Students

MU alumni, missionaries impact students during recent visit

Comments Off Written on November 2nd, 2015 by
Categories: Alumni, Missions, Students

Dan (’97) and Janell (’00) Hartley have a desire to transform lives. For the past 10 years, they have been sharing the gospel as missionaries in Southern Africa. During a recent trip to their alma mater, the couple brought their passion for the gospel to Dr. Karen Fancher’s Pressing Global Issues class.

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“As alumni, our hearts are connected to Multnomah,” says Janell. “We hope that our stories — the chapters we have done well and the chapters we have learned from — will be a blessing and ignite a passion for doing missions.”

Youth ministry major Miguel Ruiz’s attention was undivided during their presentation. Hearing their stories and well-spoken wisdom unexpectedly awakened something in his heart. “My plan was to be a soccer coach, and now…” the freshman trails off, shaking his head and chuckling at his sudden change of heart. “I think God is putting me somewhere else.”

The Hartley’s vision and devotion acted as a catalyst within Ruiz — he now finds himself lying awake at night, thinking about his potential new path. Although he’s unsure of the future, he’s confident in God’s plan for his life. “It’s His will, not mine,” he says.

Making it clear that their work as missionaries isn’t always easy, the Hartleys were honest about past struggles with self-doubt and self-identity. “I needed to understand not just who I am in Christ, but whose I am,” says Dan.

It’s not by chance that past failures often hinder our mission and vision, especially when you’re working for the Lord. “We have a target on our backs, and that doesn’t go away just because we step into ministry,” he says.

But hardship can be overcome by choosing to rely on God for strength, not on ourselves. Janell advised students to come to the Lord with questions as a way to overcome self-reliance.

“When I wake up I pray, ‘Good morning, Lord. What do you want me to accomplish?’” she says. “Learn what his heart is.”

The students attentively soaked up their advice for navigating the ebb and flow of challenges that missionaries often encounter. In closing, the Hartleys offered a way to react to those challenges: “We stopped asking, ‘Why?’ and asked God, ‘What are you doing, and how can we be a part of it?’”

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Visit the Hartleys’ website at www.magezi.org if you’d like information about their vision to share the gospel with unreached people groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. Contact Janell to request email updates or newsletters at janell@magezi.org. Most importantly, remember to keep them in your prayers.

MAC students launch advocacy project, help transitioning foster children

Students in the MAC program’s Spiritual Integration and Social Concern class are living what they’re learning. The soon-to-be counselors recently completed an advocacy project on behalf of Oregon foster kids.

It began with Professor Chris Cleaver’s desire to create an opportunity for his students to experience real advocacy, an adventure that would take them outside of their lectures and textbooks.

“I’m trying to communicate the role of counselors, the role of advocacy, and then have my students practice those skills,” he says. “Why not actually make someone’s life better while we’re  learning how to make someone’s life better?”

Once the students collaborated on the project, they chose to serve foster kids. With only weeks to make a difference, they quickly identified a need that continuously popped up during their research: Although there are many resources for young adults phasing out of the foster care system into independence, many of these resources are outdated or inaccessible.

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“Foster kids can stay in the system up until they’re 23 if they go to college,” says Cleaver. But many have no idea this is an option. “Having current resources and knowing how to take advantage of all those resources can help foster kids avoid pitfalls,” he says.

The students set out to change that by creating multiple brochures with updated information helpful to foster kids moving out of the system. Then they passed them around to various agencies in Multnomah County.

MAC student Sarah Kumm was thrilled to be fulfilling this need with her classmates, and she was encouraged by the feedback they received from social workers. “Everyone I talked to said new resources are huge on their hearts,” she says. “Foster agencies do an amazing job, but they just don’t have time to improve all their resources.”

The project became more than just a grade or a deadline once the students saw how much their effort benefited the kids. “It reminds me of how much is going on in the world and the services that are needed,” says Kumm. “Culturally, we became more sensitive to people we were unfamiliar with. Listening and being there and supporting is what God has called us to do.”

Cleaver agrees. “I very much believe that Jesus is an advocate, and we as Christians are following him in that advocacy.”

Dr. Metzger introduces latest book, announces public reading at Powell’s

Comments Off Written on October 8th, 2015 by
Categories: Books, Seminary, Students, Theology

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger — Professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture and Director of New Wine, New Wineskins — has released his latest book, “Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend” (Patheos Press, August 2015). The work features Metzger’s late friend, Zen Buddhist Priest Kyogen Carlson, who wrote the foreword and responded to Metzger’s essays.

A book reading for “Evangelical Zen” is set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at Powell’s City of Books. The event will include readings from Metzger and Sallie (Jiko) Tisdale, who will be reading one or two reflections from Abbot Kyogen Carlson’s contributions in the volume.

Until then, Metzger answers our questions about “Evangelical Zen” and the unique vision behind it.

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Can you give us a brief synopsis of the book?

“Evangelical Zen” is part Augustine’s “Confessions” and part Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” As an Evangelical Christian theologian, I reflect on my spiritual journey — an inner pilgrimage of sorts that weaves through a physical 40-day journey with my family in Japan.

The experiences of that journey, the beauties of Japan, its culture, and its religion become for me a lens on a deeper quest: I am searching for and, I believe, finding a global humanity in conversation with my friend and literary traveling companion, Abbot Kyogen Carlson, a Zen Buddhist Priest.

Can you define what you mean by “spiritual travels”?

Our travels through life as Christians are ultimately spiritual, not secular. We should never compartmentalize our faith, even in seemingly secular and pluralistic cultural settings.

Moreover, our faith is not static. While our eternal destination as Christians is secure through personal faith in Jesus Christ, our faith is an ongoing journey. Thus, our encounters with various people, places and things in life can serve as sign posts of faith as we seek to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves.

What compelled you to write this book?

I felt compelled to write this book because my spiritual journey has taken me to Japan over the years through marriage to my wife Mariko, a Japanese national. Our children Christopher and Julianne have joined us on that journey. I have come to deeply love Japanese culture. Through my experiences in Japan, I have come to love Jesus more while also loving people across the globe. My travels there have helped me in my endeavors to become more sensitive to people of various cultures here and abroad.

Such growth here has been enhanced through my friendship over the years with Zen Buddhist Priest, Kyogen Carlson, who founded Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland with his fellow abbot and spouse, Gyokuko. Since we first met in 2003, and until his sudden passing from a massive heart attack in September 2014, Kyogen and I developed a deep, abiding friendship. He agreed to write responses to the various essays, as well as a foreword to the whole book. For all our theological and philosophical differences from one another revealed in the book, Kyogen’s thoughts complete mine in this volume as we seek to understand life and humanity better.

How might reading this book be beneficial for a Christ-follower?

Evangelical Zen will help Christians navigate life and our increasingly diverse and multi-faith culture in such a manner that we can love God through Jesus more without having to love our diverse neighbors less. In fact, I believe our Christian faith, if cultivated well, makes it possible for us to love people of diverse paths better and with more sensitivity here and abroad.

Why is it important to build friendships with people of other religions?

I believe God’s love has been on display over the years with my Buddhist friends here in Portland, as my students and other Christians have joined the Carlsons, Dharma Rain Zen Center parishioners, and me for potluck meals and dialogues where we discuss key aspects of our respective faiths, including what divides us. We don’t sweep our differences under the table, nor do we stop short of engaging one another relationally. Instead, we go through our differences to build bridges of authentic trust that bind us together in the midst of culture wars that could easily divide us.

My students value such opportunities to engage people of diverse faiths. After all, they also live in an increasingly religiously diverse society. Like all of us, they need to learn how to engage their multi-faith society well in grace and truth. Their neighborhoods, the marketplace and ministry contexts (such as in the various spheres of chaplaincy and pastoral visitation) require that they become sensitive and adept at presenting biblical truth in a truly meaningful and gracious way. As our former MU president Dr. Joe Aldrich used to say, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  That is equally true here in the States, Japan, and anywhere else in the world.

Students experience the power of service, prayer

The sky was blue and full of sunshine on September 29 as the busyness of the day unfolded. On Multnomah’s campus, about 30 graduate and seminary students were gathering for Day of Prayer. Off campus, 150 undergraduate students were serving the neighboring community for Day of Outreach.

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'A great connector'

Once every fall and spring, undergraduate students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit, a community center, a school. Even a MAX station. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

The commuters waiting to ride the nearby MAX Light Rail brightened up as Multnomah students offered them steaming cups of coffee and fresh donuts. Freshman Megan Flikkema loved the opportunity to brush shoulders with people she wouldn’t normally meet.

“It’s a great connector,” she said. “It’s an easy way to pass out breakfast and talk about Jesus.” Flikkema was right: Many students took time to engage in meaningful conversations with people they encountered, listening intently to their life stories.

Summit student Trevor Grant saw Day of Outreach as a way to respond: “In the last three months, I’ve really been convicted about how much we’re called to help out in the community,” said the freshman. “So [Day of Outreach] is good timing.”

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'Faith without works is nothing'

Not far down the road from the MAX station, another group of students wandered through the Montavilla neighborhood, praying for their neighbors while they searched for trash littering the yards, gutters and sidewalks. Although a seemingly small act, the residents responded positively. One man even hollered his sincere thanks from his car before turning onto the busy street.

“It’s important, especially at Multnomah, to get out into the community,” said Brittany Bowling, a business and organizational psychology major.

Hebrew major Darren Warren stuffed some litter from the street gutter into a large plastic bag. “Faith without works is nothing,” said the freshman. “Being the hands and feet of God is precisely what God is all about.” You could tell Warren meant every word — he looked eager to support the event’s mission.

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'God weaves our stories'

Back on campus, graduate and seminary students were gathered together for a morning of prayer and fellowship. Daytime classes were cancelled so students could step back from studies and set aside time dedicated to seeking God. The quaint and quiet prayer chapel proved to be the perfect setting for the event.

Master of Divinity student Aimee Pahl was the organizer for Day of Prayer. She was deeply encouraged by what took place during the prayer time, and was especially impressed by students’ vulnerability as they lifted each other’s requests to the Lord. “[God] weaves our stories so that we understand each other, especially when we’re praying for one another,” she said.

The three-hour prayer session brought Kā‘ili Wells some much needed peace. “I just needed to reconnect with God,” said the seminary student. “I needed worshipful, prayerful rest.” Wells also mentioned the importance of creating a time and a place for seminary and graduate students to come together; with their schedules, it can be easy for them to become exclusive.

Although there has been a lot going on in Wells' life, he left Day of Prayer feeling refreshed. “It’s funny, because I’m tired,” he said, chuckling. “But I also feel rejuvenated.” The power of prayer does some amazing things.

Watch the 2015 All College Retreat video

Comments Off Written on September 15th, 2015 by
Categories: Events, Students

Every fall, MU students kick off the semester with a weekend getaway at Washington Family Ranch. The retreat is a perfect opportunity to glean wisdom from a medley of speakers, make new friends, and jump start the school year with a whole lot of fun. A big thanks to our Student Life team, who were instrumental in making this retreat a wonderful experience for everyone involved!

Different dreams, one purpose: Students from all over the world join MU

Students with different dreams and goals arrived on campus last week. Some had included MU in their plans for years, while others made last-minute decisions to attend. But regardless of their backgrounds, all of our new students desire a higher purpose in their careers. They look to their faith to infuse meaning in all they do.

Student2015aMiguel Ruiz traveled all the way from his hometown in Mexico to experience MU. “I basically came to follow my dream,” he says. “I want to have a sports ministry. I have played soccer my whole life, and I want to go back to Mexico and share the gospel there through soccer.” The youth ministry major is convinced MU is the perfect place to pursue his ambitions. He says he wants to learn everything he can while he’s here.

Student2015cAzaria Coakley is eager to interact with people on campus and learn their stories. “I think we have a small enough school where I can learn about everyone I graduate with,” she says.  The business major from Vancouver, Wash., wasn’t sold on MU at first, but she quickly changed her mind when she took a second look. “I love Multnomah already, and I’ve only been here two days,” she says. “I want to learn what my place is, and I feel this is the best place to do that.”

Student2015bIn terms of the campus environment, Monica Paterson found exactly what she was looking for at Multnomah. “I wanted to be submerged in a Christian atmosphere,” she says. “No matter where I am on campus, I want to be able to talk to someone about Jesus or ask, ‘Do you mind praying for me?’ I wanted to be in a place where these conversations were common.” The global studies major from Vinton City, Ohio, visited several other Christian colleges, but they weren’t quite right. “I loved the opportunities they offered, but I knew they weren’t my blessing – Multnomah was,” she says.

We welcome you, new students. Our prayerful desire is that you will become equipped to engage our culture with courage and compassion while committing yourself to serving Jesus with your career. Have a great school year!

The best days are ahead

“Now Moses was 80 years old, and Aaron 83 years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.”
Exodus 7:7

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Dear Multnomah family,

The significance of this simple verse is often overlooked. Moses had been through a lot up until this point in his life. But at 80 years old, he was just getting started! The exodus from Egypt, the wilderness wanderings and the Promised Land awaited him. But first he must risk everything and stand before Pharaoh.

As Multnomah nears its 80th anniversary, Moses’ story reminds us that some of our best days are yet ahead of us. And just as Moses had Aaron by his side, we have the MU family — alumni, friends, staff, faculty and students. Aaron gave Moses confidence and courage. The MU family strengthens us every day with love, support, prayers and service.

MU is entering a new chapter as we expand our degree programs, sports and online offerings (check out multnomah.edu/new for more details). We move forward deeply committed to prayer, outreach and the Bible, living out our mission in a way that’s relevant in today’s world. Just as we started in 1936 as a response to what the Pacific Northwest needed then — we respond today to what the world needs now.

This intentional response has brought about some exciting changes:

The business program’s growth is certainly a reply to the world’s clamor for more business graduates. But in a culture obsessed with money and power, business leaders who are ethical, fair and conscientious are needed more than ever.

That’s where our graduates come in. One of them, Dave Munson ’96, is accepting our Alumnus of the Year Award later this month. Even though Munson graduated long before our business major was around, MU equipped him with the foundation he needed to launch Saddleback Leather Company, his thriving business that crafts high-quality luggage, wallets, backpacks and more.

“Even if I knew the path of my life back then…even if I knew that one day I’d own Saddleback, I would go to Multnomah again,” says the CEO. “It was instilled in all of us there to be honest. There was a constant pounding on the drum for integrity.”
Munson hasn’t only applied those principles to his personal life — he’s built his entire business around them. Saddleback is committed to investing in its employees and cultivating a sustainable work environment for them. Read Munson’s full story.

Support from our Multnomah family helped Dave go into the world and make a difference. It prepares our graduates for careers in service to Jesus. And it sustains our mission: helping students become spiritually-formed and culturally-engaged servant leaders. Thank you for standing with us over the years like Aaron beside Moses! Will you boldly move forward with us and participate in an inspiring opportunity?

A wonderful friend of Multnomah has chosen to match — dollar for dollar — every gift* from MU alumni who have never given to MU or have lapsed in their giving. This friend will also match every gift from current givers that goes above what they gave last year. For instance, if you gave $1,200 last year and give $1,500 this year, the friend will match the $300 increase in your giving. Here is the really exciting part: This friend has committed up to $500,000 to MU!

Would you consider partnering with MU in response to this wonderful opportunity? Think about it: If every one of our alumni gave $80 in honor of our 80th year, we could meet the matching gift of $500,000 and launch more graduates like Dave Munson.

Please prayerfully give according to your ability. No gift is too small. To participate with your gift, fill out our gift form.

Your prayers, service and offerings strengthen Multnomah’s impact every day. Stand with us, like Aaron with Moses. Imagine all God has in store for us!

Craig

Rev. G. Craig Williford, Ph.D.
President

*All gifts must be received by June 30, 2016.

Watch our new global studies major video

The global studies program equips students for a deep commitment to understanding and engaging in the global issues affecting our world today.

"You don't have to wait to put things into practice...this program connects you with people working in cross-cultural settings right now," says global studies major Kevin Perry. "It's all about understanding other peoples' worldviews and understanding how I can love them better through understanding their cultural context."

Watch our latest elementary education major video

Elementary Education graduates are licensed to teach K-8 and equipped to integrate biblical principles into their lesson plans. “It’s a rigorous program,” says Elementary Education major Natalie Ruttger. “[The professors] prepare you for everything, and they’re very current on what’s happening in schools right now.”

CEO of Saddleback Leather Co. Dave Munson chosen for 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award

PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah University is proud to announce the recipient of the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award: Dave Munson, CEO of Saddleback Leather Company.

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Munson began attending MU in 1992 after a mission trip inspired him to study the Bible like never before. “I wanted to do ministry the rest of my life, so I knew I needed more education,” he says. “I came to Multnomah because I was trying to be obedient.”

After graduating with a degree in Bible and Theology, Munson moved to Mexico and began teaching English. He looked everywhere for the perfect carry-on to hold his school books, but nothing fit his criteria. That’s when he collaborated with a local craftsman to design his first leather bag.

When the bag started receiving multiple compliments a day, a lightbulb turned on in Munson’s head. He scrimped and saved for more bags and then sold them — first out of his Land Cruiser, then via eBay, and now through Saddleback Leather Company, his thriving business that crafts high-quality luggage, wallets, backpacks and more.

“Even if I knew the path of my life back then…even if I knew that one day I’d own Saddleback, I would go to Multnomah again,” says Munson. “It was instilled in all of us there to be honest. There was a constant pounding on the drum for integrity.”

Munson hasn’t only applied those principles to his personal life — he’s built his entire business around them. Saddleback is committed to investing in its employees and cultivating a sustainable work environment for them. This fall, the company’s factory in Mexico will start providing free day care and school for employees’ children. Factory workers can also enroll in complimentary parenting classes, marriage seminars, counseling sessions and English courses.

Saddleback also shows its English teachers how they can respectfully share the gospel with employees. So far this year, 104 people have accepted Jesus in Munson’s factory. “This is not a business created for just financial motives,” he says. “If God had a factory, we think this is how he would run it.”

Michelle Underwood, Multnomah’s director of alumni relations, says Munson’s heart for serving his employees is one of the reasons he was selected as this year’s award recipient. “Dave is a graduate who has not only distinguished himself as a business owner, but has also demonstrated that his business is a ministry to his employees and customers,” she says. “His passion, drive, humility and generosity make him a wonderful selection for the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.”

Munson will be honored with the Alumnus of the Year award at 10 a.m. on September 7, 2015. All staff, faculty and students are welcome to attend the celebration. During the event, Munson will share more about his personal journey and business model.