January 2016

Wheaton In Chicago: "Who Is My Neighbor?"

Posted January 27, 2016 by Hunter Hambrick '17

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"I want to be a sponge,” I told myself before beginning my fall semester with Wheaton in Chicago. I decided the best posture to adopt when living in Chicago would be one of humility. Learning and growing as a person were my main goals, but little did I know how much living in the city would transform me.

My greatest impetus for applying to Wheaton College was Wheaton in Chicago, the semester-long program that allows a small group of Wheaton students to live, work, and learn together in the city. It provides students an opportunity to learn from community organizations all across Chicago. After my freshman year, it seemed foolish to live so close to a leading global city without ever truly accessing its resources.

And ‘access’ I did.

I said I wanted to be a sponge, but in reality I did less ‘soaking up’ than I did drinking in of Chicago’s myriad of social concerns:

Housing discrimination.

Education reform.

Mass incarceration.

Gender inequality.

Racial segregation.

The opportunities to learn and serve seemed infinite.These colossal concepts made the program particularly challenging but equally rewarding. Through coursework, service opportunities, and my internship at Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (led by David Doig ’86), I realized that developing whole communities is difficult work but extremely worthwhile.

Wheaton in Chicago both complicated and corrected my overly idealized view of the city. Chicago presents certain advantages and disadvantages, but it ultimately makes me ask the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Answering that in a way that is for God, for people, and for creation may take me a lifetime, but it will certainly make me a more complete person.


Hunter Hambrick '17 is an English Writing major. The Wheaton In Chicago program has had over 200 students participate in it since its creation in 1998. Learn more about Wheaton In Chicago by watching the video below or visiting their website. Interested in applying? 

Photo Captions: Hambrick in front of the Uptown theatre just a few blocks away from the Wheaton In Chicago apartments; the 2015 Wheaton In Chicago group 

Rigor & Transformation: My Experience with Music Education at Wheaton

Posted January 20, 2016 by David Batdorf '16

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My experience as a music education major at Wheaton has been marked by rigor and transformation. Early in high school I found myself muttering, seemingly void of inspiration, the ambiguous phrase, “I want to impact kids’ lives.” At the time, what I really wanted was an impressive performance career, but for the sake of job security, I “settled” for music education. Now, as I begin my last semester at Wheaton, I’m so thankful that God used my misguided motivation to bring me into the music education department at Wheaton. 

Music education is considered by many to be the most demanding major at Wheaton. Whether or not this is true, it was demanding enough to quickly challenge my motivation: do I really love music and people? What will motivate me to wake upevery day and pour into students? What will keep me from burning out?


Wheaton did not expose these questions without providing resources for answers. A spring break trip led to an internship which staged a gospel-driven, heart-transforming summer. Professors invited me into their offices and lives, offering friendship, challenges, and opportunity. Friends shared meals with me and, while we ate, offered their passion for Jesus and his work. In its rigor, music education exposed me to questions that could only be satisfied by Jesus. When I began to discover his heart I found that it loves beauty, relationship, and work. God loves music education because He made everything about it.

I want to impact kids’ lives. The once ambiguous phrase is now poignant and inspirational. I want to share Jesus through music because through it, Jesus has found me.


David Batdorf '16 is a senior music education major with a French horn concentration. Visit the Wheaton Conservatory website to learn more about Wheaton's music education program.

Photo Captions: David hiking in New Hampshire; David with the Symphonic Band French horn section

Wheaton College at #Urbana15

Posted January 13, 2016 by Tony Abiera M.A. '16

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During the opening session of #urbana15, Tom Lin, the Vice President of InterVarsity USA, asked the audience of 16,000+ this simple question: “What story will you tell with your life?” As the theme of this year’s conference, this question deeply permeated the hearts of the audience, whether missionaries with decades of experience, college students thinking through their career paths, or recent graduates prayerfully considering job offers. We were all challenged to live our lives in light of God’s global mission, telling the story of Jesus in our diverse contexts.

My wife, Kelsey M.A. ’17, and I were very excited to attend our first Urbana Conference. We didn’t need to be convinced to “go” as missionaries—instead we were praying for God to bring clarity and direction to our desires. Our passion for cross-cultural missions began in college, when we each spent a summer sharing the gospel in East Asia and got involved in ministry to the international student population on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s campus. After graduating, we got married and began taking steps to "go" and gain a vision for cross-cultural church planting amongst unreached peoples. Our plans led us to Wheaton College Graduate School, where we are pursing degrees that we pray will equip us for more effective ministry overseas.              


As we sat in the audience during the main sessions and seminars, God brought us clarity in a surprising way. Through several speakers, God reminded us that the first and most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In David Platt’s main session, we were convicted that a heart for missions is not the same as a heart for God. We were called to examine our hearts and see if we were manufacturing a passion for missions while missing a heart for Jesus above all else.

This conference was a milestone for Kelsey and I. Not because all our questions were answered. But instead, because God used Urbana to gently remind us of our primary purpose in life—to love and worship God, which leads us to tell the beautiful story of Jesus to all nations.


Tony is pursuing his master’s degree in TESOL & Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College Graduate School. His wife, Kelsey, is pursuing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Learn more and apply on the Wheaton College Graduate School’s website

Photo Captions: The Urbana15 stage is ready for an evening session of worship music and speakers; Tony and his wife Kelsey take an Abiera selfie at the St. Louis capital building; the Graduate School team of faculty, staff, and students at the Urbana15 exhibitor booth.

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