‘The fruit of the Spirit in the classroom’: MAT student Sarah Murrell infuses teaching with faith

Comments Off on ‘The fruit of the Spirit in the classroom’: MAT student Sarah Murrell infuses teaching with faith Written on January 27th, 2016 by
Categories: Programs, Students

Ever since Sarah Murrell can remember, teaching has been an integral part of her life. Whether she’s bonding with preschoolers in a neighborhood school or tutoring students in reading, she knows she has a passion for cultivating knowledge in the classroom. “God continues to put me in opportunities to teach and has affirmed me in those places,” she says.

sittingv02The path into Multnomah’s Master of Arts in Teaching program has been a smooth one for Murrell. She received her B.A. in TESOL from MU and spent some time teaching at a school in India for her practicum. But she still had her eyes on graduate school.

“I looked at lots of other schools but was impressed with the quality of MU’s teaching,” Murrell says. “I also worked with an MAT student who had great classroom skills and spoke highly of the program.”

So Murrell jumped right in. “The program is small, but they have their act together,” she says. “Our professors have been top-quality; no class has been a waste, and each one has equipped me for what I need, and more.”

Opportunities for putting learning into action are everywhere. Last year Murrell worked as a reading tutor for a rural school in the area. “I attended MU classes on Tuesday night and was able to try out what I learned on Wednesday morning with the kids,” she says.

Now Murrell is doing student teaching in a multi-ethnic urban school, and though the atmosphere is totally different, she is able to apply the same principles. “It is always amazing to see kids grow as readers; to get them excited about learning,” she says. “I love to see kids feeling good about themselves.”

Teaching in a public school requires a different approach.  “I want the kids to learn how to reflect God’s image in creative and unique ways,” Murrell says. “I want to be the kind of teacher who pours forth the fruit of the Spirit into her classroom, but I can’t be that consistent teacher unless I prioritize a close relationship with God. That is what’s best for my students.”

Murrell is thrilled to learn how to love each child in her class. “At the end of the day I’m relying on God to give me his heart for the kids,” she says. “In order to produce anything good, I need to depend on him.”

A heart for Hawaii: M.Div. student Kunāne Hillen connects theology to his native culture

Comments Off on A heart for Hawaii: M.Div. student Kunāne Hillen connects theology to his native culture Written on January 25th, 2016 by
Categories: Seminary, Students, Theology

Kunane_H_2v02For 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 an M.Div.

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.”

Hillen attended Bible college on the island and earned his bachelor’s degree in Bible and Pastoral Ministry. He then began to wonder what was next. “I was looking for a school that would help relate Hawaiian culture to theology,” he says.

Multnomah brought those components together for him. “MU is really helping me process my theology,” Hillen says. “I get to tie Hawaii into my papers and discussions in class. I want to learn what the gospel means, not only in the Hawaiian community but also in the global indigenous community.”


Hillen also appreciates his professors. “They are very personal,” he says. “They are willing to meet outside of class. They encourage me to talk. They don’t just teach to blank faces; they’re engaging.”

When Hillen returns to the islands, he’s excited to teach the integration of theology and culture to his fellow Hawaiians. And he’s especially eager to get back to his own warm beach. “I dream of the waves sometimes,” he says wistfully.

Lions team up with Tim Tebow Foundation, local church for Night to Shine

Comments Off on Lions team up with Tim Tebow Foundation, local church for Night to Shine Written on January 6th, 2016 by
Categories: Athletics, Events, Students

The MU women’s basketball team is used to collaborating on the court. But since their recent partnership with Central Bible Church and the Tim Tebow Foundation, the Lions are unifying to present Night to Shine, an unforgettable prom experience for people with special needs.

More than 100 churches around the world were chosen to simultaneously host Night to Shine events Friday, February 12, 2016. Central Bible was one of three churches in Oregon selected for the honor.

“This is so exciting because it’s such a unique chance to serve our community,” says Tim Bieri, who coaches women’s basketball at MU. “We’re honored to be part of shining Christ’s light in this way.”

As sponsor of Night to Shine, the Tim Tebow Foundation will provide each host church with an instruction manual, financial support, individualized staff guidance, and a prom kit complete with decorations and gifts for attendees.


On the big night, guests will enter the church on a red carpet while friendly paparazzi snap photos. Inside, volunteers will provide VIP treatment: hair, makeup and corsages for the girls, and shoe shining and boutonnieres for the boys. Karaoke and dancing will round out the evening. During the crowning ceremony, every attendee will be declared prom king or prom queen.

But something more than the glittery tiaras, shimmery dresses and spiffy shoes will shine on that night. God’s love will be gleaming, reflected by the many volunteers who have poured their hearts into this special event.

During Night to Shine 2015, 44 host churches and 15,000 volunteers worked together to honor more than 7,000 people with special needs. This year, host churches worldwide are expected to serve more than 20,000 prom kings and queens. At Central Bible Church, a minimum of 100 volunteers will work with more than 75 guests.


A production of this size will require some dedicated workers. Fortunately, the basketball team is no stranger to commitment. The Lions are wholly responsible for planning and organizing the event, which includes coordinating vendors, sending invitations and reminders, managing volunteers and donations, and setting up and tearing down decorations.

Even though their lives are brimming with basketball, school and jobs, the women are enthusiastic to tackle this new mission. “It’s a challenge for us as a team,” says sophomore Michaela Weller. “But it’s pushing us out of our comfort zone, and that’s important. It’s a blessing to be a part of God’s work in this.”

Valerie Wakefield agrees. “It’s a great opportunity to work with Central Bible and other churches in the area,” says the sophomore. “One of my favorite things is seeing so many people come together as the body of Christ.”

The Lions didn’t make it to the playoffs this year, so they’ve deemed Night to Shine their championship game. For Nicole Verrett, the prom is a more impactful opportunity in comparison. “It’s something that will last,” says the senior. “I think (the guests) will know that people care about them and want to serve them.”

If you want to volunteer for Night to Shine, contact Tim Bieri at 503.251.6463 or

Husband and wife team tackle Degree Completion Program together

Comments Off on Husband and wife team tackle Degree Completion Program together Written on December 18th, 2015 by
Categories: Students

Married life and bachelor’s degrees don’t always go hand in hand, but thanks to Multnomah’s DCP program, the two can be united.


Christian and Katie Rector met at middle school church camp and started dating their junior year of high school. “We chose to get married young, knowing that it wasn’t a popular decision in our community,” says Katie. “We felt a responsibility to finish school and not just have half-completed degrees. The DCP program sort of fell into our laps and made it possible for us to graduate together, which is an unbelievable gift.”

Katie had attended MU for several undergrad classes, and Christian had popped in to visit a few times. “I was impressed with the culture on campus,” he says, “And when we took our youth group to Multnomah’s annual Spring Thaw, I came home after the weekend and said, ‘I want to go here.’”


It took the couple a year before they realized that it was time to return to school. By then they both had full-time jobs, were youth leaders at their church, and had their own household to run. Thankfully, the DCP program is suited for busy schedules. Christian enrolled in the Business & Ethics program, and Katie in Leadership & Ministry. “The one-night-a-week format is helpful, but we have to carefully manage our time outside of those four-hour blocks,” says Christian. “This program grinds intentionality into you.”

Intentional community, in addition to intentional study time, is vital to DCP life. “The cohort is a cool dynamic,” says Christian. “When you join, you join a community. It’s about knowing people more deeply and walking with them through having babies, job changes, etc.” Caramel corn competitions are also an essential component, according to Katie and her cohort.

standingKatie is especially pleased to find that her favorite professors are involved in the DCP program. “The cream of the crop is on board and willing to participate in this program with us,” she says.

And it is not only their words, but also their actions which have made an impact on her. “One evening my professor stopped class to pray for a woman who was in the midst of a deep struggle,” she says. “Through this he showed me his heart in caring for her.”

The combination of Bible and career preparation has been important to Christian. “In class, we have been focusing on bringing the gospel to the workplace: first, through an effective business, and second, as an official messenger of Christ,” he says. “It’s the perfect ‘marriage’ of the two.”

This combination has taught Katie how to worship even in the mundane. “The Lord has showed me that work and study is my ministry right now,” she says. “Even being a wife and doing chores at home is under God’s umbrella; it’s his work, and I get to be a part of it.”

Christian and Katie don’t have solid plans for after graduation, but they look forward to taking a deep breath and starting to think about a house, kids, and maybe even graduate school. “Busyness is a season, and finishing well is the goal,” says Katie.

South African Regina Molokomme prepares to impact world leaders

Comments Off on South African Regina Molokomme prepares to impact world leaders Written on December 18th, 2015 by
Categories: Students

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.”

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. Then 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 used her suffering to propel her forward: She began educating herself on a solution for AIDS. Molokomme connected with an organization for religious leaders dealing with the effects of HIV/AIDS and dedicated her time to prayer meetings, travel and support visits to marginalized communities. In 2008, her efforts received recognition from the United Nations, and she was given the Red Ribbon Award.

“I was put on a platform where my voice could be heard and I could listen to other nations and have a voice in the world,” she says. “For the first time, I saw God in everything.”

When Molokomme realized how God was directing her life, she began to consider going into ministry. A friend and MU alum visited South Africa and told her about Multnomah and its unique history of prayer. Molokomme remembers thinking, “God, this is where I belong.” Her visit to campus was confirmation. “God is here, and prayers get answered here,” she says. “I knew there was something about this place.”

Regina2But the call of God isn’t an overnight thing. It was three years until God made it possible for Molokomme to come to Multnomah. “God dealt with and equipped and prepared and tested me until finally I knew that my doors were opened,” she says.

Molokomme settled into the rhythm of her studies at Multnomah and graduated with an MA in Christian Leadership in December 2015. She deeply appreciated the challenging courses and inviting community.

“The classes can impact heavily,” she says. “There is also a lot of commitment to serving God. There is a bubbling, exciting explosion of the Spirit of God at work.”

She is also involved with Women of Purpose, a local group of ethnically diverse women who meet on MU’s campus every week. Together the women support each other in prayer and share how God is using them for impact and purpose in Portland and beyond.

“I’ve always been a world-changer who is passionate about influencing nations,” she says. “I have learned to never fear or idolize people — even presidents and important people.”

Molokomme is convinced that God has prepared her to minister to world leaders, and she’s eager to see how her studies at MU will relate to her work with the UN.“I will wait and see where God wants me to go,” she says. “If he says to go back home, I will go.”

Although she’s not certain what her future holds, Molokomme is confident that she leaves MU prepared and made ready to serve. “I can’t come here and leave as the same Regina,” she says. “You come out of this place as a leader.”

‘Walking in God’s purpose’: MU graduates share their stories

Comments Off on ‘Walking in God’s purpose’: MU graduates share their stories Written on December 15th, 2015 by
Categories: Students

Last Friday, 61 Multnomah students walked across the stage of Central Bible Church to receive their diplomas. Among the group of participants were Sheri McCoy, Ian Domaschofsky, Sadie Walker, Brenna Coy and Nate Holm — five students who display the quality of character and commitment to Christ that set our alumni apart.

Sheri McCoy

Portland, Oregon

Master of Arts in Counseling

Best MU experience
The professors have been approachable, and I never felt ostracized, uncared for, or unnoticed.

In one of my counseling classes, we were asked to be candid and share our own stories while we practiced being clients and counselors. Some people cried as they talked, but no one was judged. I realized that this was a safe place to be vulnerable.

Favorite class
Group Supervision with Bryan Warren

Favorite thing about MU
Seeing everyone celebrate God together while also celebrating our own differences.

Favorite thing about Portland
The culture of different races and ethnicities; there is no “them verses us” mentality.

Plans after graduation 
To work as a mental health counselor with the addictions population. My purpose is to help people achieve their purpose.

How MU has impacted your spiritual journey
MU has shown compassion, love, and acceptance; they accept everyone and don’t judge — they love you. I have felt loved here.

A theme in your life 
Walking in God’s purpose for my life.

Advice to first-year self:
Stay focused and accomplish the goal.


Ian Domaschofsky

Dallas, Ore.

Master of Arts in Theological Studies

Best MU experience
I’ve had many paradigm shifts which have changed the trajectory of mine and my wife’s life. Paradigm shifts come along with this education.

Favorite class 
Incarnation Seminar with Dr. Robertson, which was about understanding the formation of Christological thought in the first centuries.

Favorite thing about MU
It’s a safe place for Christian men and women to engage with ways of thinking they would otherwise not be exposed to. I’ve never felt limited at MU.

Favorite thing about Portland
The food. I love the fusion of hip restaurants which are organic and local.

Plans after graduation
My family and I will be moving to Crete to run a youth hostel for at least a year. We’ll be living on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I also plan to get my Ph.D. in Early Christian Thought at some point.

How MU has impacted your spiritual journey
I’ve learned to see God as “wholly other” and to understand the richness of theological doctrine passed down through tradition. God is both intricate and simple at the same time; no matter what point you’re at, there are moments of awe.

A theme in your life
Consistency — in education, marriage, fatherhood.

Advice to first-year self
It’s all a process. Enjoy the ride.


Sadie Walker

North Bend, Ore.

Bachelor of Arts in Leadership in Ministry (Degree Completion Program)

Best MU experience
Support from the Scruggs community! From last-minute childcare to a roll of toilet paper to praying for each other.

Favorite class
Counseling — learning how to come alongside people to help them without trying to fix them

Favorite thing about MU
Staff and faculty care about students. It’s not about money and just pushing them through.

Favorite thing about Portland
So many close outdoor activities!

Plans after graduation
I’ve already started my Master of Arts in Global Development & Justice. I want to work with children and families and community development.

How MU has impacted your spiritual journey
God has helped me to reach out to people instead of being anti-social. He’s helped me to focus in on where he wants me to be and how he wants me to work.

A theme in your life
Learning to help people — different ways to do that.

Advice to first-year self
Stop procrastinating!


Brenna Coy

Longview, Wash.

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Best MU experience
During my first semesters, we would take a group down to the river to worship together. We built a fire and spent hours talking, joking and singing. This brought us closer together as friends and solidified for me that I was where I was supposed to be.

Favorite class
Hebrews-Revelation with Ray Lubeck. It was a high-impact, life-changing class. Through group projects we challenged each other and dug deeper into the text.

Favorite thing about MU
The community — professors, students and friends. It’s been a community where I’ve been the most accepted and able to be myself. It’s helped me grow.

Favorite thing about Portland
Food and coffee! My favorite spots are Good Coffee and Cafe Broder.

Plans after graduation
I would love to do art therapy someday. But for now I will be working possibly as an academic/admissions counselor in the Portland area. I will also get my master’s eventually.

How MU has impacted your spiritual journey
God has grown and shaped me during this time. My Bible and theology classes have given me more questions about who God is in a way that makes me never want to stop learning. I’ve grown in confidence in the Spirit and what I’m capable of. God’s shaped me to know what I believe and to wear it proudly. My family and friends have noticed a transformation.

A theme in your life
Seek first the Kingdom in all things.

Advice to first-year self
Take a wide spread of classes. Be open to learning new things — even things you think you know.


Nate Holm

Colton, Ore.

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Best MU experience
I broke my cane last week, and a group of students bought me a new one. It’s amazing the love that the student body has showed: opening doors and helping in different ways.

Favorite class
Abnormal Psychology with Jim Velez. I appreciated the way he presented material and combined it with Scripture in defining what is normal and abnormal.

Favorite thing about Portland 
Nothing. I don’t fit here; it’s abnormal. City living isn’t for me.

Plans after graduation
I plan to get my Master of Arts in Counseling in Idaho, and then to get a job with either the Vision Resource Center, Commission for the Blind, a VA hospital, an assisted living facility, or as a school counselor.

How MU has impacted your spiritual journey 
I’ve been given options for relationship on a daily basis with the student body of all ages — single, married with kids, etc. Also the spiritual growth, chapel, classroom prayer, and that we are allowed to pray with students.

A theme in your life
Be bold, fight for what you believe in, stand true to your convictions.

Advice to first-year self
Make sure you’re prepared and set yourself up for success; don’t procrastinate. Push through and don’t give up.

When I was one-and-a-half years in, I almost threw in the towel because of accessibility issues. I remember talking to Jon Mathis, and he told me that every other blind student who has been here has quit at the one-and-a-half year mark. If I could push through, I would be the first blind student to graduate from Multnomah (undergrad) in the school’s history.

I decided to go above and beyond my disability and to use it as a positive. This catapulted me to success. It’s not just about Nate. It’s about everyone to come. There has been so much trial and error, and hard work behind the scenes, as well as a lot of time involved. I didn’t want special treatment because if I did, what would my degree be worth? I want to pave the way for other blind students so that they can say, “It’s been done, so I can do the same thing.”

Join our students in this season of giving

Comments Off on Join our students in this season of giving Written on December 8th, 2015 by
Categories: Alumni, Pray For MU, Students

SilentNight-BIG (1)

God’s generosity in sending His Son cannot be matched. It’s the greatest gift ever given! For 80 years here at Multnomah our students have celebrated Christ’s birth and shared generously at Christmas time. Let me share two recent instances.


On Giving Tuesday (December 1), our students collected food for the hungry by partnering with the Oregon Food Bank. Despite the limitations of their student budgets, they donated four large barrels of food and personified God’s generosity. It was really amazing to see!


Then, when hearing of needs within their midst, MU students surprised two other students by taking up collections to send one to Thailand for a missions trip and the other home to Africa for Christmas. No fanfare. No announcements. No applause. Simply sacrificial sharing so there was no needy one among them.


Why do we give to those in need and share with those who have limited resources? God’s greatest gift to us inspires our greatest response to others!

At this time we are praying that God will provide for the financial needs of our students through generous giving. Would you pray with us? To date, Multnomah alumni and friends have given $715,388 toward Student Aid of our $1.45 million goal for this fiscal year.


God, indeed, is with us at Multnomah, and our students’ hearts are reflecting His character through their generosity. Will you join with our students and remember Multnomah in your year-end giving? We invite you to invest and participate in what God is doing at Multnomah.

give now

Your gift will be doubled, thanks to God’s provision of a match, so that Multnomah students will be equipped to show His generous love for a lifetime of ministry and service.

Growing in generosity,


Rev. G. Craig Williford, Ph.D.


Roger’s Café Celebrates Five Years of Coffee and Community

Comments Off on Roger’s Café Celebrates Five Years of Coffee and Community Written on December 4th, 2015 by
Categories: Students

Frothed milk, toasted coffee beans, chocolate drizzles and vanilla syrup are a golden combination for busy students. At Roger’s Café, the deep, rich scents of Portland’s favorite drink beckon passers-by and create the space for conversation.

Roger Porrett is eager to share the story of “his café” with anyone who passes through. Five years ago, students were asked to submit suggestions for the name of the new café. It didn’t take much deliberation. The students voted in an overwhelming majority to name the coffee shop after Roger, a beloved community figure who has been cleaning tables, arranging napkins and befriending students as a faithful volunteer for more than 35 years.


The day of the café’s christening will forever bring a smile to Roger’s face. “I made a speech and thanked the students,” he remembers. “They all clapped. I gave hugs and cut the ribbon. I was happy for that.”

Roger’s happiness still hasn’t worn off. In fact, it contributes to the café’s welcoming atmosphere. “Roger’s is a great place to foster existing relationships,” says Tony Huyhn, a pastoral ministry major. “It shows that our school is relationally-oriented and focused on building community.”

English major Daniel Gillespie agrees. “It’s a transient place to have a brief or long conversation,” he says. “It’s a space for a wide variety of social interactions in a natural setting.”


Many different types of chats take place at Roger’s. Sitara Kannen, an English major who works as a writing tutor, is thankful that her meetings happen in the café. “There’s something about eating and drinking together that relaxes people,” she says. “Writing tutoring is usually very emotional, but this atmosphere makes it easier for them to talk about whatever they want to. It helps them not be so intimidated.”

The atmosphere is also helpful for dispelling writer’s block. Drew Harper, son of MU professor Brad Harper, is working on a book with his dad. “Roger’s is the only place I write,” Harper says. “I told that to my publisher, and he flew me out from Los Angeles just to write at Roger’s.”

Roger-in-Rogers-Judy Glanz, the educational ministries department director, enjoys popping into the café because of its inclusive ambiance. “I come here to meet people because I enjoy the comradery of students and faculty,” she says. “This is a central place to connect.”

Whether it’s Hebrew professors and their students gathering around the table to study, or visitors tasting their first London Fog, Roger’s is a magnet for social interaction.

That’s what drew Tirzah Allen, Master of Arts in TESOL student, to apply for a job as barista. She appreciates the opportunity to meet people she might not see otherwise. “I make sure to be intentional about connecting to the student body through my job in the coffee shop,” she says.

Roger’s Manager Annie Bell feels the same way. “Working here is an excuse to be a part of people’s everyday lives,” she says. “It’s an avenue for relationship.”

Roger often wanders through his café to ask questions, hand out napkins, show off his rainbow suspenders and make students laugh. “I volunteer because I like the students, and they like me too,” he says with a lopsided grin.

You can get a caffeine fix virtually anywhere in Portland, but Roger’s signature blend of complex academia, rich conversation and sweet hugs — from the man himself — is a brew all its own.

Students collect food for Giving Tuesday, donate proceeds to Oregon Food Bank

Comments Off on Students collect food for Giving Tuesday, donate proceeds to Oregon Food Bank Written on December 2nd, 2015 by
Categories: Events, Students

There's always chapel on Tuesday, but today was a special kind of gathering. Today was the culmination of MU's food drive in observance of Giving Tuesday, a globally celebrated day dedicated to giving back. 

Since mid-November, students, faculty and staff have been adding non-perishable foods to the large white barrels stationed around campus. And today, those barrels — full to the brim — were brought to the front of the stage for a celebratory chapel before they were given to the Oregon Food Bank.

"We asked ourselves, 'What can we do to give to the Portland community?'" says Vice President Steve Cummings. "We came up with this idea for a food drive. We want to give back because we want to reflect the character of God."

Giving Tuesday Group Photo

Senior Drew Schinderwolf agrees. "It shows that we care," says the pastoral ministry major. "And it shows that we're not set apart, living in a bubble — we're a part of the community."

Freshmen and fellow history majors Ivory Linger and Hannah Aguirre were excited when they heard about about the initiative, and they're delighted the food drive is being established as a Multnomah tradition.

"It's the simplest acts that make a difference," says Linger. "This is something small we can do that does make a difference and shows people you care about them."

Aguirre concurs. "If you can give, it brings you closer to others," she says.  "I know God's going to use this to reach people."

MU celebrates 10 years of providing free English classes to local immigrant communities

Comments Off on MU celebrates 10 years of providing free English classes to local immigrant communities Written on November 30th, 2015 by
Categories: Programs, Students

Each Wednesday evening, people from all different countries begin to trickle through the Multnomah library doors. Some are garbed in long skirts and colorful head shawls; others wear flip-flops and tattered t-shirts. Some skip briskly down the stairs. Others need the assistance of family members. Some are toting notebooks, and some are empty-handed. They bear the marks of travel, and their appearances clash and contrast, but they have one thing in common — they’re all smiling as they slip into their classrooms to learn English.

‘Bringing the world together’


For 10 years now, MU’s TESOL program has been offering free weekly ESL classes to its ethnically diverse neighbors. Some are doctors, teachers, engineers or business professionals. Some have been through war, and others suffer from PTSD. Most are from different religions. One semester, a flock of orange-cloaked Buddhist monks were regular students. They arrived early each week to explore the MU library.

“ESL meets a practical need in our community,” says TESOL Department Director Kristyn Kidney. “It helps our MU students teach in a classroom by learning to navigate themselves. And it brings the world together through dialogue and friendship.”

‘Tenacious about learning’

DSC_7690Hue is a little Vietnamese woman who gives a gift to her teacher and writes a thank-you letter to the university every semester. Each year she returns to Vietnam to share the gospel with auditoriums of people.

Fatima is a 19-year-old young woman who moved from Somalia with her family eight months ago. She hopes to attend Portland Community College next year. “I love English class and learning English,” she says.

Whether it’s repeating phrases, doing crossword puzzles, acting out skits, sharing a plate of cookies or hearing tips about healthcare from a local doctor, ESL students are continually hungry for more. Just like a tidal wave, their enthusiasm affects everyone around them.

“These students are tenacious about learning English and are willing to work hard to get a better life,” says Becky Gerhardus, the program receptionist. “It requires a huge dose of humility to learn another language, but these students are sponges. They come early and stay as late as they can because they want to be here so badly.”

‘A journey of servitude’

Master of Arts in TESOL student Tirzah Allen wants to be there just as badly. Her sense of adventure motivated her to study ESL, and she’s passionate about her career choice. “I wanted the ability to open more doors and to be challenged continuously,” she says. “This is the full program with the tools to succeed. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with people from Burma, Vietnam, Cuba and beyond.”

And the students keep on coming. TESOL Professor John Runcie, who has taught at MU since 2007, was amazed when Wednesday night attendance skyrocketed. “This semester God has blessed our program with twice as many students!” he says. “One evening I looked up to see a tsunami of people coming down the stairs toward us.”

Runcie sees the weekly lessons as prime opportunities for his MA in TESOL students to reflect Christ’s light through all they do. And Allen remembers this whenever she teaches. “I’m learning that a teacher’s journey is one of servitude,” she says. “I can’t always out rightly incorporate the gospel in every environment, but I can always show others what I believe.”

The teachers’ efforts do not go unnoticed. Someone once told Runcie, “Many people talk about missions at Multnomah, but the TESOL program actually does it!”

Gerhardus agrees. “This program is like heaven,” she says. “People from every tribe, nation and tongue are here on the campus. God has brought the world to MU’s doorstep.”