the States in January 2014 and began my senior year at Multnomah, I have been overcome with thankfulness that God led me to MU, which ultimately led me to a life filled with Christ. The legacy has touched me and my husband (whom I also met at Multnomah), as well as some of my closest friends, who will be in my corner forever.
Because of the leaders who established Multnomah’s culture and foundations a very long time ago, so many students have been given the opportunity to answer God’s whisper to humanity: “It's your move.” I picture Heaven leaning over the rails, waiting to see what we will do with our lives in response to and for Him. Thank you for investing in Multnomah. The students here are looking to the future with the expectation that God can and will use them to make a difference. Thank you.