Students

Connecting Continents: Students Reach Out to Rwanda

No Comments » Written on July 24th, 2014 by
Categories: Feature, Missions, Students

This summer, a group of MU students traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, to serve alongside former MU professor, Dr. Garry Friesen, who now teaches at the Africa College of Theology. During the trip, the team visited The Dream Boys, a nonprofit program that feeds and educates homeless Rwandan children.

"Getting to spend time with these boys was one of the main highlights of our trip," says sophomore Heidi Birch. "We got to play games with them, read them Bible lessons, act out skits, and teach them how to make bracelets. I will never forget the love that radiated from their hearts. This trip has changed my life forever."

Read the full story, Impacted by Love: My Trip to Africa.

Impacted By Love: My Trip To Africa

Heidi Birch, a sophomore majoring in educational ministries, shares about her recent trip to Rwanda with a group of MU students.

The adventure of a lifetime

As I started my freshman year of college at Multnomah, I had no idea that by the end of the academic year I would be sharing God’s glory all around The Land of a Thousand Hills — that’s the nickname given to Rwanda, Africa, thanks to its beautiful, mountainous landscape.

This February, after Dr. Gary Friesen had retired from teaching at MU, he moved to Kigali, Rwanda, to teach at the African College of Theology (ACT), a newly formed Bible college. Dr. Friesen has a vision to build a bridge between the students of Multnomah University and the students of ACT, so he invited a team of six students from MU to visit Kigali in May this year.

When I first heard about this trip, I was extremely skeptical. I wasn’t sure if I could get the time off work or where God was guiding me in life. But I felt something tugging on my heart to at least interview for a spot on the team. Two short weeks later, I was signing papers and fundraising to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

heidiburch_group_main

My team and me hanging out with the Dream Boys

Dream Boys

And six months later, there I was, standing alongside five others students, breathing in the African air.

First our team visited the African College of Theology. We got to sit in on classes, meet fellow Bible majors, and pray and worship alongside ACT students.

Then for three days of our trip, we got to help out with the Dream Boys, a nonprofit program that helps feed and educate the street boys of Rwanda. Getting to spend time with these boys was one of the main highlights of our trip. We got to play games with them, teach them Bible lessons, act out skits, and teach them how to make bracelets.

Though we taught them a lot, I feel as though they taught us more. Not only did they teach us words in their language, Kinyarwanda, but they also taught us how to smile — even in tough situations. One of the boys, Providence, had lost a finger just two weeks prior, due to an infection from a cut. But he was always one of the first to greet us with a grin on his face and joy in his heart.

Florence

After spending time with the Dream Boys, we got to drive out to two schools located in Kageyo, a village close to the border of Rwanda and Tanzania. At the second school, we got to go on our first Hope Visit to see a little girl named Florence. A Hope Visit is where a child who is not yet sponsored gets visited by one of the teams.

heidiburch_main

Florence, her family and me

From the moment I saw Florence, we became instant friends. Florence is one of four children who live with their widowed mother. When we arrived at her house, her mother looked at me holding her daughter’s hand. With tear filling her eyes, she embraced me tightly. I will never forget her face. It was a face of desperation, a face of hope, and a face filled with love.

When we first went to Florence’s home, she was unsponsored. But by the time we left, I knew that I had to sponsor her. Later the next day, I signed the papers, and she became my lifetime pen pal. I never realized what it meant to a child and their family to be sponsored till I sat in the house of one. A sponsorship can change a child’s life forever. It’s more than just a direct withdrawal and a letter now and then. It’s a uniform, an education, insurance, food, and a chance to thrive in a poor community.

I will never forget the love

This trip has changed my life forever. I will never forget the faces of those I met. I will never forget the love that radiated from their hearts. I will never forget the way that they trust their Savior — even in the most trying times of their lives. I am so grateful that Multnomah gave me the chance to experience a missional lifestyle outside of the U.S., and I’m excited for future opportunities to travel abroad to share the love of our Father with others.

Koby Krikac: No Boundaries

No Comments » Written on July 1st, 2014 by
Categories: Students

koby_mainAsk Koby Krikac why he chose Multnomah and you'll get a threefold answer: "One, it has the best language programs; two, it’s a biblical university; and three, it’s in Portland, and Portland’s weather is awesome," he says.

That last reason might seem odd — especially coming from a Los Angeles native. But Krikac wouldn't have it any other way. "I love how you can watch the seasons change here," he says. "You see God's beauty everywhere."

The Greek major has big dreams, and MU is proving to be the perfect launching pad. The senior is set on one day translating the Bible into a different language and planting a church in France with his wife. Studying at MU has been the first step toward that goal.

"Multnomah gives you the opportunity to master biblical languages," he says. "I’m learning from scholars who are professionals in their fields, so I have no boundaries of how much I can learn. I can grow as much as I want to!" Krikac says he plans on being fluent in both Greek and Hebrew (his minor) by the time he graduates in December.

Studying the languages is hard work, but the opportunity has given Krikac a deeper appreciation for God’s Word. "Certain flavors and colors of the Bible come out more when you read it in a different language," he explains. "What I’ve learned has given the Word a new depth."

Living on campus has made Krikac’s experience at MU even better. "The community really is a family," he says. "You get to know people quickly, and there are opportunities to invest in others."

And when it comes to investing in his education, Krikac is happy he chose a school that values financial aid as much as he does. "MU definitely helps you where you are," he says. "The grants and scholarships really help you out, but the things you learn here are priceless."

Krikac admits that some might see Multnomah's small size as a negative. But he encourages everyone to look past the surface. "You get such a quality education here, but in an intimate setting," he says. "And you get such great one-on-one moments with your professors. Plus, MU makes it possible for you to get two majors in four years — why wouldn’t you do that? This place faithfully teaches the Word of God and prepares you for life."

Rachel Piñon: Defining Her Faith

Comments Off Written on June 23rd, 2014 by
Categories: Programs, Students

rachel_mainWhen 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: Making an Impact

amanda_mainAmanda 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.”

Alex Anderson: Helping People Heal

Comments Off Written on June 10th, 2014 by
Categories: Programs, Students

Today's student story features an undergrad who's working toward becoming a doctor.

alex_mainEveryone 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.”

Wendy Contreras: Born to Sing

Today's student story features an amazing undergrad who's developing a life-changing gift. 

wendy_mainWendy 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.”

Contreras also credits Stan Campbell, director of MU's music program, with helping her see that the point of making music: bringing people back to God.

“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.”

 

 

Tawny Johnson: Cultivating Knowledge

This week we're featuring a student story about Tawny Johnson, who graduated from both our college and seminary. When Johnson started attending undergrad classes at 45, she had no idea why God had called her to MU. Nearly ten years later, she knows exactly why.

“Isn’t that a guy’s thing?” Tawny Johnson had just told someone she was going to seminary, and that was his response.

Johnson paused. She had never thought that learning about God was gender exclusive — but she was finding that many Christians did.

“There’s a common impression that studying theology at a master’s level is just for men,” Johnson says. “But theology is not masculine.”

Multnomah welcomes men and women into all its programs; nevertheless, its seminary is currently composed of mostly men. This never bothered Johnson; it only highlighted the importance of a seminary education for all Christians, regardless of gender.

'Take responsibility' 

“There’s been an emphasis in some areas of the Church to rely on men, but women need to delve into things themselves and take responsibility for their own spiritual lives,” Johnson says. “Regardless of what you think about men and women leadership roles in the church…that’s beside the point. It’s not a gender issue — it’s a Christian issue.”

Tawny_mainJohnson and Multnomah go way back.

In the ‘80s, she worked full-time for Multnomah Press, a publishing company previously owned by Multnomah. After 13 years filled with administration, marketing, foreign publishing, design, advertising and product development, she left her job in 1992, when Multnomah sold the press to another publishing company.

The right thing

Johnson took the loss of a successful career as a gain in her family life: She spent the next 13 years homeschooling her two daughters.

In 2005, she felt God leading her to Multnomah. She didn’t know why she was supposed to go. All she knew was that it was the right thing to do. So, with the support of her husband and children, she enrolled, not realizing that she was beginning a nine-year journey.

'It wasn't about me'

Freshman orientation in the undergrad program found her surrounded by 18-year-olds. Johnson was 45. “It was a bit intimidating to come back to school as an older adult,” she says. “But I knew that it wasn't about me — it was about what God wanted to do in me.”

For six years, Johnson attended MU while working part time as a receptionist at a hair salon. In 2010, she graduated with a minor in English. After she accepted her diploma and took her seat, she watched as MU’s master’s students were fitted with hoods — a sign of their academic achievements.

“I thought, ‘I want one of those!’” she says. One year later, she was back at Multnomah — this time for a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree.

'Part of a whole'

“I chose theological studies because it was a chance to integrate my love of theology and my love of history,” she says. “Now I have a broader view of the Church — I feel like I’m a part of a whole, and I appreciate the people who came before me in sacrifice and obedience.”

One of her favorite things about seminary was her teachers. “The professors at Multnomah are its strength,” she says. “They care about the student, and they cultivate an environment of stimulating exchange. They also help you think critically and address some misconceptions you probably have.”

One faculty member in particular, Dr. Brad Harper, taught several of Johnson’s theology classes over the years. “One time, he asked me if I felt out of place in the seminary,” she says. “I absolutely did not. My classmates and I all felt called to be there. Gender was never an issue with the professors or with my — almost exclusively male — counterparts.”

'My dream job'

Last month, Johnson finally earned her “hoodie”, as she affectionately calls it. “I threatened my husband that I was going to wear it to the grocery store, just to get some mileage out of it!” she jokes.

But Johnson began reaping the benefits of her degree before she was even finished with seminary. Just a few months before graduation, she was invited to join D.C. Jacobson & Associates as a literary agent.

“It’s my dream job,” she says. “My education in recognizing exceptional writing, depth of content and theological integrity has led me to this career. Multnomah was instrumental in cultivating that passion and knowledge which will assist me as I assess Christian books for publication. I will always feel connected to MU, and I'm sincerely grateful for the role it has played in my life.”

National Award Caps Remarkable College Experience

Erik Mendoza has been playing basketball for as long as he can remember. Like most kids, he learned the basics from dad in his front driveway. But unlike most kids, Mendoza began attending the Chicago Bulls Training Academy when he was 8. It was the '90s in Chicago. The Bulls were heroes; Michael Jordan was a king.

Mendoza, a die-hard Jordan fan, stayed at the academy until he was 15. After playing all four years of high school, he was ready to compete at the college level. A small school didn't appeal to him. He definitely wasn't planning on going to Multnomah.

erik_main‘Jesus has changed my life’

Mendoza’s step-dad and step-grandfather had attended MU. They had great things to say about the close-knit school in Portland. So despite some misgivings, Mendoza decided to visit.

Ultimately, it was the people that won him over.

"I was excited to move out West," he said. "And I had this curiosity about my faith."

Mendoza had been raised in the Church, but he was uncertain about what he'd learned there. Things changed when he moved onto campus his first year.

"When I came to MU, I was tired of an empty life," he said. Four years later, Mendoza is a different man. "Jesus has changed my life," he said. "He has given me so much peace."

Mendoza was also given endless opportunities to mature as an athlete and a Christ follower. His heart for others did not go unnoticed: This year, he was honored with the Pete Maravich Memorial Award, a national honor that annually recognizes an outstanding NCCAA senior who has shown excellence in competition, skill, academics and service.

‘I didn’t want to leave’

A year into Multnomah, Mendoza wasn't sure he was going to stay. He had developed a strong interest in business and marketing. At the time, MU had yet to launch its business program, so Mendoza considered transferring to a different school. He couldn't do it.

"I had made such good relationships here," he said. "I didn't want to leave."

The more he spoke to people about his interest in marketing, the more he felt a pull toward a psychology degree. Ultimately, he decided he could stay at MU and work toward the business world.

‘I've learned so much’

And that's exactly what Mendoza has done. During his sophomore year, he began working as a product tester for one of the world's top sports brands, Adidas. Every couple months, he'd take a pair of prototype shoes home and "wear the heck out of them." Over the next several months, Mendoza would take detailed notes on how the shoes felt, performed and stood up to countless hours in the court. Then he’d submit his observations to Adidas before starting the process all over again.

After two years of testing shoes, Mendoza interned in the product development department. The rapport he's built with Adidas, coupled with the experience he's gained at MU, has opened several doors for him. Since graduating in May, Mendoza has been busy interviewing for a few full-time positions at the company's headquarters in Portland.

"It's been nice to have the assurance that they want me at Adidas," he said. "I have no marketing experience. But through earning my psychology degree, I've learned so much about how people work. To translate that into marketing has not been that hard; it's actually given me a boost in how I view marketing."

Mendoza hasn't only learned how people think, he's also come to appreciate others more than ever. His second major, Bible & Theology, has helped him do that. "I love the layout of the program — that you get to go through the whole Bible in four years," he said. "And I appreciate the teaching. The professors are fantastic; they make it such a strong program, and they relate the Bible to real life."

erik_slider

A better and stronger person’

But it's the basketball team that's been the driving force in Mendoza's life these past four years.

"The team was the catalyst for me being at this school, learning what I've learned," he said. "It was always the one constant thing in my life."

Mendoza thrived while playing for the Lions. He served as team captain for three years. Basketball coach Curt Bickley puts a heavy emphasis on missions and community service; he's accompanied Mendoza and his team on mission trips to the Czech Republic and Taiwan. Mendoza has also volunteered, alongside his teammates, at Providence Children's Hospital for the past four years.

"All these things make the basketball team more than a basketball team," he said. "Coach Bickley is a fantastic role model. He creates men. He'll be blunt with you. But if you stick around, you'll come out a better and stronger person. He's one of the people here who has impacted me the most."

‘It’s been a good four years’

It was because of Bickley that Erik was nominated for the Pete Maravich Memorial Award.

"It never crossed my mind that I'd be nominated," Mendoza said. But Bickley had been impressed by Mendoza's growth during his time at MU, and he recommended him to the group of coaches that determines the award-winner.

The coaches voted for Mendoza.

When Bickley called him with the news, Mendoza was shocked. "I hadn't known I was even nominated until he called me and told me I'd won," he said. "I was pretty blown away."

The award seemed to come at the perfect time.

"I had been really anxious and scared about my basketball career ending, and I was trying to ignore it," he said. "It was bittersweet — but amazing — to see how God wrapped up my time here: The season came to an end, I made my last shot and then I found out about the award.

"I felt like it was God's way of saying, 'You've done a good job here, but it doesn't have to be sad. It's been a good four years, but it's time to move on to the next phase.'"

Check Out Our New D.Min. Track: Global Evangelism

We sat down with Dr. Derek Chinn, director of MU's Doctor of Ministry program, to find out more about the degree's latest track, global evangelism.

Space is still available, and classes start June 2. If you have questions about this track or want to register, contact Dr. Chinn by emailing dchinn@multnomah.edu or calling 503-251-6732.

What's the purpose of the global evangelism track?

Dr. Luis Palau

Dr. Luis Palau

This track is in line with Multnomah’s goal of equipping its students for global mission. The education our students receive is biblically-grounded and academically rigorous, and it deliberately integrates what's learned in the classroom with ministry that takes place in the real world.

How will the track prepare students for missional work?

The majority of the students are already evangelists. They are currently doing the very thing God has gifted them to do, and they will continue to evangelize to those who don’t know Jesus and train local congregations to share the Gospel.

Getting a D.Min. degree will give them the opportunity to study more in-depth the theological underpinnings of evangelism, learn about different strategies and methodologies for evangelism, develop a better understanding and appreciation for the work that builds and sustains evangelistic ministry, and learn from fellow evangelists serving in different contexts.

How is this track distinct from programs offered by other seminaries?

evangelism_tim

Dr. Tim Robnett

Students participate and study with instructors who are actively engaged in evangelism around the world. The faculty mentor, Dr. Tim Robnett, is president of Tim Robnett Ministries, and he actively trains and mentors evangelists, locally and internationally. International evangelist Dr. Luis Palau is the senior lecturer for this track and will participate in the instruction. Guest lecturers are respected educators and practitioners in evangelism.

How is the track enriching in terms of professional, spiritual and personal development?

Students will use their professional ministry skills in the church and for the community to equip believers in the ministry of evangelism. They are expected to nurture their personal relationship with God and mature in personal character. Participants in this track will have ample opportunity to reflect on and develop a process of adaptation and application of biblical principles in the area of evangelism.

What makes this program stand out?

The experience that Dr. Robnett and Dr. Palau bring to the classroom is outstanding, and I can't think of any program that brings these types of skills and experience to bear. Dr. Robnett’s deep understanding of how evangelists are gifted and wired significantly shapes how instruction will occur, what coursework is assigned, and what topics will be covered.

Want to find out more about Multnomah Biblical Seminary? Check out our seminary page