Max Olwa might be 9,000 miles from home, but he knows he’s in the right place at the right time.
What do Indiana Jones, theology seminars, a real camel, MU’s campus and 650 high schools students have in common? That's right: Spring Thaw. The weekend retreat, open to high school youth groups and their leaders, kicks off Friday, March 27 and concludes Sunday, March 29. Every year brings a unique theme, and 2015 is a mixture of ancient Egypt and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Youth Ministries Department Chair Dr. Rob Hildebrand has been running the event since its debut six years ago. "I do this because I really believe it's important to the kingdom," he says. "Spring Thaw has helped build community in youth groups, strengthened churches and brought kids to Christ. It helps kids experience solid teaching and grapple with deep thoughts in a world that is often shallow."
Six years ago, Andrew Alfeche was one of those kids. He remembers his first time at the retreat like it was yesterday. "I fell in love with Spring Thaw," he says. "It was an incredible experience."
During that weekend Alfeche stayed in an MU student's dorm room, where he overheard theological discussions that sparked a nagging interest in the Scriptures. "Hearing how passionate that student was about explaining the Gospel made me excited," Alfeche says, "I thought, 'If students here know the Bible that well, I want that too.'"
Two years later, Alfeche enrolled at MU. He's been volunteering at Spring Thaw ever since. "I always enjoy it so much," he says. "It's a lot more than a youth retreat. It's giving students a passion to follow Christ."
Volunteers like Alfeche have always made Spring Thaw possible. Several MU students and staff members plan, build and facilitate the retreat each year. A small group of students majoring in Youth Ministry take on larger leadership roles and serve as interns.
"This event gives them a chance to participate in some advanced youth ministry training," says Hildebrand. "They'll finish their weekend knowing they had a significant part in leading one of the larger youth ministry events in this region. It's very good experience for them in terms of skill development and résumé building."
The retreat is hosting a main speaker, Sid Koop, who will speak several times during the weekend. High school students will also attend theology seminars led by MU faculty. Hildebrand believes students learn best when they're in a balanced environment, so he developed plenty of activities, including comedy skits, a bacon bonfire, real-life Mario Kart, bubble soccer, hockey and a color war.
"Spring Thaw is a lot of work," he says. "But I believe it's important to the work God is doing in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m glad to be a part of that."
Registration is full, but visit the Spring Thaw Facebook page for more info about this retreat.
When Emil Khooda decided to earn his M.Div., a friend recommended Multnomah for its out-of-the-box thinking and cultural engagement program — New Wine, New Wineskins. That program had a lasting impact on Khooda’s life.
“Christians can get insular and forget to engage with people outside their faith,” he says. “New Wine is a hidden gem — it paints a vivid reflection of who Christ is and how he interacted with people.”
The seminary graduate says the program equipped him to meet his calling as a hospital chaplain. “Now I can meaningfully speak into peoples’ lives,” he says. Read Emil’s story.
Global studies provides students with everything intercultural studies did, but changing the name opened up the opportunity to add five concentrations:
These concentrations are interdisciplinary. So a student might take an English class on minority voices. Or say you have a student who wants to work in the Middle East after they graduate. Now they can spend a semester over there. Want to translate the Bible? Applied Linguistics will teach you how to preserve culture while giving the written word of God to those who haven't had access to it. Our concentrations provide students with better skills to work in their area of interest.
Over the past couple of years our department has been researching a way forward for our program given the complexities of our globalized world. We noted that the intercultural studies program had remained virtually unchanged for a number of years, so we assessed the program through student focus groups and one-on-one interviews. We got the sense that the current program was not connecting as well as it could with this generation of students who were living in a highly complex mission environment.
Students talked about needing practical skills and a targeted education. Now these concentrations get to the skills they wanted. We’ve also indicated potential career options around each concentration.
Another thing they mentioned was having redundant classes. So I removed an entire class and combined other classes.
The Children at Risk concentration. I’ve worked with street children and children at risk for over 10 years. That’s what God has made me for. This concentration prepares them for national and international work with kids.
We’re also enlarging the opportunities students will have for vocational ministry and marketplace jobs. I’m excited about the fact that we’re getting beyond that secular/sacred divide in missions that was so ingrained in many of our Bible colleges and seminaries. We have come to realize that we must engage with our culture and world in vocations that are relevant to where people are at.
Some students are not in the position to raise support for missions the traditional way. But there are things they can do beyond missions work. Their calling can be found in governmental or secular organizations. They can have salaries and still serve Christ in their mission. Others will still feel called to serve with faith-based missions agencies, and we still prepare people for support raising and missionary service.
There is a crisis in missiological education today. The culture of missions is changing, but a lot of missions programs haven’t changed. We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, and we’re trying to engage where we are today without watering anything down.
If you’re interested in serving people, working with ethnic groups, church-planting, international vocations — this is critical for you. You’ll be given the tools to thrive. If you want to be a transforming force in the world, these classes will help. Each concentration has its values and provides practical skills in those areas.
You’ll be well-rounded. You’ll become someone who loves God’s Word. And if you work with non-faith-based organizations, where you might be a minority as a Christian, developing habits of spiritual discipline will be all the more important.
Also, understanding global theology helps us understand what other people are thinking, so we’re not surprised with different ways of processing. We need to think openly when learning from the global church. Our faculty does a wonderful job preparing students for that.
The Global Studies Department is having a celebration/informational meeting, and you're invited!
Friday March 13
10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.*
Bradley Hall, B3
Intercultural studies students will learn about transitioning to global studies, and others can hear details about the new program. There will also be food, music and a time of international worship.
*This time counts toward chapel credits
Multnomah offers one of the finest Hebrew programs in the country. Expert professors provide a solid educational experience focused on extensive reading and designed for long-term retention. Devoted mentorship, innovative teaching methods and an in-depth understanding of language are the hallmarks of this major. "We’re learning things that are normally introduced at an advanced level ," says Hebrew major Julia Glanz.
Earlier this month, MU received a Torah scroll that will provide countless learning opportunities for Hebrew students in the decades to come. "It feels like we’re participating in a piece of history," says Biblical Languages Chair Dr. Karl Kutz, who headed two Dead Sea Scrolls projects at MU in 2013 and 2014. "When you’re reading from a scroll that someone read from hundreds of years ago, that’s pretty cool. The Torah takes the history of the biblical text from an abstract expression to something tangible."
MAGDJ Program Director Greg Burch introduces the first Night of Dialogue event on November 12
As evangelical believers, what roles do justice and development play in our desire to see the world reconciled to its Creator? How will biblical justice and development help us bring transformation to our communities? Through a TED talk style forum, a Night of Dialogue on Justice and Development brings together active scholars in this field to explore biblical understandings in these critical areas.
The event will be held on November 12th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the JCA Lounge (just outside of Roger’s Café) on campus and is being sponsored by the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice degree program.
Join us as we hear from Multnomah professor Paul Louis Metzger, lawyer and adjunct professor Mark Loomis and Ron Werner, Jr. of the organization Bend Youth Collective. In addition, several partnering nonprofits will be on hand to provide opportunities to get involved locally and internationally. We hope to see you there!
Learn more about Multnomah’s M.A. degree in Global Development and Justice.
When Rachel Piñon was looking at colleges, she was struck by the genuine nature of the people she encountered at Multnomah. And now that she’s finished her freshman year, she's convinced she chose the right place.
“This community is unmatched,” says Piñon. “I was welcomed so warmly by the people here.”
Piñon always wanted to attend a smaller school, and MU’s close-knit community has turned out to be a perfect fit.
“Living on campus helps you learn how to care for others,” she says. “People feel really blessed and loved here.”
That sense of openness extends to her interactions with professors. “They genuinely care about students’ spiritual growth,” says Piñon. “If you’re down, they help you get up.”
The Intercultural Studies major plans to be a missionary. Last month, she traveled to Kigali, Rwanda — along with a group of MU students — where she taught Bible stories to Rwandan children and ministered to the Kigali community. The trip helped Piñon apply what she’s learned at Multnomah.
Until she graduates, MU continues to equip Piñon with a grounded biblical perspective she deeply appreciates.
“My dream is to go to an unreached people group and translate the Bible into their language,” she says. “I always wanted to know my Bible better. Being at MU is an opportunity for me to hold out my faith to God and define what I believe...it's helping me become my own person.”
Amanda Schick is passionate about challenging her students. As an English teacher, she is constantly pushing them to think harder, dig deeper.
Schick says Multnomah had a huge impact on her career, and the wisdom she took from her professors continues to inspire her.
“MU is rigorous,” Schick says. “The quality education I received here put me in a different league than my colleagues. You don’t just walk out of Multnomah with information — you leave with a changed life.”
After receiving her bachelor’s degree at MU, Schick stayed to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. The program further immersed her in biblical truth and real-world experience. Now the English major teaches Creative Writing, English Language Development and Literacy at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, Ore.
“I love my job, and I love my students,” she says. “I love it when they get something and their eyes light up!”
Although Schick is unable to share her faith at school, she hopes her viewpoint will influence students for the better.
“When I present information to them in class, it’s solid and grounded, and there’s a basis for it,” she says. “I feel like this can anchor my students, even though I can’t overtly communicate my worldviews to them.”
For Schick, her work isn’t just about what she teaches – it’s also about how she teaches.
“At Multnomah, we see teachers who love what they teach, so they bring it to life,” she says. “It was never just lifeless facts on a page to them. Seeing this reminded me why I wanted to teach, and how I wanted to teach.”
As she continues to prepare her students for a lifetime of reading and writing well, Schick is grateful for the deep conviction and priceless lessons she gained from her professors and her Multnomah family.
“MU taught me how to have a voice and stand up for the things that are important to me,” she says. “I need to teach my students to do the same thing.”
Today's student story features an undergrad who's working toward becoming a doctor.
Everyone is at MU for different reasons. Alex Anderson, a firefighter with a passion for business, is working toward becoming an oncologist.
The goal is close to Anderson’s heart: His girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer last year.
“I’ve formed this overwhelming desire to save lives,” the business major says. “God has given me this opportunity to help people, and I love it.”
While he lays the groundwork for a gratifying career, Anderson is enjoying everything MU has to offer, especially the challenging classes and Christian fellowship. “I love learning about business,” he says. “There are a lot of different views, and I’m interested in learning everyone’s opinion so I can be a better professional.”
His professors are a big part of his life. “Everyone who teaches here is beyond qualified, and they all use their knowledge so wisely,” he says. “They are kind, and they try to help you find out who God is through his word. They’ll have a personal relationship with you and mentor you at the same time.”
As for his Bible and Theology major, it’s helping Anderson gain a firm foothold. “Multnomah’s a place where you learn what you believe and how it applies to your life,” he says. “You should always study what you believe and be able to defend your faith.”
Anderson credits MU with creating steady discipline and a strong work ethic in his life. His fellow students only encourage him to strive for his best.
“The bar for learning is a lot higher here,” he says. “And MU does a great job of ensuring all its students have a friendly and loving community around them. I love the dorm life so much; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It feels exactly like home.”
Today's student story features an amazing undergrad who's developing a life-changing gift.
Wendy Contreras has always loved to sing. She wanted to pursue music in college, but she wasn't convinced that she was capable.
Her insecurities faded during her freshman year when she began taking classes with MU’s private voice instructor, who recognized a rich potential.
“She made me see that I needed to pursue singing and never give up,” Contreras says. “If something’s meant for you, you’ll succeed.”
“I saw how the Lord used my music to touch people,” she says. “When I realized that he’d given me this gift, I wanted to be responsible with it.”
Since then, Contreras has learned piano at MU, and she's honed her talents in the university’s jazz ensemble. She also leads worship at MU’s weekly chapels.
The more she saturates herself in music, the more people ask her to sing at their churches or on albums they’re producing.
“God has been opening doors for me everywhere,” she says.
MU’s vibrant community of musicians has also played a big role in Contreras’ development as a vocalist. She used be afraid to share music she’d written. But once she did, her peers were full of compliments and support.
“I realized that I’d underestimated myself,” she says. “Now I can open up to fellow musicians.”
Despite all the recognition, Contreras says the most important thing she’s learned at MU is how to be humble.
“Humility is acknowledging everything you have without boasting,” she says. “I had to realize I was good at singing, but that it’s not for me – it’s for God’s glory. This is what I was created to do.”