A Week of Life-Changing Experiences.

By: Lauren Tadych, Sophomore


It can be difficult to break out of your comfort zone. It can be challenging to sign up for a weeklong trip with 10 people you’ve never encountered. But, after doing it last year in North Carolina working with Habitat for Humanity, I knew I had to sign up for another BREAKAWAY trip this year. I decided to go on the Washington D.C. trip with Center for Student Missions! For me, it was important to choose a place where I have never been. D.C. is very similar to Chicago in that there is gentrification. Basically, the neighborhoods are increasing in price and people who once could afford to live there no longer can which forces them out and as a result many of them end up on the streets. As a team, we quickly realized our purpose for going on the trip to D.C. was the same—to gain a new perspective and to be able to impact a life.34409837326_1097a482f3_o

Every day was a jam-packed schedule. It was a program set up so we could use every bit of time that we had to get the most out of our experience. One of the best activities we did was actually the very first one. We each packed a lunch and went to the train station to share a lunch with someone who looked like they could use the company. Two other girls and I decided we would walk together, and we met some wonderful people by simply offering them lunch and company. These were people who lived off the street and as we joined them in conversation they were genuinely caught off guard that we were talking to them and treating them like real people. I took time to think about our conversations and realized that it didn’t matter what we were talking about, it just mattered that we approached them and got the opportunity to speak with them. Even though talking with them made my day so much better, I know they appreciated the company even more.

34291765932_c3b2b18d5a_oWe also had the opportunity to help at a food kitchen that served breakfast to the homeless community every morning. I met a beautiful soul named Tony who had so much friendly energy—he could put a smile on any face. I got the opportunity to share a meal with him as he willingly opened up to me about some pretty serious things. He told me about his sobriety from heroine, his illnesses, about his kids who he doesn’t get to see often, and his relationship with God. He really opened my eyes to what matters the most in life and what really doesn’t. His positive attitude helped me see that nothing is so bad if you can take it and turn it into a positive. I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to meet him and get to talk to him even for a short period. Meeting Tony is something that I’ll never forget.34409747246_2eb3eea9b8_o

I had so many life-changing experiences while in D.C. for one week than I’ve had in my entire life. I built friendships with people who believe in the same things I do and some of them who don’t, and I got to make connections with people who I never would have known. I got to see the beauty of D.C. and I got to strengthen my relationship with God.

So stepping out of what’s comfortable, meeting a group of strangers, traveling to a new place, talking to the homeless, serving in new ways…well, it’s worth it and you should try it too.

Called to be a Light

By: Alexander Dungan, Sophomore


I would like to think that my faith in God has only grown stronger over the past years. Unfortunately, I can’t always say the same about my faith in Christians. I grew up with the church as a second home but, nowadays, I hear so many stories in the media about ways in which the church is hurting people in our world.

Then comes along a conference like Imagine What’s Next 2016.

13718574_1292801030744970_5593908471131663083_nWhen we first walked through the doors, Shane Claiborne (future Lux Veritas speaker) was already part way through his presentation. He talked about religious freedom. He talked about the Mexican border wall. He talked about people going to jail. And what he said reminded me just what exactly the church was meant to do.

Instead of using religious freedom to advocate for legalized discrimination, Shane talked about invoking religious freedom to serve communion to the homeless even though sharing food was against the city laws. The communion bread eventually turned into pizza but it was still the body of Christ, right?

Instead of using the border wall as a means of division, Shane talked about how there was an organized event where people would gather together from both sides of the wall and sing worship songs. They served communion too, chucking pieces of bread over the wall.

When there were no public bathrooms and homeless people were arrested if they went outside, Shane and his group marched with toilet seats around their necks and signs reading “Pee for Free with Dignity.” The also hung banners outside of a vacant church that homeless people weren’t allowed to sleep in that said “How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and turn one away on Monday?”

14915472_1414496948575377_2418179836187110746_n

He also told a story about a nun he looked up to as a mentor. After hearing her “final goodbyes” when she was sick, he called to see how she was doing. Apparently, this old nun had gotten better and even gotten arrested for activism a few days earlier.

I have to admit that I wasn’t at that conference for more than 15 minutes before I was subtly trying to hold back tears. It was amazing to be able to hear all of these stories of people breaking the law and getting arrested and wearing bathroom products in the name of Jesus. That’s what the church was called to do: help people by being a pesky nuisance to those in charge. From my time at North Central, I have learned to respond to stories of people getting arrested with “Wow! That’s awesome!” rather than “Oh, I’m sorry.” I also learned just what ministry can be. I knew puppets and Sign Language and marital arts could be used for ministry but I never thought of sculpting, or drawing in sand, or Scrabble, or bird poop could be used for such amazing purposes. People who say that their gifts can’t be used for ministry no longer have any excuse.

Throughout the conference, I heard so many amazing stories of the wonderful things the church has done and can do. At the Center for Civil and Human Rights, I got to have discussions that so many people try to avoid and it was spectacular.fb_img_1479224839700 I even made a few friends on my own which is not easy for me to do in less than a year. Surrounded by weirdo, social justice warring, Jesus freaks, I felt like I didn’t need to be cautious when approaching people. I even took a selfie with some random guy because I liked his shirt! It was different than the usual. I mean there was a Ferris wheel, and polar bears, and Olympic-themed parks, and unlimited foreign soda but I still felt as comfortable as I did at home.

Overall, I think that if I can take one thing (because there are really millions) away from this conference and North Central in general, it would be that I am not called to be a silent church-goer. I am called to make noise. I am called to get in people’s way. I am called to get arrested like a crazy, old nun. I’m not just called to be; I’m called to be a light, an annoying, imposing, purple strobe light, but a light nonetheless.

Lux Veritas, Bishop Sally Dyck

By: Eric Doolittle, College Chaplain


SERVICE IMMERSION TRIP(5)

Bishop Sally Dyck, ecclesial leader of the United Methodist Church in the Northern Illinois Conference, was our guest speaker for the Spring 2016 Lux Veritas Speaker Series. She explored the topics of faith, science and environmental stewardship. Bishop Dyck encourages people to love God with their whole selves, to practice daily spiritual disciplines, and to share God’s love with others. Her 2010 book, “A Hopeful Earth: Faith, Science, and the Message of Jesus,” bridges the gap between Jesus and the environment and shows that living as good stewards of God’s creation is a significant component of what it means to follow Jesus. It was a pleasure having her on our campus.