Category Archives: Features

Evangelism and Advent


By Maddie Cash | Features Editor

Dr. Jerry Root first discovered his love for Christ and passion for evangelism at a Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) gathering when he was a freshman in college. Immediately, he began to share his newfound faith with others, because he “thought everybody would want to know about this.” Three days after his own transformation, he shared the gospel with three boys in his dormitory. “I didn’t know anything,” Root told the Record, chuckling. “I shared everything I knew in about two minutes.” However, as he was praying for the college students to come to know the Lord, three Cru ministers knocked on the door to visit Root. Surprised by encountering a new believer passionately pointing others to Christ, they stepped in and led two of the three men to Jesus. Root now shares his faith with individuals “at least two to three times a week,” joking that, almost half a decade later, he now has had practice in sharing his faith.

“I’ve never stopped being grateful. I’m still deeply moved by all that Jesus has done for me. I love him,” Root said, his sincere brown eyes shining behind his thick glasses. To Root, who conducted a seminar on Thursday night, Dec. 6 about “Sharing Your Faith at Christmas,” evangelism has become a spiritual routine, that he views as vital to faith.

Yet he denies that evangelism is his spiritual gift. “I get upset if people try to say that I do [have the gift of evangelism], because they often will say that as if to suggest that unless you have the gift, you don’t have to do this,” he told the Record. According to Root, evangelism should be integrated into one’s specific gifting. Using his gift of encouragement is his specific method of getting to know an individual and sharing God’s love with him or her. “A person who [never shows respect for a person] never gets to see somebody come to faith,” Root said solemnly. “Nobody should ever … be a target for evangelism — or a project. Because the sharing of the message will seem as disingenuous as we treat these people.” Root is a firm believer in asking questions and listening. By taking time with an individual and realizing their intrinsic worth, Root emphasized that the listener will discover “where God’s already moving in his or her life and then begin to make explicit what’s going on implicitly.”

Root’s awareness of the power of evangelism is, in part, due to his lifelong study of C.S. Lewis. Lewis was passionate about evangelism, and, like Root, began sharing his faith immediately after his conversion. Root is not only inspired by Lewis’s example in discussing and developing the faith, but also his integration of literature with faith. “If you immerse in Lewis,” Root told the Record, “he opens more than wardrobe doors. He takes you to other books.” According to Root, the literature and philosophy that Lewis read and wrote about gives you “a wide understanding of human history, human thought, the aspirations of the human soul … Every time you meet a person, you bring that to the table, that, ‘wow, there’s a million places where that person’s pistons may be firing, but I think I’m familiar with a lot of them.’ And so you can connect the gospel to a million places.”

A wistful look crept into Root’s eyes as he connected Lewis’ integration of faith and learning, a cornerstone of Wheaton’s academic and evangelical mission, to the current state of evangelism endeavors at Wheaton. As part of a Wheaton evangelism group, he reports to President Ryken about the evangelism efforts taking place at the college. The group’s goal is to “cultivate an ethos where students would pick up, by intention and contagion, an interest in evangelism.” Root’s talk about sharing faith during the Christmas season was inspired by his involvement in the group. It also came about due to his conviction that Wheaton College cannot “rest on our laurels and assume that [effective evangelism training] is going to happen naturally.” In order to encourage the permeation of evangelism throughout Wheaton’s atmosphere, the group encourages faculty to share their faith, their witnessing experiences, their stories and their hearts with students.

Root compared Wheaton’s passion for sharing the gospel as an undercurrent of daily student life, similar to the train that runs by campus. At first, the only thing new students can hear is the raucous train outside their windows. However, after a week or so, students don’t even hear the chugging and whistling that so bothered them initially. “If the drumbeat to build a passion for evangelism was coming from one quarter of the campus,” Root told the Record, “it wouldn’t be long before you wouldn’t hear it anymore, just like that train.” Thus, Root hopes to encourage the Wheaton student body to be winsome purveyors of Christ’s love and entranced followers of his beauty. He concluded that ultimately, “Jesus is at work everywhere. If the students incline themselves to lean into the work he’s doing, they’ll see him a lot. If they follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit and they see somebody respond to the gospel, they get excited about it.”

Freedom of Expression: 15 years of dancing at Wheaton

  On the night of Nov. 14, 2003, Wheaton College held its first campus dance in history, marking an end to the 143 year ban on dancing. Local and national news networks were captivated by the story unfolding before their eyes; the NewYork Post even wrote about it in their “Weird But True” section, and news of this event somehow managed to make its way to a news channel in Australia.

After over a year of intensive planning by College Union President Bethany Jones, Wheaton College wasabuzz with activity. Media crews hovered around campus and students excitedly made their way to the gymnasium to participate in the historic event.

Despite the commotion that the dance aroused, Wes Carrington, a staff writer for the Record in 2003, reported that, “Wheaton’s first dance was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from the college community as over 1,200 students crammed into the gymnasium to exercise their newfound freedom.”

Dr. Gary Burge, a professor of New Testament who attended the dance, stated, “I was impressed with our students. The turnout was great, the gym was packed and if anyone within our community — trustees, administrators, faculty, students, alumni — had reservations about dances at Wheaton, those concerns were laid to rest Friday night.”

Today, dance is such an integral part of campus life that most students cannot comprehend Wheaton without it. Hye Rim Ryu, a senior at Wheaton and a member of the dance group Rampage, says, “To me, I don’t think Wheaton would be the same — I wouldn’t have had the same experience — if dance was still banned.” She says that as an international student from Bolivia, it has been hard for her to connect with other students, but dancing has helped her build relationships with other students.

She joined Rampage her freshman year and felt embraced. Ryu said that currently, “There are a lot more [dance] groups being formed. There’s adance ministry now on campus, Zoe’s Feet. And a lot more students are willing to participate at dance events and groups or things like that.”

Ry believes that dance is slowly becoming a larger part of the Wheaton experience. She continued, “Even if students don’t dance, they go to things like [the] Talent Show and Air Jam, and they see students perform, and it’s become part of a whole community activity.”

Junior Jeremy Moore, known for his skillful and energized performance in the Talent Show, said that he grew up in the Church of God in Christ, which encouraged dancing.

Moore remarked, “When you feel the Spirit, you dance.” He said that he’s been dancing ever since he heard music, and he mainly does freestyle and hip hop with his friends. Though he doesn’t typically choreograph his dances, he is grateful to dance with people who have that skill.

Moore said about his dancing abilities, “All glory to God for giving me these gifts and abilities.”

Jill Kuhlman, a senior who hosts the Instagram account “@some_friends_dancing,” said that she first learned how to connect dancing with her faith when she joined Zoe’s Feet as a freshman. Kuhlman said, “It really just sort of changed my life.

Just thinking about how I could ask the Holy Spirit to move through me, just like you can ask the Holy Spirit to give you words to pray or just sit in stillness and hear from the Lord. I also learned that my body’s a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I could ask to pray through the Holy Spirit with my body.”

Zoe’s Feet taught her a concept known as “dancing in tongues,” and she learned how to move even without choreography. At first, she didn’t completely understand the concept, but now she’s very passionate about it: “I honestly believe it —  totally believe it — and I take it super seriously.”

In her interview with the Record, Kuhlman said, “It’s normally so much less pretty than trying to dance by myself. When I ask the Holy Spirit to move through me, it’s really weird looking, but it feels like a really awesome way to pray. Anyone can do it — you can do it!”

Kuhlman started the “@some_friends_dancing” Instagram account with her friend and Wheaton grad Rebecca Watkins after reading the book “A Sacred Shift” by Marlee Grace. Every day for a year, Grace posted a video of herself dancing. Kuhlman and Watkins were inspired and thought, “Well, nothing is stopping us from doing this — let’s do it, too!” So, as part of a New Year’s resolution, the two friends decided that every day for a year they would post a short video of them dancing on Instagram.

At first, Kuhlman was a bit nervous and embarrassed, but soon she learned to put aside her worries of what people thought, and she found a lot of joy and healing in the process. Not only does her daily dancing bring vitality to her soul, spirit and body, but it also inspires others.

In response to Kuhlman and Watkins’ Instagram account, sophomore Cassidy Keenan, along with her friend Anne Symons, created an Instagram account called “@some_other_friends_dancing.”

Keenan says that dance has allowed her to experience a kind of freedom and allowed her to enter into the presence of God. She says, “I have found one of the best things that [dance] has helped me [with] in terms of my spiritual life is with really specific emotions of grief and anxiety.

[Those] have been the two biggest ones.” She says that sometimes, “you just don’t always know what to say, and there’s so much going on and no way to let it out. You’re trying to connect and you just don’t know how, [so] when you just kind of move, it’s a language of its own; you use your body to try to say things to God that you couldn’t say [with words].”

 Keenan remarked that dance has allowed her to live in the moment and stop worrying about the past and the future. She said, “I’ve never been more fully in my own body.”

Keenan’s main interaction with dance is in Arena Theatre, but she also participates in the Zumba class at Wheaton. Liz Lengel, a senior and one of two instructors at Wheaton, describes Zumba as a “guided dance party.” It is fitness-based and generally includes Latin American and international styles of dance music, as well as American hip-hop.

When asked how dance has impacted her life, Liz said that Zumba is great for one’s personal well-being and that it allows people to “gain confidence in, [the idea that these are] our bodies and movement is not something we should be ashamed of. That’s so pervasive in our culture. Having an outlet like Zumba, I’ve just been able to see so many people come out of their shells and find so much freedom there.”

Liz said that there is “so much freedom in being totally shameless and [thinking], ‘Nope! This is dance and it’s a beautiful thing. I don’t have to be self-conscious about this and no one else should be either.’”

Themes of freedom, expression and confidence rang out in every interview with these dancers. Sometimes dancing allows people to communicate with the Lord and sometimes, as Emma Sholtz, a freshman at Wheaton and member of Swing Club stated, it is simply an “expression of joy and a chance to just relax.”

Even so, the campus emphasis on dance as a worship outlet or ministry can be overwhelming to students who want to pursue dance professionally. Senior Mercy Barrial, who has danced for over 10 years, dreams of opening her own dance studio.

Originally, she told the Record, she wanted to get a degree in dance studies but Wheaton’s liberal arts program attracted her. When she first came to Wheaton, she hoped to join Zoe’s Feet in order to pursue dance on the side. However, she found more opportunities outside of Wheaton. Now, she has been accepted into a professional dance company in Chicago.

“I don’t appreciate how Wheaton doesn’t consider dance to be something that’s academic … in a lot of ways that discredits the value of dance,” she told the Record.

Barrial entered Wheaton with dance credits and wanted to use them but found herself unable to because Wheaton’s conception of dance tends to be “ministry-focused,” and, to Barrial, discounts the value of dance as “an actual art form, like music or ceramics or painting.”

While dance as a ministry is certainly a beautiful thing, Barrial’s story indicates that perhaps Wheaton’s conception of dance has yet to be fully developed.

Whether or not you’re part of a club, dance group or professional company, one way you can participate in dance at Wheaton is through the President’s Ball. College Union member Melissa Montiel says that campus dances are a great way to foster diversity and encourage individual expression. Although she could not give out specific details about the annual dance, she said that they have chosen a venue and posters will be going up this week.

While Wheaton has yet to elevate dancing to an area of academic study, dance as a form of ministry is still a blessing for many students on campus. On Nov. 14, 2003, Wheaton students were given the “go ahead” to start dancing, and they haven’t stopped since. Dance groups have continued to perform across campus, and dance has become a part of life, a way to respond to God, a practice of health and a way to simply enjoy life and build confidence. In just 15 years, dance has gone from being forbidden to being embraced as a way to glorify God and enjoy life and movement.

Trustee Steven C. Preston takes on a new challenge


By Piper Curda, Staff Writer

Steven C. Preston is one of many committed members of the Wheaton College Board of Trustees as well as Wheaton’s Advisory Board. However, many may not know that if there were ever a Renaissance man of the business world, Preston would be a likely candidate.

His daughter, Maddy Preston (‘18), told the Record, “He literally does everything.” Preston characterized his own vocational journey as “rich and varied” in a phone conversation with the Record, lauding his diverse background in business as a continual learning experience.

He recognizes each of his different vocational callings as “a great platform for the next thing that I’ve been called to.”

In January of next year, Preston will be stepping into his newest role: President and CEO ofGoodwill Industries International (GII), an organization with its headquarters in Rockville, Md., that is committed to helping people “reach their full potential through education, skills training and the power of work.”

However, Preston’s journey to his current position was less than standard. Preston was the SeniorVice President in the Investment Banking department for Lehman Brothers from1985-1993, which he credits for helping him to “develop a foundation of skills [and] learn about the world of finance.” This job prepared him to transition into a financial leadership position at a number of companies, including FirstData Corporation (Senior Vice President and Treasurer from 1993- 1996) and TheServiceMaster Company (Executive Vice President, from 1997- 2006). In 2006, he became the Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration(2006-2008). From this position, he entered into government and served as theSecretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Bush administration (2008-2009) before going on to work as the ChiefExecutive Office of Oakleaf Global Holdings (2009- 2011) and later as the Executive Vice President of Waste Management, which acquired Oakleaf in 2011. Always on the move, Preston soon became the CEO of Livingston International(2013-2016), a company focused on customs brokerage, trade compliance, international trade consulting and global trade management services. In 2017, he also took on the role of the Vice Chairman for the Liberty Advisor Group which aims to improve customer experience and value for the business and technology sector. Now, in conjunction with his newest role, Preston will continue to serve as the Advisory Board Trustee. “The first thing I have to do … is spend the first two or three months really digging in deep to understand the challenges and opportunities at Goodwill and … how I can work with the team to address them,”Preston explained when describing his plans for his new position.

He says he was originally drawn to Goodwill’s mission to help diverse groups of underprivileged individuals reach their full potential and provide opportunities for them in the workforce that may seem otherwise inaccessible. Goodwill was ranked in 2017 as the brand doing the most good for the world, according to enso, the World Value Index. In addition, Goodwill has been the only nonprofit organization on the “Forbes” list of top 20 most inspiring companies for three consecutive years. According to Goodwill’s press release, the company serves the nation through local organizations, which “build revenues and expand employment opportunities by contracting with commercial, state, government and non-government organizations to provide a wide range of business services.”

It is specifically this emphasis on providing work opportunities that piqued Preston’s interest. “I really believe that … we’re created to work, that we find personal expression,that we find dignity, that we create value in our work,” he told the Record. He then went on to express his enthusiasm for taking part in an organization “that embraces people with those challenges and helps them find a place in life where they can go forward and sustain themselves.”

His daughter Maddy supported this statement, saying that “at the core of everything that he has done … he really cares a lot about people … the reason that he is so excitedabout [his new job] is because of the job creation aspect of [Goodwill].”

However, while at Goodwill, Preston’s focus will not simply be to help people find jobs; he will emphasize many of the programs Goodwill already has in place for underprivileged youth, seniors, veterans, disabled persons and those with special needs or criminal backgrounds. “He’s just really passionate about getting people on their feet and providing people with a way to both be financially stable but also empowered in doing so,” Maddy said, noting that her father is extremely excited about providing those who are “generally disadvantaged” in our society, like veterans, with dignity.

Despite the ease with which he speaks about his goals and motivations for his new endeavor, Preston credits his past experiences in the world of business for preparing him for the job. “Running [Goodwill] is very much like running a business in manyways,” Preston explained. He anticipates using many of the same leadership, business, finance, marketing and branding skills that he has developed in previous jobs.

Even so, he also knows there will be points at which this new experience differs from his previous jobs in the corporate realm. “At the end of the day, the mission is very much tied up in helping people in need,” Preston said.

Along with his work with HUD, Preston also served on the board of both the Federal HousingFinance Agency (FHFA) and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He believes his time in government adjusted the way he approached business, saying, “it gave me a better understanding of how Washington intersects with Wall Street.” Ultimately, it led him to better grasp the ways in which the two spheresinteract and work together to impact the country. Preston also explained the ways his experience in business aided his work in government, referring to the tendency of many government departments to run in a similar manner to large businesses.

“There’s a terrific opportunity for … classically-trained business people to go into government and help the government be more responsive to people’s needs,” Preston told the Record. His experience with the management of Fortune 500companies also allowed him to streamline governmental processes and opportunities for aid.

Preston’s hope to live a “mission-driven life” is encouraged by Wheaton College. President Philip Ryken (‘88) told the Record that on the Board of Trustees, Preston is “held in very high regard by other Trustees for his commitment to our mission, very keen analytical ability, his ability to frame problems (he’s a real problem-solver)and he understands the leadership of complex organizations.” Preston is anasset for several different committees on the Board due to his versatile experiences, according to Ryken. The reason he was interested in serving on the board, Preston says, is because he views Wheaton as “an incredibly important institution, not only in Christianity, but in our country in general.”

He praises the perspective that Wheaton brings to complex issues at the intersection of faith and culture. Preston, having attended a secular university (for both his undergraduate and graduate education), as well as having worked in a predominantly secular workforce, especially admires the way that “Wheaton helps people make sense of how faith comes together with the world we live in.” It is no surprise that, above all, Preston commends Wheaton’sability to foster community and calls the college a “great source of encouragement and … seeing other people who really live their lives in a very missional way.”Preston describes his Christian faith as the foundation for the business decisions he makes and says that, when faced with yet another new work opportunity, “I’ve always started with the lens of faith to determine whether or not it’s something I should be doing.” It is this continuous integration of seemingly separate spheres of life that helps Preston articulate his belief that being successful in business and helping others do not have to be mutually exclusive.

He cultivates this combination through serving others through business. “Whether it be how you provide opportunities for your employees [or] how you bring dignity to the work place [or] how you advance certain values in serving other people,” Preston believes that, even aside from traditional ministries, there is always space to bring goodness into the workplace.

This is not to say that Preston’s commitment to his faith has not brought its own set of challenges. But, as his daughter Maddy said, “he really sets his own standard. He doesn’t work towards the expectations that anyone else might set for him, and I think that has made him really successful and able to really accomplish all of the things he has done.”

Even so, some of his decisions have not been met with unanimous approval. “I’ve found that I have had to make decisions that may be less aligned with typical business decisions because I’ve done them according to my faith,” Preston told the Record, though it was clear that he did not let these kinds of trials deter him from his resolve to keep his faith at the center of his actions.

He recounted moments in which he had to “sell those decisions” to people in charge, especially when it came to decisions that might have a financial impact on the lives of others. Preston said that while these decisions “may not have been the most expedient financial decisions, they were the right decisions from a human perspective.”Not only is this sacrificial business method in line with the way Prestondesires to be “mission-minded,” but he posits that it also brings about “opportunity to stand up for what you think is right and … bring people into the same mode of thinking.”

Preston acknowledges that this way of living and doing business may not be the easiest route in a secular workforce, but he encourages Wheaton students to embrace hard decisions in favor of their faith.

Preston advocates for Wheaton students to take notice of contentious areas in their field of study that do not necessarily align with their principles and to “wade into those areas asking questions … in a way that shows concern and shows care.”Additionally, he promotes a posture of listening, learning and seeking to understand how things work and how one might be able to grow through their experiences in whatever field they choose to work. This is a practice that Preston himself continues to implement in his work life, especially now as he is transitioning into a new position. He makes a point of emphasizing that, “even as a young person, you can have an impact by leading with your values” and being a “caring voice in the room when tough decisions are being made.”

Preston is assuming the role of president and CEO of Goodwill amidst high expectations. According to a press release put out by Goodwill, Dale Jenkins, Chair of the GII Board of Directors, stated that “Steve has a proven track record of exceptional leadership during his highly successful careers in both the private and public sectors. He also has a deep personal commitment to serving others that is truly inspirational. I am excited about what this dynamic combination of talent, business acumen and servant leadership will mean to the future impact of Goodwill.” Ryken agrees: He told the Record that he “[sees] this as a very good fit for Steve Preston, because it’s a CEO role for a global organization, it’s an organization that wants to give opportunities to work and if you look at Steve’s career, that’s been a key part of what he’s done with the Small Business Organization and other places, and so it immediately struck me that [Goodwill]is an ideal opportunity for him.”

Seeking God in the stars


By Abigail Aycock, Guest Writer

“When it came time to pick a major, I thought that astrophysics made sense,” Wheaton Collegephysics visiting instructor Rhiannon Blaauw told the Record.

Originally from Grimsby, Ontario, Blaauw was fascinated with the natural world from an early age. Even so, she says never would have guessed that her childhood curiosity wouldeventually lead her to a position at NASA, nor that she would one day have anasteroid named after her.

Recalling her childhood, she said, “My family went camping all the time. We would go camping for almost the entire month of July, which involved us going to pretty remote places around Canada and even the U.S. I just ended up falling in love with the night sky. Even in grade school, I absorbed anything related to astronomy. Physics was my favorite science in high school, and I figured the Lord would lead.”

Graduating from Canada’sUniversity of Western Ontario with a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics in 2008, she went on to receive a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Western Ontario’ in 2010.

Currently, she is working on a master’s degree from Biola University. Her two master’s degrees reflect her Christian background and interest in merging vocation and faith.

Blaauw learned from an early age that being a Christian in a secular environment requires whole-hearted engagement with non-believers and believers over the shared wonders of God’s world. She cited her attendance at a secular university and her work at NASA as allowing her to integrate her scientific interests with evangelistic endeavors. In fact, interacting with other students and professors who ascribe to a completely different worldview in the context of academic science has helped her to be more passionate about her area of study.

She told the Record that “interacting with non-believers in that way made me ask myself a lot of questions, so that spurred my interest in science.” Her passion for science, in addition to connections through her research and master’s thesis, led her to begin work in 2010 with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. There, Blaauw had the opportunity to work professionally in the area of interest she’d loved since childhood.

She told the Record that she worked with a group of around eight individuals, with her speciality being“anything in space that can affect spacecraft and … meteoroids.” As part of her area of expertise, she built environmental models that allowed space craft designers and operators to create a resilient spacecraft or protect sensitive equipment.

When asked what her day-to-day responsibilities were in the MEO, Blaauw said that her work involved “taking data through various types of equipment — through cameras, radars and infrasound — and then looking at that data and allowing it to help us build a model of the environment.”

Blaauw found her work with NASA different from her previous projects. “In grad school,” she said wryly, “you tend to have projects that take months or years. Whereas when I got to NASA, my projects had [quicker] turnaround so lots of them were either weeks or months long.”

Blaauw rose to the challenge of the fast-paced NASA deadlines, and due to her development of a new methodology used to calculate optical meteor fluxes from obstacle systems, she was nominated for the Marshall Innovation Award in 2017.

According to NASA’s website, the Marshall Innovation Award is designed to “promote and honor innovation and creativity in the MSFC workforce [and] provide recognition to employees who have best exemplified creative and innovative work accomplishments and behaviors during the year.”

As a result of her nomination, Blaauw had an asteriod named after her. The asteroid, name dis 10279 Rhiannonblaauw is “orbiting peacefully between Mars and Jupiter,” according to Blaauw, who humbly told the Record that this momentous honor was just “one of the highlights of my career [at NASA].”

How did Blaauwpersevere in a new, stressful environment with such success? She creditssupportfromauthorities in her lifeas aforce that propelledherforward. “A significant part [of my success]  was that my boss really believed in me and my abilities, so that allowed me to flourish and accomplish projects that, on the outset, seemed very intimidating,” Blaauwsaid. Even when there were times she was intimidated, Blaaw persevered. Her problem-solving philosophy is to break down a problem to the simplest elements, to rely on previous knowledge and to refuse to be afraid to ask for help.

These three keys helped her grow and succeed in NASA’s fast-paced environment. After working with NASA for seven years, Blaauw found her way to Wheaton as a visiting physics instructor. Blaauw told the Record, “I thought that [it] would be a really neat experience, to give teaching a try.” She was ready for a change of pace, whichWheaton’s emphasis on Christian learning supplies. While still maintaining a contract allowing her to do some work with NASA, her primary focus at Wheaton lies in enabling her students to worship through the study of the natural world and preparing them to observe nature through a God-focused lens.

Blaauw raved about her Wheaton experience, specifically in reference to her new opportunities to think through vocational intersection.

“I love thinking through the intersection between science and religion and teaching about the different questions about life,” she told the Record. “In this context, it’s not only allowed, it’s encouraged. To be able to bring up these conversations of faith and reason and the philosophical side of science in the classroom has been a lot of fun for me.”

Blaauw said that her passion for faith and learning is encouraged by her students. “People really genuinely want to expand the kingdom of God with their lives and with wherever they go after Wheaton. And that’s really really fun for me to be around, it’s really inspiring.”

Blaauw described how Wheaton students’ passion for the kingdom of God has influenced her educational philosophy. She shared with the Record her desire to not onlyeducate the mind intellectually but to foster discernment about worldviews throughviewing the sciences with a lens of faith.

Blaauw emphasizes the importance of engaging intentionally with the scientific community. “My integration of science and faith has a lot of evangelism roots, trying to understand worldviews, trying to understand why people believe what they do and trying to understand a more naturalistic worldview,” Blaauw said. This naturalistic worldview is prevalent in scientific fields, and Blaauw has come to realize that her previous experiences in secular environments have allowed her to articulate her own worldview: “[Christianity makes] the most sense of all the worldviews.”

When asked about her primary passions and how she uses them for the Wheaton community, she said it is her calling to equip scientists to succeed not only academically, but spiritually. Blaauw pinpointed her specific mission as helping “those that have a scientific mindset to see the validity of Christianity and the richness of the truth there.” She told the Record that the practice of questioning encouraged by science lends itself well to engaging with non-believers who are curious about the Christian faith. She said she “finds people are generally pretty open to talking about [Christianity]. You can sense pretty quickly if they don’t want to go there with you, but there are a lot of people who still have big questions about life.”

Her advice for Wheaton students, who deeply care about integrating evangelism within their area of passion, is to lay a strong spiritual foundation for themselves before attempting to converse with others. “Prepare yourself to interact with other worldviews, to really think critically about the worldview that you will interact with [the]  most post-Wheaton and to really think through why Christianity is abetter worldview than that [worldview.]”

“If you think through it yourself first, it makes it a lot easier to engage with people about those topics.”Blaauw’s unique approach to evangelism, science and learning brings a fresh appeal, as she teaches others about the creation and Creator of the night sky that she loves so dearly.

Art of protest, art of dreams


“The show is really about people and communities working together to both protest the current injustices and to dream of a better future,” explained Greg Deddo, the gallery manager for the “Art of Protest/Art of Dreams: Contemporary Printmaking in Oaxaca and Chicago” exhibit is in the art gallery on the first floor of Adams Hall.

As part of the show this past Friday afternoon, two artists from the Instituto Gráfico de Chicago shared stories about how they came to be involved in the long-established tradition of printmaking.

In this print by Edith Chavez, a woman poses with chickens wrapped around her head. This print is from a series focused on women adorned with chickens, an animal Chavez regards as an essential part of human life because they provide sustenance for thousands of families around the world. To create her prints, Chavez burns wood that she then carves before printing, which allows its unique natural features to shape the woman’s body.

This artist talk was part of the opening reception for the exhibition, which runs from Oct. 29 through Dec. 20. Sponsored by the Wheaton College art department, the exhibition explores the work of over 30 artists from Oaxaca, Mexico and Chicago. The prints showcase the intersection of identity within the realms of culture, gender, religion, tradition and modern life.

Deddo told the Record that the impetus for the exhibition began after Professor Cherith Lundin researched printmaking practices on-site in Mexico.

“There is an incredible history of print media in Mexico, and Oaxaca in particular, has become a world-renowned center for printmaking in the past decade,” Deddo said.

“Nasty Liberty” by Ester Hernandez features Lady Liberty wearing large hoop earrings, a fashion statement historically associated with women of color. This Statue also has a large tattoo reading “NASTY,” a reference to recent political comments regarding women and the feminist movement. This unconventional depiction of the Statue of Liberty raises questions about America’s core values of liberty for all as well as the identity of females living in America

Lundin returned to Wheaton with a desire to bring print media and printmaking to campus. Deddo said, “The show was really about listening, learning and receiving … We hope that the show is an opportunity for students and members of Wheaton to see the potential of art as a uniting force.”

True to their vision, the show also united departments across Wheaton’s campus. Throughout the semester, the Spanish department has sponsored viewing parties for Mexican films to accompany the exhibit, and has contributed to the recent Artist Series performance by the Mariachi Herencia de Mexico which is comprised of young students from Chicago’s Hispanic barrios.

Ivan Bautist’s print features a man holding a lantern beneath a crucifix. His work clearly alludes to pre-Columbian art in its style and symbols and also plays with Catholic imagery. This juxtaposition intentionally provokes more questions than provides answers, particularly about the division between the secular and holy, life and death.

The two visiting artists from Instituto Gráfico de Chicago (IGC), Ricardo Serment and Carlos Barberena, were greatly inspired by past Latin American printmakers, particularly Jose Guadalupe Posada who is considered a pioneer. Posada worked during the 19th and 20th century as a political printer and engraver during a turbulent time in Mexico. Serment and Barberena find inspiration in his satirical pieces because the work comments on the country’s political and social atmospheres in the hopes of provoking his audience to engage through art.

In response to critics who believe that technological innovation is leading to a decline in traditional art forms like printmaking, Serment suggests joining his workshop in Chicago. This event, “Grabadolandia,” takes place Nov. 16- 18 and brings together hundreds of neighborhood kids to collaborate and participate in making prints.

Translated into English, Paulina Camacho’s print, “My Decision,” reads, “Neither the church, nor the state: my body, my decision.” A worker woman stands on a package of birth control pills. The piece comments on how, in many places across Latin America, birth control medicine continues to be restricted.

According to the IGC website, their mission is to “use our art to inform and generate community discourse about urgent social issues. We believe that art is not separate from life.” Because the IGC emphasizes community engagement, Wheaton students and faculty had the opportunity last Friday to join the artists in learning about traditional printmaking through a hands-on demonstration in Lower Beamer.

Artists Edith Chávez and Ivan Bautista from Burro Press, whose work is prominently featured in the exhibition, will visit Wheaton College next week to discuss their work and the lively art community in Oaxaca. “The exhibition,” Lundin said, “traces a link between protest and dreams, highlighting ways in which art can draw people together, invite dialogue and work towards justice.”

During a time of intensely polarized political strife and divisive conversations perhaps printmaking can be a source of empowering unity and hope.

In this print by Edith Chavez, President Donald Trump rides a toddler’s rocking horse and waves an American flag while fenced inside of a rodeo corral.

Meeting new realities: Global Urban Perspectives

“I saw Jesus in unexpected ways … in the ways He’s sanctifying race, ethnicity and calling all people to Himself,” senior Michael Contreras said, reflecting on his time spent in Xela, Guatemala in the summer of 2017. “The sovereignty of God and how God does not desire his people to suffer was really made real,” he continued, crediting these and other revelations to his time with Global Urban Perspectives (GUP), one of Wheaton’s summer ministry programs. Contreras recognized that serving in an urban context was not always easy, but it was always humbling.

He admired the people he met through Inner- CHANGE who lived in Guatemala full-time, saying, “It gave me hope that the church can do good work … seeing an actual manifestation of people living a life of justice … that wasn’t adorned in any way by the world,” he said.

This is exactly the kind of attitude that this year’s GUP cabinet is trying to promote both within GUP and Wheaton’s campus community GUP was founded in 2001 by the former Office of Christian Outreach (OCO) Assistant Director, Dante Upshaw, who envisioned it as a ministry “committed to mobilizing our campus community to be bridges to the cities of the world.” It was born out of the disbandment of National City Ministry, an outreach opportunity offered by Wheaton that lost momentum. “We couldn’t allow the city to be neglected,” Upshaw told the Record in a phone interview. As a result, the OCO hatched a new idea that would aim to not just focus on the urban cities in America, but “realize that [problems in] urban neighborhoods were a global issue,” according to Upshaw.

Ultimately, GUP was designed to expose Wheaton students to a broader range of global urban issues and give them “a different view of God’s heart for cities around the world.” GUP continues, 17 years later, to foster an environment where students can “learn well, listen deeply and see the gospel with an emphasis on social justice and urban issues,” according to Cabinet Administrator senior Emily Barbosa. When asked what GUP was hoping to accomplish in the upcoming year, Barbosa said, “[We are] trying to be a more present force on campus.” Junior Kayla Hurst, GUP orientation coordinator, echoed this hope, expressing a desire to “not only [emphasize] that our focus is primarily on urban issues, [but also] understanding issues of race and poverty and planning some events throughout the year that correlate with that.”

GUP is often overlooked in the flurry to sign up for more popular student ministry opportunities. Students either don’t know about GUP or have the wrong idea about the programs GUP offers. Last year, only two students applied for GUP. Even Barbosa herself said she had a different impression of GUP before joining the cabinet this year. “I didn’t know that there was anything that happened on campus [associated with GUP], and I don’t think I realized how much of an educational experience it is,” Barbosa said. She talked about GUP’s ongoing educational programming focused around race, urban issues and social justice that GUP sponsors during the year. “I had the perception that it was just ‘you go and help people’ but it’s a lot deeper and more respectful than that,” Barbosa said.

In attempting to find their voice in the conversation on campus, GUP’s cabinet has made it their mission to differentiate themselves from other summer ministries at Wheaton.

GUP is often associated with Youth Hostel Ministry (YHM) and Student Ministry Project (SMP), two groups that offer unique experiences of their own. According to GUP members, this tends to cause confusion and misconceptions about the structure and goals of GUP.

All student summer ministry programs stretch from six to 10 weeks during the summer, are largely service-based and well known for sending students to unfamiliar locations throughout the globe, but Barbosa pointed out a few key areas in which GUP differs from other summer ministries. “All of GUP is internship-based, while not all of SMP is internship-based,” she clarified. “GUP focuses on urban issues and social justice events … the events on campus [are] throughout the semester, not just over the summer.”

Additionally, Cabinet Chair junior Anna Horton specified GUP’s emphasis on learning that sets it apart from other programs. “All of our partners have an experiential learning framework … they already have established this infrastructure to train and teach students about the intersectionality of urban issues,” Horton explained. “You’re going to be talking about race, poverty, sustainability, environmental issues, things like that,” she said.

These discussions on “hot-topic” issues aim to not only to help GUP students learn about these issues but also to integrate the larger Wheaton student body through events open to the public.

One such event is a lecture series co-sponsored by Solidarity Cabinet entitled, “Can You Talk About Race?” Horton explained that she felt this was a relevant conversation due to the increasing discourse on campus about race. “A lot of people think we need to talk about it more, some people think we need to talk about it less … [We] think we just need to talk about it well.” The series will feature lectures from professors in different departments sharing what their field of study has to offer in discussions about race, sharing their personal experiences with racial issues and participating in question and answer sessions with students.

While GUP hopes to stress the significance of learning about social justice, they also embrace a wide range of practical social justice endeavors, sending students to a variety of programs and urban environments in both international and domestic settings. It sponsors immersion internship programs in partnership with ministries in locations ranging from U.s. cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago, to countries like Guatemala, Mexico and the Philippines. For instance, the Los Angeles and Chicago program, which works with Sunshine Gospel Ministry (the primary partners for Wheaton in Chicago), is mainly focused on youth urban ministry. Simpson, who spent his summer in Los Angeles with organization InnerCHANGE, described it as “transformational” and “a refreshing change from Wheaton.”

Similarly, junior Bethany Faulds referred to her time working with Denver Urban Semester in Colorado as “formational.” However, for many students, international GUP programs can be an intimidating prospect. Even so, members of GUP cabinet, past participants and founder Upshaw stressed the importance of moving past these constructed fears and putting yourself in situations that may not be ideal but will always be rewarding. Faulds recalled that before GUP, she “was terrified of cities,” but she credits her time with GUP for teaching her that “cities aren’t scary and God is just as much in the city as He is in the suburbs or in the country.” Junior Troy Simpson expressed a matching sentiment, saying that the most important thing he learned from his time with GUP was that “I don’t have to be afraid.” He reflected on the novelty of living in a new cultural context and the ways it tested him, but reported that the results of these trials are that “we don’t have to be [afraid] because God is with us. And that’s crazy!” “By considering GUP, [students] are not just doing a service to the world, but reminding the world that we want to learn from the most overlooked voices,” Contreras explained, “not just in the states, or in Guatemala, but everywhere.”

Hurst acknowledged the common anxiety about entering the unknown, but reiterated GUP’s goal of listening and learning, “regardless of how much you think you know about it. You don’t have to be an expert; you learn in the process.”

Ultimately, as Upshaw concluded, “It’s God’s heart that is really broken because of the division not just in society, but also in the church.” He recognized that when stepping into these communities and situations, “it’s thick, it’s heavy and oftentimes it will be uncomfortable,” but that GUP creates a “place for [students] to have the sweetest fellowship, to be challenged and to grow.” Upshaw hopes students at Wheaton will continue to seek to learn about and contribute to the urban ministries of the world with both openness and humility, whether that is through GUP or another summer ministry opportunity. Applications for GUP are due November 4.

The first installment of “Can You Talk About Race?” will be Oct. 27 with Dr. Cartagena.

My experience sharing the stage with Michael W. Smith

On the stage of Edman Chapel, hundreds of musicians watched David Hamilton raise his arms, a serene smile playing across his face. Instruments hovered in the air, waiting for the first note to breathe life into them. Bows waited a fraction of an inch above strings and more than a hundred singers watched for our cue, the first word taking shape on our tongues. The audience waited in breathless anticipation for the moment they had come for, the moment when four Wheaton ensembles would join together with Michael W. Smith to praise God with one voice. I had the privilege of participating in Women’s Chorale and had a front row seat.

The concert, which took place on Thursday, Oct. 18, was a fundraiser for the second addition of the new Armerding Center for Music and the Arts, which will include a new lobby area, a choral rehearsal and a new concert hall.

It was also a night of worship and powerful music. I asked other members of Women’s Chorale what they felt during the performance. Junior Grace Mamalat, chaplain of Women’s Chorale, described the experience as “a glimpse of what Heaven will be like” with everyone “praising and glorifying God together.” The night of worship, which included four Wheaton music groups as well as Smith and Hamilton, was also an embodiment of Wheaton’s pursuit of musical excellence in performance.

This concert with Smith, whose wife, Debbie (80), attended Wheaton College, is one of many examples of the opportunities and connections provided by Wheaton’s vast alumni network. What’s more, Wheaton’s unique position as both a respected Christian college and an excellent conservatory means that guest artists of international renown are not only open to collaboration with Wheaton, but actually seek it out, according to the Dean of the Conservatory, Michael Wilder. “This was Michael W. Smith’s idea,” Wilder told the Record. “It was [Michael W. and Debbie Smith’s] impulse and generosity that started this [concert].”

For many Wheaton musicians, the opportunity to perform alongside a world-renowned Christian artist was a surreal experience. In an email interview Mamalat said that she had grown up listening to Michael W. Smith, but never thought that she would meet him. Mamalat said, “Just to be able to personally meet, work and perform with him was eye-opening…. Being able to meet someone who was so important in [my] childhood was something [I] felt touched by.”

After weeks of rehearsal and anticipation, the day of the concert finally arrived. I felt a sense of God’s providence and blessing above the normal confusion over rehearsal times and locations, changes in plans and tweaks in the program logistics. For some of the performers, including myself, the day’s activities began with a question and answer session with Hamilton and Smith. This was an opportunity for all music majors to ask questions and gather valuable wisdom from two world-renowned Christian artists.

During this question and answer session, Hamilton shared many valuable insights that are relevant to music majors and non-music majors alike. He stated that an important part of being a Christian in the arts industry is “learning that my value is not dependent on what I do.” He continued, “I’m not a human doing, I’m a human being. God’s the one who’s spoken our value.” These words of encouragement set the tone for the rest of the day as preparations for the event continued.

Sophomore Jackie Boutcher, assistant business manager on the cabinet of Women’s Chorale, said that it was “both challenging and inspirational to hear their stories about their experiences in the music industry and the struggles and triumphs of composition and songwriting.”

A few short hours after the Q&A, hundreds of musicians gathered in Edman for the first and only rehearsal as a complete ensemble. It was with some trepidation that we took out our music and instruments and waited for Hamilton to take his place at the director’s podium. Voices were hushed and positions were decided, mics and cameras adjusted. Once the rehearsal was underway, however, the ensembles responded positively to Hamilton’s infectious energy. Mamalat remarked afterwards that Hamilton “had so much  joy … in our rehearsal with him.”

I saw this joy pervade the entire rehearsal process. There are always challenges in working with a large and diverse group of musicians, but everyone involved clearly found joy in working together to glorify God. Joy derived from the ability to work together with so many different people is important from both a musical and a Christian perspective. According to Mamalat, “it is a beautiful opportunity to fully embrace the vastness of the Kingdom of God … God has given each of us divine gifts, and just to think that God has brought all of us together (all our gifts and talents together) to build His Kingdom — wow! It’s incredible!”

Smith expressed his excitement about this collaboration, saying very simply that “tonight’s going to be awesome.” Even though this concert was a completely new experience for both himself and Hamilton, Smith did not seem daunted by the collaboration process. “I like it because it’s an adventure,” he told the Record. “The unknown is exciting to me.”

Wilder also had a lot to say about the importance of working cooperatively within the conservatory. “Any big project brings with it collaborative joy — doing work together — and so it was for all of us, students, faculty and guest artists,” he said. Without the joint effort of many performers with diverse gifts, music making at this scale would not be possible.

However, the ability to work together with a large variety of people has significance far beyond the conservatory. Wilder pointed out that the Wheaton ensembles are composed of musicians with unique backgrounds and experiences. According to Wilder, the people on stage are “people who’re involved in the conservatory as majors in other fields.” In fact, he emphasized that about 50 percent of the ensemble members are not music majors.

“Music at Wheaton College isn’t about just those who are pursuing music degrees — it never has been,” Wilder concluded. Thus, not only was the concert a chance to collaborate with diverse musical groups, but it also brought the entire campus together in a unique way.

The concert’s emphasis on joyful campus-wide collaboration was meant to be a reflection of the purpose of the new Armerding Center, which will be partially funded by the concert revenues. Wilder made it very clear that he envisions this new building, which will also house the conservatory, will benefit the entire campus.

“Let’s be really clear about this,” Wilder said pointedly. “The Armerding Center for Music and the Arts is host to the conservatory of music, but it will also host everybody else on the campus and thousands of other people, so it’s not that it’s only the conservatory that lives within the Armerding Center. Certainly, you’ll find the conservatory there, but you’ll find hopefully everybody else on campus and well beyond.”

This intentional inclusivity even extends to the architecture of the new building. “Weput a 15 degree slant on the new part of the building and part of that allows that front door to the community to be more obvious … and allows the door to the college to be more clear … we’re excited about what that symbolizes,” Wilder said. Music can, and should, be an instrumental part of the campus experience — and the new building is meant to reflect that reality.

“It’s community building.” Wilder added, smiling slightly at his own musing. “It’s a little like the Rec Center, or Beamer. I mean no one’s sitting over there [in Anderson Commons] going, ‘Wait, are you majoring in food? What are you doing out here?’ … We all go there to eat, right?” In the same way, the Armerding Center for Music should be a place where music and non-music majors come together to engage in a fundamental part of campus life: worship through music.

The Smith and Hamilton concert, then, wasn’t just a fundraiser. It also wasn’t merely a night of worship. In the same way that the new Armerding Center is meant to be a way to unite everyone on Wheaton’s campus, the concert was a celebration of what worship in the Kingdom of God should look like.

There was a variety of styles and genres represented, from the intricately structured and elegant melodies of Rimsky-Korsakov, to the expressive freedom of gospel and pop tunes, to the meditative power of the Christmas song, “All is Well.”

There were also worship songs which invited audience participation, an element that turned out to be a very powerful component of the concert. In fact, Boutcher thought that the experience of standing and singing with the entire audience was the most impactful part of the night. “The sound of hundreds of people in worship was truly moving and very gratifying as a musician and performer,” she told the Record.

In the end, worship at Wheaton isn’t about who is a music major or who is a biology student. It isn’t about who has won a Grammy Award or who has sold the most records. Glorifying God, with or without music, can and should be something that unites our campus, our country and our world.

Wilder emphasized how important collaborative worship is in the kingdom of God. “Surely God smiles when he sees this collection of people all offering him due praise and doing it with one voice. Surely this is pleasing to him, and that of course is quite pleasing to us.”

Wheaton joins the fight against poverty

“I came into this year thinking, ‘I don’t have anything where I’m affecting ministry directly … am I doing the work of a Christian?’” sophomore William Braden told the Record, putting his hands over his mouth in mock-consternation.

Then he discovered ONE, a poverty-fighting advocacy group that currently has more than 9 million members. He and sophomore Lyndi Tsering co-founded a ONE campus chapter for the first time in Wheaton, ushering in a new outlet for students of all backgrounds to serve the world.

ONE’s foundational goals are to lower poverty and preventable disease rates around the world, particularly in Africa. Partnered with many important, influential figures and companies, such as Apple, Bank of America and Coca-Cola, ONE aims to advocate for government involvement in effective poverty and disease-fighting policies across the globe. The non-partisan organization was co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono and Bobby Shriver on May 16, 2004. The organization enjoys a position as “a trusted voice on Capitol Hill with both parties when it comes to development and global health issues,” according to Michael Gerson (‘89), nationally syndicated opinion columnist for the Washington Post and a Senior Advisor at ONE.

Gerson first got involved with ONE before its conception. During his recent visit to campus, he told the Record that he met Bono while he was the Assistant to President George W. Bush for Policy and Strategic Planning. According to a 2010 article published by ONE, Gerson was a “key advocate for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), the fight against global sex trafficking and funding for women’s justice and empowerment issues” during his service to President Bush. Gerson’s meeting with Bono laste 2.5 hours. “I was just amazingly impressed with his knowledge and commitment,” said Gerson.

When Gerson left government employment in 2006, he wanted to stay involved with ONE because the group had been so dedicated to their non-partisan stance. “They were willing to praise success wherever it came from, even from a Republican Administration,” Gerson said, “and they’ve remained that way over the years … [while being] the main grassroots organization in America for this set of issues.”

The non-partisan aspect of ONE also attracted Braden. “I’m a political science major,” Braden told the Record, “but I don’t like to determine things along party lines, and so [ONE], a non-partisan organization, [is] focused on an issue that almost everyone can get behind, the elimination of extreme global poverty. That was really attractive to me: just seeing their commitment to just being non-partisan, but also their commitment to accomplishing their tasks.”

Tsering and Braden first found out about ONE during the 2018 Wheaton in Washington program, where they met Jared Noetzel (‘13), the Lead for Faith Strategy and Engagement at ONE, and Gerson. “We had a Q and A session there, and after it … [they told us], ‘We don’t have a campus chapter at Wheaton, but we’d love if you guys started one!’” Braden said, chuckling a little. “And so Lyndi and I looked at each other, and we said, “‘We should probably start one!’” There are currently 98 chapters on college campuses across the US.

The current executive board of the Wheaton ONE Chapter is made up of Braden, Tsering, sophomore Aaron Doci and sophomore Samantha Wolf. Tsering explained that there are a few different objectives for this year. “One of them,” Tsering said, “is educating, raising awareness on these issues, on the role of people in the US to advocate [for effective political strategies to decrease poverty and disease levels] and then how foreign aid is being used in other countries.” Another major part of student involvement is using their newfound knowledge about advocacy and aid to lobby for new legislation.

Already, the group has written letters to senators asking them to support the international affairs budget for fiscal year 2020, which will help fund international aid.

Braden and Tsering plan to connect with other chapters in Illinois. “Illinois congressional district six has their own chapter,” Tsering told the Record.

“We just met with the coordinator last night … so we might work [with them], which would be extending our campus [chapter into] the larger community in Illinois, but then we’ll pretty much stay regional.” Braden added that while the leadership of campus chapters nationwide is discussing strategies and staying in touch through group messaging, the mission of ONE is moldable to Wheaton’s campus. “I think what’s unique about Wheaton is that we can kind of talk about the faith aspect too,” Braden said. Although ONE is not a faith-based organization, it does include many people of faith. Gerson characterized it as a faith-friendly organization adding that “faith makes a big difference in living a balanced life, but it also provides a certain anthropology, a view of human beings, their rights and dignity, that requires you to be engaged in the world in some way or other in elevating that ideal.”

According to Gerson, it is the Christian’s duty to be involved in protecting and providing for those in need. “I think it should make a difference for every Christian,” he told the Record. “They have a certain view of the image of God present in every life, and that should really affect the way that they approach the kind of citizens they are as well.”

This respect for humanity is central to ONE’s method. ONE is dedicated to empowering individuals in their own location, respecting them as autonomous and enabling them to become self-sufficient. Braden emphasized that ONE specifically avoided the so called “savior-complex,” which foreign aid policies have often propagated. Instead of putting a bandaid on one issue in struggling countreis, ONE lobbies for 17 different developmental goals. “[They focus] on everything from energy infrastructure to cleaning up pollution in the oceans, clean water, providing food, healthcare, [and] educating women and children … The way that they also connect with the [local] government and make sure that there’s transparency with people in the country … really impressed me,” Tsering told the Record.

Her hope for the newborn Wheaton chapter is that it will be equally diverse in the skills that it grows. The chapter welcomes a diverse array of students from a variety of departmental and organizational backgrounds, in hopes that it will be better equipped and more well-rounded. “There [are] so many focus issues and ultimately all of us as Christians … should be playing a role,” Tsering said soberly, looking at Braden, who nodded. He said, “I started to think about how the ONE Campaign … [is] serving needs that need to be met, [just] in different ways.” Tsering agreed.

Her voice rising as she leaned forward, she put feeling into every word. “Working here to do what we can…. It’s so easy to get right in the ‘Wheaton bubble mindset,’ and finding ways to affect issues externally is difficult, but ONE has such a good opportunity with the campus chapter that is focusing on our campus community, on being present here, but then also doing … tangible actions that can actually make a difference.”


The big picture

“I could talk all day about how wonderful my mom is,” Leah Schoonmaker (‘20) told the Record, her eyes crinkling about a wistful smile. Her mother, Gail Schoonmaker (‘93), will be visiting campus for her 25th reunion during homecoming, and Schoonmaker is the illustrator of children’s Bibles familiar to many of us: the Big Picture Story Bible and later, the ESV Big Picture Bible. Her notable career as an illustrator does not preclude her from being a wonderful mother to four children, who have grown up reading and treasuring their own Story Bibles.

Schoonmaker did not always dream of being an artist. In a Southport, Ind. preschool, she briefly had aspirations of being a doctor, until she had a run-in with her pediatrician and a rectal thermometer. She told the Record in an email, “I decided then and there that practicing medicine was not for me, and I would rather be an artist.

After all, I was never happier than when coloring, cutting, folding and pasting (unless you count eating ice cream, which is harder to translate into a career).” She initiated most of her pre-college artistic training herself, checking out “How to Draw” books from the library, watching Bob Ross and making recycled materials into art before it was trendy to do so. “In high school I took oil and watercolor painting lessons from local artists,” she said.

“While these pursuits did not make me cool, they did make me happy, so it never crossed my mind to major in anything but art.” When she did begin thinking about where to attend college to pursue her artistic goals, Wheaton was not at the top of the list.

Accompanying a friend to Wheaton’s campus as a high school junior, she attended a chapel service and fell in love. Her experience at Wheaton was inaugurated by song: “I sat in chapel with a few thousand young men and women who sang their love to Jesus, and I wept upon discovering that such things happened. I wanted to spend four years learning from and with outstanding people who love God and intend to glorify Him with their lives.”

After her four years studying at Wheaton, Schoonmaker moved with her husband, Keith Schoonmaker (‘91), to Chicago to start a church plant of College Church in the South Side of Chicago. Out of the process of starting what is now Holy Trinity Church, Schoonmaker realized the disconnect between the dozens of separate Bible stories taught to children and the central message of the gospel. Thus, she and the teaching staff of her church designed a program that included catechism, Sunday school curriculum and family devotionals to explain the Bible as a single narrative pointing to Christ.

When Pastor David Helm (‘83) created a Story Bible to replicate this program for young children, he asked Schoonmaker to illustrate it. Although the project started on a small scale (Schoonmaker said that Helm originally asked for “about a dozen” illustrations to photocopy for the children), Schoonmaker told the Record that it eventually, “became a fully illustrated 450-page story Bible first published by Crossway Books in 2004 and subsequently translated into more than a dozen languages.

It was the first in a wave of many excellent single-plotline story Bibles.” Schoonmaker’s goal in illustrating the Big Picture Story Bible was to reflect the larger, cohesive narrative of the Bible. In an April 2013 article written by David Shaw for Volume 38, Issue 1 of Themelios, an international theological journal published by the Gospel Coalition, Schoonmaker’s illustrations are analyzed and praised for their consistency with Scripture.

“Schoonmaker’s illustrations have a strong relationship with Scripture,” Shaw wrote. “First, they are full of biblical detail, supplementing a more stylised and generalised text. Second, they make visual connections very effectively, linking OT promises and typological patterns with their fulfilment. In that respect they are without equal in story Bibles.”

In 2015, Schoonmaker was commissioned to illustrate 226 new paintings for a full-text Bible for older kids (six to nine year olds). She told the Record, “I got to enjoy choosing, studying, meditating on and painting a fresh variety of biblical texts … some scenes, proverbs, laws, warnings and encouragements that I’ve never seen illustrated before. The whole process was one of spiritual growth as I immersed myself in Scripture and prayerfully sought to create images that communicate its truth. It is a wonderful and important thing when a child opens God’s Word, and I want any illustrations included to instruct, confront, delight and encourage the reader to explore further.”

Schoonmaker’s unconventional illustrations seek to spotlight both the good and the bad in Scripture. Too often, children’s Bibles are totally clean of any sort of repercussion for sin, and if they do address some of the darker themes of Scripture, they avoid discussing them in detail. However, Schoonmaker illustrates underrepresented scenes in the Bible, such as Baal and Elijah, as well as non-narrative theological teachings like those in Colossians 3 about putting off the old self and putting on the new self. In an interview published by Crossway on June 18, 2015, Schoonmaker gave an example of how abstract biblical concepts translate into visual art for a children’s Bible: “I chose to contrast Wisdom and Folly. The fool stands with his arms crossed and nose in the air, amid dark images of him shaking his fist and plugging his ears, linking arms with men of violence and drunkenness, cowering in fear and chasing after a seductive woman.

Wisdom, often personified in Proverbs with feminine pronouns, stands in an attitude of praise. She is surrounded by light images of herself reading and praying, listening to an elderly couple, working hard and sharing her bread with others.

All of the images — dark and light — were gleaned from repeated phrases throughout the Proverbs.” Schoonmaker’s main motivations for illustrating are her own children and other young students. She told the Record that her work as a Sunday School teacher for three to five-year-olds has provided an outlet for her to create Bible craft projects to “reinforce each Bible story while simply adding to kids’ delight in church attendance,” which Crossway is now marketing as a collection. “Nothing beats watching them listen on the edge of their seat, hanging on my words as I tell them stories from the Bible. It brings home God’s Word, ‘Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” Leah Schoonmaker agrees: Her favorite part of her mom’s job is the fact that she gets to see young students in the church grow up reading, discussing and learning from the well-rounded and beautifully illustrated Story Book Bible.

The award-winning Kodon

“Upon first glance at ‘Kodon,’ one would be forgiven in mistaking the oversized journal for a high-end fashion catalog,” wrote graphic designer Anne C. Kerns a judge from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). Her high praise for Kodon’s design accompanied a $1,000 cash prize for design as part of the 2018 National Program Director’s Prizes for Undergraduate Literary Magazines.

The prestigious award, which Kodon received for graphic design and layout, is one of two given nationally by the organization. Kodon’s achievements will be acknowledging in a forthcoming issue of the prestigious literary publication “The Writer’s Chronicle” and at the 2019 AWP Annual Conference and Bookfair, which, according to Ciera Horton McElroy (‘18), is the largest literary conference in North America.

McElroy was the supervising Editor in Chief of Kodon for the issue that won the prize. She told the Record in an email that this award is “quite the honor, since we were competing with undergraduate programs (of all sizes!) and literary journals from around the country. This award really speaks volumes to the artistic vision and creativity of the Wheaton students who made this journal possible — and to the way Wheaton continues to support the arts.”

Kodon has a rich history of being particularly effective at spotlighting the creative ingenuity of Wheaton students. The journal is a biannual art-centric journal that features students’ fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art. Kodon was first published in October of 1946 and was originally a monthly publication with short stories, cartoons, pictures and editorials.

After several formatting changes, it became a seasonal publication in 1960. Kodon has seen its fair share of controversy over the years; its artistic community sometimes had different opinions than the Board of Trustees on the appropriateness of its content. After several suspensions in the 1960s, student editor in 1962 Wes Craven (who went on to direct such famous horror movies such as “Scream” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”) wrote that “it is the conviction in this office, that, in the arts the Fundamentalist Christian world, and more specifically Wheaton, is sadly short of its potential and far behind its contemporaries.

Therefore the copy of this magazine will remain (as long as the present staff remains), free and limited only by the criteria and the boundaries of artistry.”

His statement, followed by a similarly controversial winter issue, caused the Board of Trustees to suspend the student publication. The next year, Kodon was allowed to resume activities and has remained a mainstay for the artistic expression of the

Wheaton student body. A diverse student staff led by Kodon Editor-in-Chief Amanda Laky oversee each division of the issue, Wheaton students are invited to send in their literary and artistic work to be reviewed by other students and potentially featured. The graphic designing of each biannual Kodon publication is often overlooked. Students’ original designs and layout adorn each issue, centered around a theme.

This year, Kodon’s Spring Semester 2017 design received favorable feedback from national designers as a result of winning the AWP award. Kerns, the judge for the competition, raved about the evocation of a “gravitas that often accompanies black and white photography … Such restraint and exuberance set the stage for the content that follows. Each piece of art and writing, although independent, is held together with the dynamic tension of a quiet palette paired with solid type.” This restraint and exuberance were also reflected in the unique color blocking and text distribution of the issue, according to Kerns. She noted that “this push-pull, like breathing, creates a rhythm that carries the reader through the pages and allows the content to be savored. The publication is lively and contemplative at the same time, bookended by grid-based typographic layouts for the table of contents pages in the front, to short reflections on the theme in the back. The design is strong and cohesive and really quite lovely.”

Kodon staff who talked to the Record continually brought up Kerns’ comment that the design was evocative of a “high-fashion magazine.” Arah Ko (‘18), the poetry editor at the printing of the issue and the editor in chief at the time of submission, explained that the original vision for the design did indeed come from a high-fashion publication: “It’s not necessarily something you’d expect from a literary journal, but we have the opportunity to be a bit experimental as a student publication … so that was a really fun opportunity.”

The high level of design skill is equally unexpected for an undergraduate publication. In fact, Ko remarked that one of the original reasons for entering the Spring 2017 issue of Kodon into the competition was hope of recognition for the amount of work and resources that are poured into the journal.

“The quality was unusually high, school invests a lot in it, we train a lot of students to work on the staff and it wasn’t really getting to a wider audience or getting recognized outside of the immediate Wheaton community…. [and so through the AWP competition,] it was really great to be recognized in our first go.”

The design process is made easier by Kodon’s friendly relationship with their printer. Hannah Lane (‘19), the publicity manager for Kodon, told the Record what a difference it made for Kodon to have a close tie with the printers. She said emphatically that “We have a fantastic relationship with our printer; they have been working with us for years … it’s great, because printing costs for magazines (especially of the quality of Kodon) are really going up nationwide right now because there’s so much [competition].”

However, for Kodon, the printing price is kept low because the printer sees printing Kodon as part of their ministry. This special connection speaks volumes about the community- bridging impact of Kodon’s work, as it attempts to display thought-provoking art and writing in a God-honoring and beautiful way.

The printer also helped Kodon’s staff who worked on the winning issue brainstorm their design. Ko told the Record about this process. “They said, ‘you know, if you just find a sample of something that you’d like us to do, you can just bring it in and we can see how close we can get to that.’ So she actually found a fashion magazine and she was like ‘I like the feeling of this’ and so she brought it in, and there was this big meeting with the printer and the editorial team and the designer and they all collaborated and decided on the issue that we got.”

Building on the success of last year’s issues, Kodon is attempting to emphasize the universality of their mission through their design in this year’s offerings. “This year we’re really starting to explore the vibes,” Lane said with a grin.

“The vibes that we want Kodon to have this fall [are going to be] a little more homegrown, something very, artistic and bright and interesting because we’re really trying to emphasize that Kodon is for Wheaton.” As opposed to previous years, which Lane characterized as seeming to be “the English department and the art department putting out a shared effort,” Kodon is aiming to reflect the wide array of talents and backgrounds of Wheaton as a whole. The next issue will be “something very much about campus,” Lane told the Record. “Anyone can make art and write and do beautiful things, so I think that’s something that we want to reflect in our aesthetic.”

As opposed to the dark, subtle and simple edition that won the National Program Director’s prize, Kodon’s future issue will be eye catching, according to Lane. When asked about how winning the prize has impacted the Kodon staff, Lane told the Record, “It definitely has put the heat on,” laughed and then quickly added “In a good way, a good way!” Kodon’s success last semester has motivated the current Kodon staff, who are mostly new to their positions, to distinguish this issue. Lane explained, “We have something big to live up to now, and we’re a lot more visible, so it’s exciting because it feels like we’re recognized and validated for the first time.” The new, national visibility is exciting but also comes with its own set of responsibilities. Kodon must show itself to be well-made, conventionally excellent and yet altogether unique in order to garner accolades on the level of last year. Lane summarized Kodon’s mission this year as “hoping not to necessarily outdo ourselves but at least create something equally as impressive … it’s going to be different for sure, but we have no doubt that it’s going to be of the same quality, because we want to represent the college well.” Kodon is currently accepting submissions for their fall issue.

Submissions can be sent to kodon.submittable. com by Saturday Oct. 13 at midnight.