Annie Bell didn’t want to go to Multnomah. She had one good reason: her father had gone there. And although she was close to him, she wanted to be different.
Bell, who grew up in Auburn, Washington, earned her associate degree at a local community college. She was looking into universities when her dad encouraged her to visit MU. Bell was resistant, but decided to check it out. Her visit changed her mind completely.
“The Bible and Theology major was the first and foremost reason I chose to go here,” she says. “It’s what differentiates Multnomah from other universities. I knew I was going to be equipped to build on my Christian education and bring that knowledge into the workplace wherever I went.”
Her first week at MU was a flurry of excitement: new classes, new people, new surroundings. But Bell was struggling with something she hadn’t expected — her belief in God.
“I was on the coattails of my parents’ faith,” she says. “Being here challenged that. I was begged to ask myself the question, ‘Do I believe in God?’”
Bell was terrified as she wrestled with her doubts. She feared God wasn’t real. She worried what other people would think of her for questioning such a thing. One night, feeling particularly defeated, she slunk into the small prayer chapel on campus. She needed to know that God was real. That he saw her. That he cared about her.
Just as she was asking God to help her, another woman in the chapel walked to the piano resting on the stage. She began playing a beautiful melody. Immediately Bell could feel God’s presence wrap around her. It was just what she needed.
The women are best friends now, and Bell looks back at that night as the beginning of their vibrant relationship. “God used her,” she says. “She was the manifestation of his grace in my life — she accepted me and challenged me.”
Bell has not only built lasting relationships with her peers, but also with her teachers. One professor, Judy Glanz, is particularly close to her heart. “She met with me every week last year to pray with me,” Bell says. “People here love the Lord so much. They teach you how to accept that love, and how to give it to others.”
Bell has been inspired by the guidance she’s received at Multnomah. Her second major, educational ministries, continues to sharpen her leadership skills and prepare her to equip others with knowledge and truth. Her dream is to one day open a discipleship house — a haven where young women can be mentored and loved by devoted Christian women.
As graduation looms in the spring, Bell is savoring her time in Portland. When she’s not searching the city’s thriving food cart industry for the perfect order of Pad Thai, she’s writing poetry or hiking in the Columbia River Gorge — “God’s playground,” as she calls it — with her friends.
Several options are open to her after she leaves MU: graduate school, internships, full-time ministry. She hasn’t picked one yet, but she knows Multnomah has prepared her for her next step.
“It became clear to me while I was at MU that you’re a caged bird until you find freedom in the Lord,” she says. “People think it’s the opposite — that Christianity is rules-based and legalistic, but it’s not. Once you realize that disconnectedness from God is keeping you trapped, you can open the cage and fly. A free bird has the world at its wings.”