New ASC Chaplain: Megan Armentrout

Megan Armentrout shares her thoughts and vision as serving George Fox University’s 2013-14 ASC Chaplain.

Q: What made you want to run/apply for ASC Chaplain?

A: I love seeing students stepping up to serve their peers and I want to be a part of that as well. I want to be a servant to the students here at Fox. I have been blessed by this rich community and my only response is to pour that blessing out to others in hopes that students leave Fox knowing that they were invested in and were loved.

Q: What’s your vision for spiritual life on campus?

A: I want to seek the Kingdom of God full-heartedly and partner in what the Spirit is already doing on this campus. I believe that God is up to something huge and He is calling out to those who will listen. My vision is to see the students and faculty of George Fox University so deeply committed to the work of Christ that they will stop at nothing to usher in the Kingdom and embrace the hope and prayer of ‘Let your Kingdom come & Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Q: What sort of things are you planning to do this year?

A: As we all know, the Chapel requirements have changed, but that does not mean that the spiritual community on this campus will change. I hope to have a partnership with both Spiritual Life and ASC in fostering the spiritual growth at Fox through the different ministry opportunities available to students. I am hoping that the efforts of Shalom and Greenroom will stay in effect next year and that the students will still have a place to offer their gifts and talents in various ways.

Q: What is something that you see God doing on campus or something that you’re praying for God to do on GFU campus this year?

A: God is stirring the deep need for prayer in the hearts of His people. Last year many people caught that vision and I believe that it will continue for years to come. Prayer is essential in our walk with God, not only individually but also as a community. I am praying that God will awaken our hearts to earnestly seek Him and that we will no longer be satisfied with going through the motions.

 

2013-14 Chaplains Share Their Vision

Two of our 2013-14 Chaplains, Tim Almquist and Shekinah Davis, shared some of their thoughts and their vision for the spiritual community on campus this year.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about being a Chaplain?

Tim: Besides getting to go on that float about thing, I’m very excited to get to work alongside a group of passionate individuals who care deeply about the spiritual vitality of the George Fox Community and the greater human community beyond our campus.

Shekinah: I am looking forward to deep conversations about Jesus Christ. I look forward to praying with students and connecting on deeper levels. I look forward to fostering intentional community on campus.

Q: What is your vision for the spiritual life of GFU this year?

Tim: I hope we as a unique and diverse community called George Fox University think creatively about how our everyday experiences involve a revelation of the Holy Spirit.

I desire that we would not trend towards a compartmentalized way of practicing faith in which our spiritual thinking is merely done at organized chapel events or our worship happens only to Phil Wickham songs.

I’m inspired when I read the words of Frederick Buechner in his book Telling Secrets. He says, “The Exodus, the Covenant, the entry into the Promised Land—such mighty acts of God as these appear in Scripture, but no less mighty are the acts of God as they appear in our own lives.”

May we be an inclusive people who take seriously the power of a grace giving God in our 21st century lives, letting his redemptive activity transcend all that we do and say.

Shekinah: My vision is that rather than SpiL being this house on the outskirts of campus/on Meridian Street, that it will be a dwelling place for broken spirits and students needing someone to confide in and pray with. SpiL has done amazing things on campus and I look forward to seeing the things that God will do this year.

Q: What is something that you see God doing on our campus or something that you are praying for Him to do?

Tim: Our community (students, faculty and administration) at Fox has such a special opportunity as I have noticed myself, to be about right relationships with people very different from one another. Because of our size and unique intentionality, we can get to know each other and learn from one another despite, for example, our differing tastes of music, ethnicities, academic directions, political opinions or theological beliefs. My prayer is that we would continue to keep relationships no matter how different we are. I have a feeling the kingdom of God is not a separating one.

Shekinah: I see conversations being started, about race, immigration, relationships, and that’s amazing. I think that God works best when we are able to dialogue about the things that trouble us or even interest us. I am praying that God will just restore the joy of His salvation all across campus. That he will reign down and fill Fox with his presence and that he will make us a community that is ‘naked and unashamed’!

Author Rachel Held Evans on writing and criticism

Author and blogger Rachel Held Evans visited George Fox University March 12 and 13. She took time to speak and engage with the campus and answered some questions from the GFU student body.

Q: Advice for budding writers?

A: Budding writers! Just read a lot, that’s really important. Read everything; read the back of cereal boxes in the morning, read the newspaper, read your textbook… because you have to; read for fun, read fiction, read nonfiction, just soak it all in because there’s no experience in that way that will not be helpful for you.

Try to get a diversity of, as your practicing your writing, try to write some journalism, write for the student newspaper, but also write fiction, also write poetry. All of those will help you in whatever field you settle on. They’ll help make you a better writer.

Q: How do you get over writer’s block or find inspiration again when you’re in that time?

A: Oh gosh, I get that all the time. I call it brain constipation! Having a deadline helps, then I say ‘I can’t afford to have writer’s block anymore, because I’ve got a deadline!’ So, having some sort of really intense deadline helps.

One thing that also helps is, if this is just happening like one day, just take a break and unload the dishwasher, walk a dog or just do some mindless task. Sometimes just even taking a shower really helps. I really get all my great ideas in the shower! So just simple things, ‘I can’t seem to get anything down, I guess I’ll just go to the grocery store.’ And I’ll come back and I’ll be able to write again.

Another trick is to leave something kind of undone and pick it up the next morning. I used to always try, by the end of my writing day, to finish up the last paragraph of whatever I was working on or finish the chapter, finish the blog post. Now, I go ahead and start the next thing and leave it undone so that when I sit down the next morning, I have to finish and it gets me right into it. Because staring at a blank page is the worst thing for writer’s block. But if there are already some words on the page that I’ve started, getting into it is a lot easier. So you’ve got to like trick your brain into getting into a project by simply starting.

As far as like big time writer’s block when I don’t really know what book I want to write next or I don’t know what I want to do with my career next, just taking a lot of time off and spending time with family and friends and traveling, going somewhere, just doing something other than my work.

Q: Since you’ve had public criticism, do you find that the way that you give criticism has changed?

A: Yes! And this is something that’s been really interesting. I didn’t really realize I was doing this to people until they started doing it to me. There’s this tendency when you start to get more popular and people are reading you and you start to develop something of a reputation, for people to treat you as this caricature. And I would go on these blogs where people were talking about me like I was something other than a human being. It was weird and kind of disconcerting and just this almost cartoonish image of this angry, snarky, hateful woman that I really just don’t think that I am.

When I saw how that was being done to me, I realized how I had been doing that to other public figures, particularly in Christianity, certain pastors and leaders that I had been critical of and I’d think they do and say things that are worthy of criticism. In my response to them I had treated them as their caricature, as their brand. I had kind of fed into that, sort of a mocking spirit of people.

I had this idea that they were immune. The really powerful guys, they’re immune to criticism! I can make fun of them all I want. We sort of think of them as we sort of think about the president. You know? Obviously we can satirize him because he’s the most powerful man in the word. I was treating my brothers and sisters in Christ that way. I didn’t really realize I was doing it until people started doing it to me.

So, now I’m still critical of people or at least of their material, but I really try to focus on what they said. I try to offer a response that I think is an alternative and not focus so much on personality. Because it’s not really about them, it’s about what they have to say and I want to address what they have to say and not rake them over the coals at a personal level. Because I’m realizing now that those are my feelings too! If it hurts me, it probably can hurt them too.

They’re not immune. We have this idea that certain people, certain pastors or leaders or public figures are immune to criticism and they’re not. Or immune to hate and they’re not. And thinking of them as human beings has really helped.

Jamie Johnson and Steve Sherwood’s take on Lent

Professor Steve Sherwood and Assistant Pastor Jamie Johnson share some of their thoughts on the the season of Lent and the importance it holds for them.

Q: What significance does Lent hold for you?

Jamie: I grew up in the Quaker church, and I do not have a single memory of ever talking about Lent or even knowing what it was. In Seminary, we attended an Episcopal church, and I was introduced to liturgy for the first time ever – it was beautiful! It was here I was introduced to this idea of Lent, and though I though it was a cool idea, I thought it was too much like I was giving up something just to show how disciplined (or not!) I could be.

But as I have come to learn more about it, and have tried to incorporate spiritual disciplines in my life more regularly, I am learning the significance of it for the Christian community and for me. For me it is about recognizing my need for Jesus, something I too easily neglect. If I give up something like Facebook, then every time I find myself wanting to log on to Facebook (which is often!) I am reminded, during this season, that I need Jesus. Anything that reminds me of my need for Jesus is a good thing worth practicing, in my opinion!

Steve: Starting with an Ash Wednesday service put on at my very Protestant, very conservative Christian college 30 years ago, Lent has come to be very important to me. The idea that Good Friday/Easter takes on more significance if we spend significant time in the weeks before considering our brokenness and need for the cross and resurrection really resonates with me.

I don’t think there is anything magical that happens in “giving something up for lent,” but in doing something difficult, giving something up that daily I crave (candy, ice cream, diet coke, the internet, whatever it is that year) serves as a daily reminder of my weakness and need for Jesus.

Q: What is the importance of Lent?

Jamie: Lent reminds us of our need for Jesus, plain and simple. And when the community joins in and we all express our need for Jesus, it is an even more beautiful thing. It also connects us to the past and places us in a broader conversation – this is not something we are making up, but something that followers of Jesus have been doing for centuries.

Steve: Most Protestants, except for Anglicans and Lutherans, I suspect, don’t grow up with much appreciation for the rhythms of the Christian Year (Advent, Christmas, Lent, etc.). Before the Reformation, and before most people could read, most Christian instruction had a more symbolic, repetitive rhythm to it.

I don’t think Christians need to feel like they must participate in the annual seasons of Advent, or Lent, but I think we miss out on profound ways God can speak to us if we never participate in them. Also, personally, I find real beauty in taking part in practices that Christians have been doing for almost 2000 years.

Q:  Lent is commonly associated with Catholicism. Why should Protestant Christians practice Lent?

Jamie: The short answer is, we all need to be reminded of our need for Jesus, and one of the best ways to do that is to either remove some creature comfort from our life or add in some type of spiritual discipline or practice to get beyond ourselves.

Let’s not forget – the earliest Christians were catholic – and the Christian church for around 1,000 years was Catholic. So these “Catholic” practices are not anti-Christian, but a part of the larger story of how God has moved in the world and is moving in the world. I generally believe that practices which unite us to other Christ-followers throughout the world ought to be practiced in some form or another.

Steve: Why should Protestants participate in Lent? If Lent is a season that has helped form and shape Christians for literally millennia, why would we not want to participate in it? Our brothers and sisters in the Catholic church certainly aren’t perfect, and we shouldn’t feel like Protestants need to emulate everything in Catholic practice, but, I believe Protestants do themselves a huge disservice when they distance themselves from all kinds of beautiful faith practices because ‘those are things Catholics do.’

 

 

Week of Prayer

Students Josh Reidel, Mary Owen, and Gavin Bennett share their visions for the 2013 Week of Prayer.

Q: What is the purpose for a designated Week of Prayer?

Gavin: The purpose is to, as a community, invite the Spirit to move on our campus and in our city and to enter into the work that God is already doing. I believe that it is in the fabric of our being to talk with God. Prayer is not only a spiritual practice, but also a weapon against the forces of very real darkness.

God has invited us to partner with Him. He hears our prayers and loves to respond. To pray “in Jesus name” is not to tack a cute phrase to the end of our prayer, but to pray in line with His will. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” The implications to this is that God’s will is not being done. All one has to do is bring up the very real atrocities of rape, war, divorce, sexual immorality, child soldiers, sex trafficking, loneliness, suicide, and any other current event to see this fact.

Prayer is a foundational way by which we can engage these tragedies. If we believe that our God is who He says (a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands of generations, forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin, yet who does not let the guilty go unpunished) then His desire is to answer our prayers for justice and light. Prayer is not our gift to God as much as it is God’s gift to us.

Josh: This may sound simple and silly but the purpose is to get people to pray. I believe God moves when his people pray and simply ask him to show up on his terms. It can get kind of confusing with the whole God’s sovereignty and us trying to figure it out and prayer can get somewhat discouraging or begin to seem pointless.

But I think if we really look through scripture when we see God’s people, in both the Old and New Testament, asking God to simply show up on his own terms and rescue us from ourselves He does and it is powerful. I think when we gather as a community to pray it is not to get God to do what we want, but to align ourselves with what God is already doing and simply have the boldness get on board with that and bring glory to Jesus.

It is easy when we are at college to get caught up in ourselves and be so concerned with our future, our relationships, our homework, that we forget the reason we are here and alive in the first place is to declare the goodness of God and bring glory to Jesus in every aspect of our lives. So above all I think I want us to gather and to pray to remember that this whole thing called life is not about us and our own desires and callings, but about pointing to how good Jesus is every moment of every day.

Mary: The week of prayer is a recognition of our desperate need for God’s Spirit to work in our hearts, our campus, and our nation. In the Bible and in history, we see that God works powerfully when His people come together in unity and pray. By coming together as a body, we are recognizing that we are a community of faith (not solo Christians) and that our impact in this world begins with humility before God.

It is only by His Spirit that God will bring about change in His Church and in the world. By setting aside an entire week, we are opening our invitation to students with differing schedules and demands on their time. Everyone can take one hour or two out of a week and set it aside for prayer. Our hope is that many will respond to this opportunity to come before God as a community and intercede for each other, our university, and our world.

Q: Are there any specific areas students can be praying for?

Gavin: Yes, so many. Besides all the areas in which God’s will is not being done (that we need to be praying for), which I mentioned in answer to the first question, there is a real heaviness during this time in the year. Schedules become routines and we slip into a rut of tiredness. It can be a season of burnout. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and apathy are very real and present. Also, there is a lot going on among the lives of students outside of school. Families are going through a lot (divorce, poverty, crime, etc.), but school goes on. This can add to the already heavy load we have. We pray for strength, wisdom, and mercy. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come and will to be done in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Josh: The emphasis I suppose is our own campus and lifting up other students, staff, faculty, etc. in prayer. But really whatever the Lord lays on our hearts as we gather should be prayed for. Like I said above I think prayer is more to align ourselves with what Jesus is already doing and really get us to realize this whole thing is not about us, but Him. So students can be praying for whatever is on their hearts.

Mary: We are praying for our friends and families, for this campus, and for the work of the Kingdom throughout the world. For every student this may mean different points of intercession.

Q: What is the benefit to having the student body come together to pray this week?

Gavin: There is a great benefit to gathering together. Jesus tells us, in Matthew 18:20 that “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Prayer should not only be a personal movement, but belongs too in the community setting. When we come before the Lord together we are on common ground, recognizing our own insufficiency and begging His presence.

When He meets us, we cannot be unchanged. In community prayer there is space to be encouraged and inspired by the prayers of others. I believe that God hears our prayers and cannot wait to answer them. Praying in public can be awkward for some people, but there is no pressure to say the right words or phrases. We just want to have a conversation with God. God is not a cosmic vending machine which the right code or big words gets a ‘yes’. God is a loving Father who loves to hear His children speak. Like a parent who listens to his or her babbling toddler, God does not patronize us or refuse to listen. He loves to hear and help. We pray to a God who can change reality. This is no small deal.

Josh: I think at this time of the semester we all get really stressed and honesty consumed with ourselves and what we need to get done. I am as much to blame as anyone else and honestly these last few weeks I have been consumed with myself. But when we pray for others and ask Jesus to show us what he is doing and to get on board with that we can’t help but lift our eyes way from ourselves and focus on others and above all Jesus. I have found that no matter how busy I am when I realize I truly am not the center of the universe life becomes way less stressful and I am filled with joy, and I think prayer is one of the best ways to remind ourselves that what we do, including homework, tests, and annoying group projects, are for Jesus above all.

Mary: When God’s people pray, He listens and responds. This is why we are gathering together, because right now and always, our campus and our world need his Holy Spirit.

Relationship Focus Week Speaker Mark McMinn: Enduring Grace

Professor of Psychology Mark McMinn is the featured chapel speaker during Relationship Focus Week. He covers the pains of divorce and what it takes to cultivate a loving, gracious and lasting marriage.

Q: What are some of the main ideas you are going to be sharing with the student body?

A: I was asked to speak on the topic of divorce, which is quite a challenge. So, what I did was I announced it in one of my classes last semester; these are doctoral students, people who have done well in life. And I said, ‘Would any of you who come from families where your parents were divorced be willing to talk to me and tell me some about your story?’ And a whole bunch of them said yes!

Q: What are some of the things as you’ve been talking and preparing that stood out to you or maybe you didn’t know before?

A: There’s incredible pain. I think of it as layer after layer of pain. My parents were divorced, but I was 35 at the time, so that’s why I wanted to talk to students because I don’t feel like that’s very often the case. Usually when people are divorced their kids are much younger.

So, I’d hear stories of people who were 10 or 12 when their parents got divorced and just when they thought they had sort of gotten over the pain, some other layer emerges. So, I want to get that across in chapel. Not only the intensity of pain, but the repetitiveness of pain.

The other thing that was interesting is that there are no two stories that are alike. There’s nothing standard about it. One of the people I interviewed reminded me that Tolstoy’s first line in Anna Karenina is, ‘Happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ And that’s really true, there are just so many different stories.

So, then after exploring the contours of some of the pain I’ve heard, I’m going to talk about a story that wounds and a story that heals. Ultimately the story that wounds is the story of every romantic comedy. It puts you in this place, especially as college students, where you have all this pressure to decide.

Well, let me back up for a second. One of the sources of pain is this fear of marriage. ‘What if I get into a relationship that’s going to be just like my parents?’ And so the romantic comedy story puts you in a place where you have to make this decision at some point in your twenties presumably or your thirties, and you decide, ‘Who am I going to be with for the rest of my life?’

And if you make the decision really well then you’ll live happily ever after and if you don’t then you’re just going to be miserable and in pain the rest of your life. Lots of movies and lots of television tells us that story.

So, I want to contrast that with what I think is really the Christian story, which is the story of, what I’m going to call enduring grace. The idea that we get into relationships and that it’s a crucible, it’s an opportunity to understand what it means to live with another person. To struggle at times, yes, but to forgive and to move back into a place of joy and abiding love with the other person.

The journey is maybe bumpy, but it’s always this expression of Christ’s love for us. The passage I’m using is in Romans 15:7, which is, ‘Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.’ Paul’s saying an amazing thing there. What does a relationship look like if you can really pull that off?

So, that’s the story of enduring grace that I think is actually much more hopeful and much more redemptive than the one that we get in the happily-ever-after-romantic-comedy story we expose ourselves to.

 

 

 

Onjalai Flake as Dating Game Host

Senior Onjalai Flake hosted the 2013 George Fox University Dating Game and shined with energy and humor! Here’s a sneak peak into her experience hosting.

Q: Were you nervous to be the host for such a large event?

A: Regardless of the crowd size, I am always nervous. In all I do I want to positively reflect God’s gifts that He has given me. When I start getting cocky, that’s when I am relying on my own ability and not his working through me.

Q: You seemed so natural and comfortable on stage. Is being in front of a crowd something that you enjoy?

A:  I love being in front of a crowd. The only way I can explain it is that I come alive. This is definitely something I have a passion for, whether it’s speaking at conferences, hosting my own show, or hosting events. I love it!

Q: What were some of your highlights from the Dating Game?

A: I personally loved the couple game. I thought it was cool that the married couple won. It almost showed that it only gets better with time. Also, during the Bachelorette portion of the dating game it was great to see the audience react to the responses that the male contestants were giving. Tracy Berg and I couldn’t see anything because of the curtain, but the audience’s faces were enough. I personally feed off of the energy of the crowd and Fox was on fire that night.

Q: Any favorite questions asked or answers that were given?

A: One of my favorite answers came from the Bachelor portion of the dating game. When Marcus Gabriel Jr. asked the female contestants what they would do with him if he was a dog, contestant number three answered “Take you to Petco!” I just couldn’t stop laughing. Such a great response to a kind of crazy question.

Q: What did you think of the Bachelor/Bachelorette and the contestants they picked for their dates? Good matches?

A: I thought it was very interesting that both the Bachelorette/Bachelor went with the audience selection. I wonder if they would have chosen differently on their own. I also think that they all will enjoy themselves on their group date on the Portland Spirit. Fun times had by all.

Urbana Re-Cap with Amberly Vincent

tumblr_mfr1uxyB5k1s1c4sfo1_1280I sat down with junior Amberly Vincent to talk about her experience and time at the 2012 Urbana Conference she and a team of George Fox students attended.

Q: What’s your major?

A: I’m a Christian Ministries major with an emphasis in Missions and I’m thinking about also adding Youth Ministry.

Q: So when was Urbana?

A: Urbana was Dec. 27 – Jan. 1.

Q: What made you want to go?

A: I first heard about Urbana from Andrea Crenshaw or Andrea MacCloud. She used to work here in the Spiritual Life office. That’s when I first heard about it and I knew that it was a conference that only happened every three years. So, one day I ran into Gavin Bennett and he told me that he was trying to put a team from Fox together and asked me if I was interested in going and I just knew that I was instantly interested. So I said yes. Just hearing about it from Andrea and also looking on the website, like years back and just thought that it would be a really neat opportunity if I was ever able to go and so when the opportunity came along I couldn’t say no.

Q: So tell me a little bit, just a brief summary of what Urbana is.

A: It is a really big missions conference. Both global and domestic missions are emphasized. There are sessions that have these keynote speakers that are in the mornings and in the evenings. Every morning you do inductive Bible studies with smaller groups of people. The conference has 16,000 people that usually come from all over the world, and so for inductive Bible studies they split you up into smaller groups of like 150-200 [people].

Every conference they study a different book and this year we studied the book of Luke all together. And then we would go into a morning session and continue that study all together, all 16,000 of us. Then we’d break for lunch. In the afternoon we had opportunities to go to these different breakout sessions where they had speakers from all of these different kinds of organizations that were represented in the exhibit hall. There was like over 250 organizations represented. So, there were breakout sessions and also the exhibit hall was open in the afternoon time where we could go and talk to any kind of missions organization that you can imagine. Then in the evenings they would feed us all dinner that was like on a different rotation schedule, which was actually pretty amazing, because feeding 16,000 people dinner is insane.tumblr_mfx99lg8gw1s1c4sfo1_1280

And then we would all get back together for an evening session where there would be a keynote speaker. And actually one of the coolest parts was one evening during the session instead of having a speaker, World Vision set up this huge packing station where we were able to pack 32,000 care giving kits for caregivers, mostly in the country of Swaziland. That was a really cool thing to be able to be a part of. So that was like the basic layout of the five days that we were there. And there’s worship and we got to worship in bunch of different languages.

Q: Do you remember what kind of languages?

A: We learned a Hindi song, a song in Swazi. We would do different rounds in French, Spanish and I think Korean and Swazi.

Q: How many George Fox students attended Urbana?

A: There were eight of us.

Q: Who was on the team that went?

A: Gavin Bennett, Megan Armentrout, Nick Largusa, Piper Wise, Miranda D’Agostini, Roy Abdun-Nur, Austin Strutz, and me.

Q: How was that going with that group? Did you guys build strong community?

A: Gavin and Piper Wise kind of put feelers out to different people and then we all came together, four guys and four girls. And so before we went to Urbana we tried to meet once a week intentionally and talk about what our hopes were and pray over our trip and raise money for our trip and figure out ways to raise money for our trip. And we spent a lot of time fundraising, so we already had a little bit of community established before we went. But then in the evenings, because we would be together for all of the main sessions, but we’d go to different breakout sessions, but then in the late evening we would all come together for this thing called a Roommate Huddle. We would debrief about our day and talk about the cool things we saw and how we saw the Lord moving in our lives. So I feel really close to them.

Q: What were some of your expectations going into Urbana?

A: So I went in kind of expecting that God was going to teach me or show me one specific area of mission that He wanted me to focus on and that definitely did not happen at all. But I realized that… a lot of the speakers were talking about how we can’t just think of mission as something that we “go on”, but something that we get to every day be invited to be a part of. And if we just look at our lives as a mission, that’s what God is calling us to do. So, I thought that was really interesting because so often I just think about, ‘Oh! When I do get to be a missionary.’ But you can be a missionary wherever you are. I know that gets said a lot but I think just fully realizing that and being at a global missions conference was one of the big things that I got out of it.

Q: Do you do anything around campus or around the area that feeds your passion for mission work?

A: Yeah! My freshman year I did Urban Serve when I could, which I’ve kind of fallen out of which is unfortunate. But I think just being in missions classes in general, being surrounded by missions minded people gets me excited about that happening. And having Sarita Gallagher as a teacher just gets me excited about mission! So even though I’m not necessarily involved with global missions at Fox, I think the positions that I’m in, like being an RA and working for SpiL, help me to bring mission to this campus and be on mission to this campus.

Q: What would you say to somebody who was thinking about going the next time it comes around, or if they weren’t sure if they wanted to go? Any advice?

A: I honestly would recommend this conference to anybody, not just necessarily those who want to pursue mission, just because there were so many options. And I think that God has called everybody to missions to some degree. Just being a Christian you’re called to serve to some degree, so I think that Urbana isn’t just a global missions conference and it’s not just for people who want to go overseas, it could be for anybody.

tumblr_mfyr9eMXUF1s1c4sfo1_1280Q: Speaking to George Fox students on campus who maybe can’t go overseas or can’t be involved in something like that, how would you give somebody advice to how they could be living a life of mission while they’re here going to school?

A: Well I think just thinking about the gifts and talents that God’s blessed you with and finding where they may fit, whether that may be participating in Urban Serve or James Project or signing up to go on a domestic serve trip. Spring serve and Winter serve offer those kinds of opportunities. Maybe God’s blessed them with leadership desires and they could apply to be an RA or serve with ASC. All those kinds of things are pursuing mission. Any sort of thing that’s helping people and showing people the love of God and attempting to expand His kingdom are all missions.

Q: What are your biggest takeaways or highlights from Urbana? 

A: I think the biggest things were feeling empowered because I’ve never been around so many missions minded people and heard so many incredible stories of the work that God is doing through people in the world. For me the biggest thing was feeling empowered by people’s stories and also just realizing how good George Fox is at equipping people to be involved in not only global mission, but everyday mission. Just realizing the kinds of opportunities that we’re blessed with by going to this school, because not every school has these opportunities.

Q: Is there anything else that you thought of while we were talking that you wanted to mention?

A: Well, if you wanted to know more about our trip you can go to our blog which is: gfuurbana12.tumblr.com.

 

 

Trinya Murray: Lead in Upcoming GFU Winter Drama

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Lights, camera, action! I sat down with Trinya Murray, current George Fox University transfer student, to talk about her experience of receiving the lead role in the upcoming winter drama, Mrs. Packard.

Q: What’s your major?

A: Theatre.

Q: So tell me some of your hobbies. What do you like to do?

A: Sing; I play piano; I’ve recently gotten into the horrible self-destructive habit of playing video games for hours at a time, which is not conducive to anything except mindless entertainment. (Laughs)

Q: How long have you been in George Fox’s theatre program?

A: Since “Mrs. Packard” started, I guess. I’ve been working in the theater offices since I got here, but as far as being involved, the only thing I really did was strike the set for “Servant of Two Masters” and that was after auditions had already happened. So, we already knew who had been cast as what, but this is my first experience with George Fox Theatre.

Q: So you, I understand, are a transfer student and you’re already the lead in the play. How does that feel? How’d that come about? That’s pretty significant.

A: Mind-blowing. The audition was kind of a last minute decision. I was having kind of a crisis with my major and my life and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was a last minute decision because I thought it would be a good way to meet people. Even if I didn’t get cast I could at least be part of it somehow, and it would be a really good way to just get to know people and get myself involved somehow.

Then the casting sheet went up and it didn’t sink in. My roommate was with me and she looked at it for me because I didn’t want to look at it. And she looked at and started freaking out and I was like, ‘You better not be kidding right now.’ And I didn’t believe it. I had to go back and look at it like five or six times and I still didn’t believe it. Then Rhett came and found me and was like, ‘Congratulations!’ and I was like ‘Ah! This is real life!’ So it was very exciting and kind of terrifying, because you know, just new kid, like I didn’t know anybody except for people that I had met at auditions and all of the sudden it’s this huge thing!

Q: So, what draws you to acting, singing, and theater in general?

A: Everyone’s wired differently. And for a lot of people, I’d say for the majority of people, they enjoy watching something and hearing the story, and being affected that way. I enjoy that, but I much prefer to be telling the story.

It’s complicated because there are times when it’s really difficult to open yourself up that much, but theatre is opening yourself up to something that maybe you would never experience and feeling it and sharing that with people through the guise of somebody else.

So, it’s really fascinating to be able to get in front of people and be at a combination of, ‘This isn’t me, but I am telling you this story and I am feeling this and I want to share it with you.’ Without it really, usually at least, being something that will emotionally scar you for life, you know? Because there are hard shows, I mean I did a show about eating disorders. I’ve never had an eating disorder, but to be able to share that and leave that message with people was very emotionally trying for everyone who was involved with it. But at the same time, you know, we weren’t super emotionally scarred by it or anything.

Q: Do you have any influences? People who you look up to or admire in the theatre world?

A: In the theatre world, yes.

Q: Who are your influences? What continues to inspire you to be ‘Trinya’?

A: It’s a combination of everything, and I think that’s true for everybody but a lot of people don’t take the time to notice it. You learn from everyone you come in contact with and you grow and you adapt because of everyone. So, where I am now is a combination of experiences in the past, and experiences that I’m still having and I don’t think anyone ever really stops growing. But as far as people that have influenced me in my personal life, parents and friends, you know, just people that make you who you are.

As far as like professional role models, there are several. And this is a really stupid teenage girl answer, but Johnny Depp. Because, and I know it’s going to be like, ‘Because he’s gorgeous!’ (he is, yes!), but because Johnny Depp is one of the first actors that I really remember. I watched something and I really liked it and I wanted to figure out why I liked it and what it was about him that made me want to see more of what he was doing. And I finally figured out a couple years later, that because no matter what character he was playing, there were elements of himself, but the characters were all different.

Q: Do you have any funny theatre stories about yourself that you’d like to share?

A: (laughs) Yes. The second show I ever did was a one-act version of “The Tempest” which is a mistake in and of itself. I was thirteen years old and our theatre department had no budget at my high school, so we had to build everything ourselves. So our set was a bunch of flats pushed together. Flats are essentially a wooden frame with a thinner piece of wood that you paint and that makes your set. And it’s held up with these wooden braces. So we had a bunch of those pushed together, but you can’t completely fit them together because we made them wrong.

And I had been cast as like four different characters. So they filmed the performance and I’m like, ‘Yay! That went great!’ And we sit down and we’re watching the performance in class the next day to, you know, what can we learn from it? Yada, yada, yada! And you can see straight through the crack in two of these flats! You can see me changing my costume! (laughing) I mean I had something on underneath it, so it wasn’t like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m naked!’ But my director is looking at the film and she just goes, ‘What are you doing?’ And I was like, ‘I was changing.’ And she was like, ‘So the whole audience could see this?’ And I was like, ‘I would assume so.’ And then we watched the tape again and you can hear people like giggling a little bit at that part and it wasn’t a funny part of the show, so we’re all like, ‘What’s going on?’ And it was because you could see me putting on a new dress.

Q: When you’re on stage acting or you’re in the moment, what are you thinking? What are you feeling? What is going through your mind… besides the lines?

A: Besides the lines, this is one of the biggest struggles that I personally have with acting, is that it’s acting and reacting. For it to be honest and real you really have to listen.  It’s not so much about, ‘I feel like I need to be doing this right now or this is what I am supposed to be doing right now.’ We are given lines to say and we are given places to be, but the rest of it is really acting and reacting. It’s something that I’m still learning and still getting used to because it’s really hard especially to open yourself up to that level of feeling.

You have to listen to what the other actor is giving you because there are instances in the show, tons of times, where we will run it once and be yelling at each other and we’ll be so mad and just yelling at each other and just screaming and you know like holding onto each other really tight, trying to you know, ‘I’m angry. I need to get this message through to you.’ And then we’ll do it another time and somebody will switch something ever so slightly, where it’ll be, ‘I don’t have a reason to be mad at you anymore, but I need you to listen to me.’ So it’ll be completely different. So instead of yelling at each other or whatever, it’ll get like really soft and like, ‘No, please listen to me.’ You know, and it’s really just a combination of listening to what you’re hearing and making other people listen to you. Especially with this show. It’s all the motivations that we have and stuff.

Q: Tell me a little bit about Mrs. Packard.

A: Mrs. Packard is based on a true story. It’s a historical drama. In the mid 1800’s a law was passed in Illinois that a man could commit his wife or child to an insane asylum without proof of insanity. The context that’s given with the law is in the script, so the context that’s given with the law is if the wife or child is distracted or disturbed. That was taken very, very literally because men had all the power at that point still.

So, this woman, Mrs. Packard, had been raised by a minister and married very young to a Calvinist minster. And this is years down the line from their marriage; they’ve been married 21 years, they have six kids, and she has started disagreeing with him theologically. She has started leaning more towards Christianity as opposed to Calvinism. So her husband considers this a mark of moral perversity and insanity.

And nobody is completely sane, that’s something that you learn from theater. Everyone’s a little crazy, but he puts her in an insane asylum against her will. He has her dragged out of their house and transported to an insane asylum so that she can be cured of this moral perversity and insanity.

It’s the story of her in the insane asylum, talking to the doctor and learning what is happening. She has lived a relatively safe life up until this point. She was well off, the wife of a minister, a mother. She was everything she was supposed to be, everything she was raised to be, and now she’s thrown into this world of complete horror, as far as she’s concerned, as far as anyone’s concerned once you’ve seen it.

But it’s the story of her trying to decide which convictions she’s willing to keep, what she’s willing to lose to get back to her children and get back to her family. While at the same time knowing that everything that’s happening around her is not just or right and trying to figure out how to adapt and assist in that situation.

Q: So you’ve been preparing for a long while, tell me a little bit about that.

A: Actually, this is funny; it feels like we’ve been preparing for a long time. We are in the fourth week of rehearsals. We had two weeks before Christmas break, and then we did a run and then we had four weeks off for Christmas break, and we’ve been back rehearsing for two weeks now. So yeah, we just finished our fourth week. As far as George Fox is concerned and where you should be able to, six weeks is a good amount of time to put up a show and get it ready.

Q: What do preparations and rehearsals look like? What does that entail?

A: We started off with table work, which is, we get all the actors that are needed for whatever scenes we’re going to be looking at that night and we all sat around a table and we just read through it together and we figured out a little bit of, ‘Why are we saying the things that we’re saying?’ Because we’re given the lines, but if you don’t know why you’re saying it then you shouldn’t be saying it. If there’s no reason then don’t say it.

So we sat down together and we figured out why we’re saying what we’re saying, what is motivating us out of other people’s lines to do the things we do. We just kind of got a grasp on the show and the story and everything like that and once we put it on its feet, we figured out basic blocking, which is movement on stage based on where furniture was going to be and how we needed to move in certain ways to make the situations work.

Now that we’re really full swing in rehearsals, we are going once scene at a time, four scenes a night, and we just spend our three and a half hours, depending on how long it goes over, running through those scenes and fixing all of the little details and making sure we’re where we need to be. We’re making sure that we’re being as honest as we can be. I’d say we’re less working on the technicalities of it and more making sure that we are reacting honestly.

Q: Is that a stressful workload on top of all of your school- work?

A: Yes and no. Rehearsals are always a total blast now that I know these people and they’re so great and fun to hang out with. It’s always fun no matter the situation that we’re working with. But it is hard, in that, we all have busy workloads on top of that, so rehearsals are kind of a nice break from all of that, but emotionally it is sometimes very trying. There are moments when it will just strike me, ‘This actually happened. Yes, I am portraying this, I am telling this story, but this actually happened to somebody.’ And just how unfair that is and it’s really hard, I’m still having trouble with it, but it’s getting easier, it’s really hard opening up especially for this show, to this level.

With every character you open yourself up to it, but with this one for it to be honest and real, we have to really open ourselves up to it because it is truth. It’s not a fiction that somebody has put down and said, ‘Now do this. React to this.’ It is true. So for it to be honest, we need to be honest. And that is sometimes very difficult, but it’s always nice to have the knowledge that at the end of the night we’re okay. Everything’s okay. We can hug each other and go back to our lives. These people couldn’t. At the end of the night, we get to leave the asylum and go back to our lives and they could not. They were there. And that’s hard sometimes.

Q: What makes it all worthwhile?

A: That it’s such a beautiful thing, being able to tell stories that this way. Because there’s such a difference in me sitting down and telling you, ‘Mrs. Packard was this woman. And this is what happened to her. And this is what was said and this is what was done.’ Then for you to be able to actually see it and me to be able to feel it. And it really helps you grow as a person and with yourself when you are able to feel these things, that like I said, you maybe never would’ve felt before. Because I’ve never been in an insane asylum and I have never had someone, that close like a husband. I’ve never had someone that I was that close to that I had shared my life with betray me deeply.

It really helps you grow as a person and learn things about yourself that you maybe didn’t know. To be able to share these stories this way. And I mean, you get great memories and friendships out of rehearsals because when you are in a situation where you have to open yourself up like this, there’s no way not become close with everybody involved. You have to become really close friends very quickly, which is fun.

Q: I can see just by talking to you that you’re so passionate about this. So what motivates you and inspires you to keep going in this passion that you have?

A: It’s the only thing I’ve ever done where I’m able to sit back and look at it and feel like it’s right. I mean, I’ve done a lot of stuff, I’ve had a lot of experiences, but theatre is the only thing that at the end of the day I want to be able to do. Honestly a lot of people hear things like that and they’re like, ‘Well you’re never going to make it. You know, you’re not going to be famous.’ I don’t care. I just want to tell stories. I don’t care if 20 years from now I’m working a standard office job and playing the bit parts at a local theatre. I just want to be able to share stories and share myself with people that way.

Q: If you were going to give some advice for people who are aspiring actresses/actors, for people who want to do what you’re doing, what would you say to them?

A: Don’t stop and take anything you are given. I know a lot of people who want to pursue theatre but they do the, ‘I auditioned for this show and I got offered ensemble, so I’m not going to do it.’ Then you don’t want to do theatre. Because if you really want to do theatre, you’ll take anything you’re given just to be part of it. And I know that’s easier said than done. If you want it, you have to work for it and that needs to be something that you’re willing to accept.

Q: What would you say to somebody who’s on the fence about coming to Mrs. Packard?

A: I would say, why? Why are you on the fence? And that sounds really cocky if you don’t know the context, but why are you on the fence? What are you scared of? Is there anything that you’re scared of? I don’t know why people would be on the fence about it. I would tell them that there is something for everybody. There is drama, history, it’s a true story, there’s theology, funny moments, a little bit of a romantic sub-text…it’s got everything! And if for no other reason than to support your classmates, why wouldn’t you come?

Q: Okay, just to finish up we’re going to do this fun little thing. Well, hopefully it’s fun. I’m going to give you a word and you’re going to tell me the first thing that pops into your mind!

A: My mind is a plethora of 80’s song lyrics, so this is going to go downhill really quickly.

Q: Backstage.

A: Giggles.

Q: Script.

A: Highlighter.

Q: Applause.

A: Bows.

Q: Lines.

A: Memory.

Q: Break a leg.

A: Literally. (Laughs)

Q: Call back.

A: Terrifying.

Q: Wardrobe:

A: Fun.

Q: Do you have any last, closing comments?

A: As far as the play’s concerned, I want people to be aware that we are doing talk back nights. For people that are on the fence about the show especially for emotional reasons or for being afraid of the intensity of it, the talk back nights would be a good night to come. We are going to have discussion with the audience about the show.

 

 

 

Female Chaplain Excited to Lead

You’ll never see her without a giant smile on her face. She embodies all that is pure joy. Her heart is buried so deep in Christ that you yourself have to dive in just to get a glimpse of the majesty she speaks of. Megan Armentrout, the only female student chaplain at George Fox University, is a woman on mission with something incredibly special to bring to campus this year.

Armentrout is one of the most fun-loving people on this campus. She practically screamed, “Penguin!” when asked what her favorite animal was. She is a die hard Pocahontas fan and enjoys gazing at the stars when she has down time. When she doesn’t have free time, she’s working away as one of the student chaplains.

When I sat down with Armentrout to talk about her journey as a spiritual life leader on campus, she described her job as, “Intense, exciting, spontaneous, life-giving, and thrilling.” She comes alive talking about her role as a chaplain and her passion for the students floods out of her.

She hopes for the hearts of the students to be open this year to the power of Jesus, and she hopes for a campus that has reached a pure “desperation for Christ to the point where we are waiting in expectation for Him to do something miraculous.”

When Armentrout first found out that she was going to be a chaplain she was overwhelmed with excitement. She recalls having a bit of fear, wondering if she would have a voice on a team that consisted of only men. She smiles now saying that the men she works with have become her brothers. She is completely welcomed and accepted within the team.

Armentrout was very quick to give credit away to her fellow teammates. She made it a special point to acknowledge that she appreciates her team immensely and loves serving with the men.

Armentrout’s journey to being a chaplain began all the way back to her teenage years when God was already doing something powerful in her heart. She grew up in a Christian home, but it was a place where Jesus was never really talked about.

When she was 15 years old, she was going through a time of struggle and depression in her life and she recalls “crying out to a God she didn’t even really know.” The day after she prayed this prayer, while at a concert at her church, a stranger came up to her and spoke back the prayer to her and affirmed her that God was working in her yet. At this point she couldn’t help but believe in and follow this God who had reached out to her so tangibly.

When Armentrout got to GFU she had never been in a leadership position before. Still, she decided to lead a small group on campus her sophomore year. A campus chaplain encouraged her to pick up an application and take a chance to apply for the position of chaplain the following year. So she did. And here she is today.

Armentrout is in the perfect place. She is in a position where she gets to constantly pour into the lives of other people, which is a passion of hers. Connecting with others, seeking out intentional community, and including those who tend to walk on the outside of the circles are some of Armentrout’s greatest strengths. She is eager to identify with and relate to people. She couldn’t emphasize enough how much she loves people and how she wants to make an impact bringing Jesus to the world.

The amazing thing about Armentrout is that she wants to continue learning and growing. Her biggest hope for the year is to learn how to “best show His love and grace” to the students and teachers of the GFU campus. She says she has had to “step away” from the viewpoint that she had to have her life in a perfect place before she could be an influence to other people.

Armentrout doesn’t try to pretend that she has all the answers. She recognizes that she and everyone else is still broken, but we can still encourage and love each other through that brokenness.

A defining moment in her life was her trip that she was able to take to Uganda, Africa this past summer. Armentrout’s face lit up as she spoke about her experience and time overseas.

“So, I’d been waiting like three years to get to Africa, so being there was basically a dream come true!” she said. She talked about the wonder, beauty, and power of God that became so real to her over the course of her trip.

“It woke up this part of me that had been complacent before and I just feel like I’m so much more full of understanding of who He is. He’s more real than the ground I stand on,” Amentrout said.

Armentrout’s experience in Africa has radically shaken her world and her view of God. She’s come back to school this year with a vigor and a passion to encourage the students at GFU that “God is showing Himself in new ways.” She believes this with all of her heart and she is eager to see the changes that God is going to make in the hearts of those all over campus.

Armentrout is an incredible prayer warrior and an unstoppable force for Jesus Christ. Her place as a chaplain is something that she takes very seriously and holds very dear to her heart. God has awoken her heart in a new way and she is bursting with excitement to see God work this year.