Jody Bormuth is a mother, grandmother, wife and college professor in the rugged mountain town of Grants Pass, Oregon. Over the years she has welcomed struggling teens into her home, mentored young women, taught Bible studies and developed a class on gender issues.
But just because Bormuth has been involved in Christian service for over 40 years doesn’t mean that she has left learning behind. “I love academics in the first place, and so learning anything is exciting to me,” she says. That’s why she decided to enroll in MU’s Doctor of Ministry program with a focus in cross-cultural engagement.
A heart for Hawaiians
For Kunāne Hillen, moving to Portland, Oregon, was a big change. “My first thoughts were, ‘It’s cold!’” he says. He was firmly attached to the sunshine, warm ocean waves, beaches and culture of his hometown—Honolulu, Hawaii. He’d never spent more than three weeks away. And yet he knew that, despite the climate change, Multnomah University had what he wanted for a Master of Divinity.
Body surfing, ukulele, church friends and family were the main factors in Hillen’s life throughout his childhood. During his senior year in high school, Hillen took a Hawaiian history class that made him realize how much he loved his own people.
“After watching a film about Hawaiians, my heart broke,” he says. “I originally wanted to do intercultural missions, but then I got a heart for Hawaiians.”
“Isn’t that a guy’s thing?” Tawny Johnson had just told someone she was going to seminary to get her Master’s in Theological Studies, 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.
Following the call
Regina Molokomme came all the way from South Africa to follow the call of God. “When God calls you, he calls you as you are,” she says. “When he calls you, know that he provides. God opened the door for me to take up my calling, and that’s how I came to MU.” She decided an MA in Christian Leadership was what God had for her.
Before 2002, Molokomme would have had a different response to God’s call. She was content with her teaching career, and she never guessed that things would change. But when the AIDS epidemic struck her own household, she didn’t know how to react. Both her parents died from the disease. Her brother was poisoned and died in his sleep. “I had three deaths in three successive years,” she says. “That was a turning point in my spiritual life.” Although she was shaken, Molokomme began educating herself on a solution for AIDS.
When Emil Khooda started to mature as a believer, he realized he needed to be in full-time ministry. He started analyzing his spiritual gifts, trying to match profession with personality. Chaplaincy struck a chord. “It totally aligned with who I am,” he says.
With a goal before him, Khooda began looking at seminaries. That’s when a friend mentioned Multnomah. “He said MU was highly respected and had out-of-the-box thinking,” he says. “He also told me the seminary offered a Master of Divinity degree and a cultural engagement program.”
Finding a balance
I’m too old. I don’t like school. It’s too much money. Geneva Arnold thought up several excuses when she felt a pull toward seminary. “I’d had no vision for nine months,” she says. “But one day I was praying, and God told me to get a ministerial degree.”
Arnold was appalled. She came up with every reason not to go. Finally, thinking she’d found a way out, she decided to cut a deal. “I told God, ‘If you want me to go, then my husband has to be on board,’” she says. But when she told him, he surprised her. “Of course,” he said. “What else would you do?” And that was that. Arnold was going to seminary.
Striving to serve
Ruben Alvarado remembers when he told God “no.” The native Californian had been feeling a pull toward seminary and a Master of Divinity, but he couldn’t bring himself to enroll. Higher education would demand countless hours of studying and class time, and Alvarado couldn’t imagine fitting the obligation into life with his wife and son.
“I told God I couldn’t do it with my family,” he said. But he still felt God calling him. Half-heartedly, he began visiting seminaries. One in particular stood out to him. “Multnomah was the friendliest and the most inviting to families,” he says.
Vibrant life, open doors
“I knew I needed more training. I wanted to learn. But when I cracked a wry grin and asked the dean if full-time seminary was even realistic for a married, working guy, I was already pretty convinced that it was not,” says Ben Tertin. “He told me about the rigors of upper-level graduate studies, and he asked me questions about my life at the time and where I hoped to end up.”
Ben grew up in the Midwest and had never set foot in Oregon until he moved here to study Bible. Entering into Multnomah Biblical Seminary, he had no clear picture or plan for his future path. But his bachelor’s degree and limited ministry experience was restricting him to only a few, low-level options. In conversation with others, Multnomah’s seminary kept coming up. From these conversations he decided to try out the Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees.