Hearing one’s home language is like coming home. I saw how home was created here at Wheaton for me during my past four years on campus through friendship, love, knowledge, brokenness, and family. For a short moment, in preparation for a prayer I was asked to deliver at Baccalaureate on the day of graduation, I thought, How could I welcome ‘home’ many of the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and all who will be present?
Beyond making that day a homecoming, we inhabit a world where, though set apart by seas, walls, fences, and enmity, we are all made in the image of God. A habit as simple as listening to another language is the practice of asking, “How are you made in the image of God?,” then loving the answerer and their answer.
Therefore, I wrote my prayer as follows:
Thank you, Lord, first and foremost for your son. Your love has redeemed us and given us hope.
Gracias Senor (Spanish), for the breath each morning, clothes on our body, roof over our head, and food to eat for the last four years.
Krap kun Prajaow (Thai), for movement through dance, and sports, and stillness, because you have given us our bodies.
Ashkulallah (Arabic), for music, because with our hands and the breath in our lungs we can praise you. For colors, shapes, and lines, because you created.
Diu Merci (French), for the privilege and burden as we sit here as college graduates, or soon to be college graduates today, remembering those who cannot.
Slava Bogu (Russian), for bringing us all to the awareness of our brokenness, and how we cause pain and suffering as individuals, communities, institutions, and nations every day.
Xie Xie Shangdi (Mandarin Chinese), for staff, family, faculty, and friends, with whom we struggle together, pray together, rejoice together.
Terima Kasih Tuhan (Indonesian), for your providence through finances, fiancees, friends for life, and memories that lead us to smile, and to solitude.
Vielen danke zu Gott (German), for in our failing, grace was shown.
Gam-sa Hap-ni Da Junim (Korean), for the community where we have learned to be the church and Christians truly, truly, as we said before us the nations, to all the tribes and tongues we go.
And thank you so much, God, for all the ups and the highs, stories of woe and woo, when we look back and look now into the future we will know and be satisfied. It is well with our soul.
The article above is a description of and transcription of a prayer delivered by Joohee Uhm '15 at Wheaton College’s 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony. Photo (above): Joohee with friends celebrating commencement outside Blanchard Hall on May 10.
At Wheaton, I've learned to begin questioning from a place of faith. Faith is a matter of managing the tension of seeing only in part, while knowing that we will one day know as we are fully known. If we're being honest, however, there's a lot more gray area in the journey of faith on this side of heaven than we would like to admit. But faith trusts that following Jesus doesn't promise answers for everything—though it does offer enough.
I've come to learn that “knowing in part” naturally requires a willingness to be wrong, and the ability to say “I don't know.” I think back to the past couple of years where Dr. Winnie Fung M.A. ’14 (one of our economics professors), in particular, has given me countless opportunities to be wrong—and my grades can attest to this. But through her challenging us, I have learned to a greater degree the beauty of being able to say, “I don't know,” while also making sure to seek and hold to answers where God has provided them.
The second key to questioning well is hope: Maintaining that hope is not, never was, and never will be an individual effort. I can recall countless times of being encouraged and challenged by friends at Wheaton, at just the right time. I might even go so far as to say that it is only due to the community of believers that my faith has not only remained intact, but has become stronger while I've navigated the challenges of questioning.
And the greatest theme that should guide our questioning? Love. Here, I owe a shout out to my mom, who has asked me the same, simple question over these four years: “And how are you living it out?” Isn't this the most annoying question as an enlightened student who is going to change the world, but can't quite do it just yet? Saying this question brings back a flood of frustrating memories. Yet I am so thankful for this question, as it has taught me to never lose sight of love in the process of questioning. How do the questions I ask and the answers I've arrived at lead me to love better? For questioning in the absence of love naturally leads to cynicism.
In closing: questions are unavoidable. But how you answer questions—how I answer questions—determines what kind of people we will become, and what our witness will be. In the past four years, when it comes to questioning, I've learned the beauty of faith (that God has revealed himself enough), hope (God hears us when we pray, and questioning is to be a communal effort), and love (the process of questioning begins and ends with love).
The article above is an adaptation of a faith and learning testimony delivered by Jordan Heres ’15 at Wheaton College’s 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony. Photo (above): Jordan, fourth from left, with family and his fiancée, Ingrid Dyk '15 (also in cap and gown), at 2015 commencement.
“Wonder” was the defining feature of my journey with faith and learning at Wheaton. I remember sitting at HoneyRock during Student Development Week last summer with the Chaplain’s Office as Clayton Keenon led us in a discussion of Ephesians 4. As we processed through what it could look like to be the body of Christ this year, it was incredible to hear how the diversity of fields of study contributed to our conversation. We had communication, Christian education, business, and music majors—and each one had a slightly different perspective. And then we got to verse 16 of chapter 4: “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
I had read it so many times before, but this time the seemingly opposite worlds of the Northwoods and the human cadaver lab came crashing together, and I marveled at how my Applied Health Science classes illuminated Paul’s words and brought them into sharp clarity. I’ve felt those ligaments that Paul uses as a metaphor: They are incredibly strong; crafted by the Creator to withstand the jumping, playing, and working of our bodies. And far from being simply memorized anatomical facts, I was given a space to apply my learning to my faith and my experience of the truth of Scripture.
Even deeper than a concept of faith and learning as “application,” I’ve increasingly found ‘faith and learning’ at Wheaton to simply be an acknowledgement of the way life is, whether we recognize it or not. If our minds, our souls, these earth and skies, have been spoken into being by Truth Himself, and every piece of it is by Him and through Him and for Him, then our learning is itself an act of faith in that Creator. In that light, my Wheaton education has been an education in rightful, mindful worship. To converse about the theology of embodiment in a human physiology class; to discuss the sociology of Marian imagery in a cross-referenced art and biblical and theological studies class; to read about the anthropology of epidemic diseases; and yes, to connect Pauline metaphors with my anatomy class—each of these have been training exercises, strengthening my mind to engage in worship with all of its might.
So here at the end of my four years at Wheaton, the word that comes to my mind when I hear the phrase “faith and learning” is wonder. Wonder at the Creator, who spoke Truth into being and who invites us to think, to learn, and thereby to worship.
The article above is an adaptation of Catherine Holt ’15’s faith and learning testimony delivered at Wheaton College’s 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony. Listen to her full testimony in video posted above. Pictured above with family at 2015 Commencement (far left).
It’s hard to believe that my freshman year is just a few short weeks from ending. It has been a whirlwind experience, and God has surprised me in ways that I never expected. I found my first surprise on my floor this year, Fischer 4West. I grew up as the only girl with three younger brothers, so the idea of suddenly living in close quarters with 50 other girls was both exciting and a little daunting. I had heard great things about residence life at Wheaton (or Res Life, as it is endearingly termed), but I also knew that housing that many girls together held potential for some serious drama.
All of my hesitancies have disappeared as I’ve gotten to know my floormates this year. I have laughed heartily and cried bitterly with these girls, shared lots of meals, enjoyed fun days in Chicago and long nights of good conversation. They are so much more than floormates to me now. They have become some of my closest friends, and I am 100 percent confident that those friendships won’t end with the close of this school year.
A second surprise came through landing a job in Wheaton’s Academic and Institutional Technology (AIT) department. As an English and secondary education major with no prior IT experience, I wasn’t expecting much when I turned in an application to AIT at the beginning of the year, but a few weeks and three rounds of interviews later, I was offered a position as a student tech in their office.
Learning to “think like a computer,” in the words of my supervisor, has definitely proved to be a challenging process, but everyone with whom I work has been incredibly patient and gracious to me as I learn to stretch this part of my brain. One of the best feelings in the world is seeing someone’s face light up when you fix their computer’s problem, and I love being able to help people in that way.
I discovered the third and final surprise—Wheaton’s community diversity—through class discussions and informal conversations around campus. In these spaces, I have found dozens of fascinatingly different nationalities, upbringings, and ways of thinking. I didn’t expect an explicitly Christian school of 2,400 students to offer that kind of diversity. I am so thankful that I thought wrong. Hearing other people’s opinions and worldviews has challenged me to think critically about my own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others.
People often ask me, “Are you glad you chose to go to Wheaton?” With newfound friends, the opportunity to learn to think like a computer, and a broadened view of life and the body of Christ, how can I say no? In fact, I’m so glad that I chose Wheaton that, next year, I’ll be serving prospective students as a member of the Diakonoi and building community as a returning resident of Fischer 4West. I look forward to seeing what other surprises God has in store.
Chloe Keene is a freshman studying English and secondary education. Learn more about her Wheaton experience by visiting her author bio page. Photos from top: Chloe and friends enjoy a square dance on campus, visit HoneyRock in the winter, and enjoy their proximity to Chicago and its landmarks.
In Hawaiian, “Ohana” means family. “Koinonia,” a transliterated form of the Greek word κοινωνία, which means communion and joint participation, basically holds the same meaning for me. “Koinonia” is an idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Body of Christ. Koinonia, a club within the Office of Multicultural Development at Wheaton that exists to glorify God through the unique cultures of Asian community, is definitely not this idealized perfect community. But with all its imperfections, it has been my refuge at Wheaton.
Before I got involved with Koinonia, I was its biggest critic. Like many Wheaties, I wrote Koinonia off as an exclusive Korean club. As a racial minority on campus and an ethnic minority among the Asian community, Koinonia seemed unwelcoming to me as a Taiwanese. However, as a cabinet member of the Chinese Culture Club, the opportunity I had to work with Koinonia in organizing the campus-wide Lunar New Year Festival event during my sophomore year proved me wrong.
During the two-month-long planning period, Koinonia’s cabinet showered me with love, acceptance, and inclusivity. Despite not being part of the cabinet, I was often invited to have dinner with them and was included in many casual conversations. Due to the kindness that Koinonia cabinet showed me, I could no longer stubbornly hold on to the negative image I had of Koinonia. Coincidentally or not, I discovered that Koinonia was preparing to recruit for the following year’s cabinet. My prideful self still desperately wanted to cling on to the bitterness I had towards Koinonia, but after a hard period of struggle, I surrendered my pride and pain to God and asked Him to give me the chance to be part of this community.
Through being part of Koinonia, I’ve learned the importance of race-specific ministries. Growing up in Taiwan and China, I’ve always held strong prejudices against other East Asians for political and historical reasons. The bitterness I harbored in my heart against non-Taiwanese Asians was eliminated through the relationships I built with my Asian brothers and sisters. Furthermore, I began to explore and find my identity in Christ in a contextualized way through living in a community that understands and affirms my Asian experiences in this country.
Serving as Koinonia’s president this past year has been the most humbling thing I have experienced my whole life. Not only did God expose an array of shortcomings I never knew I possessed, He showed me His abiding love and grace through my cabinet members. Despite the countless times I failed them, my cabinet chose not to hold grudges, but instead confronted me for the sake of reconciliation and love. They’ve seen the worst side of me, yet still choose to love me and respect me—if this is not family, I don’t know what is. They showed me that this community is not about perfection and performance; Koinonia exists for the imperfect and the broken.
In Hawaiian, “Ohana” means family. Koinonia means family to me. It is my family.
Jennifer Fu ’15 is a senior studying geology. Read more about her Wheaton experience on her author bio page. Photo credits: Daniel Sung-Min Yoon '15.