Recently I sat down at a table by a storyteller. It wasn’t at Andrews; in fact, I was in North Carolina. But the storyteller has deep Andrews connections. A recent graduate, Jordan Smart, is now on the road as an Andrews recruiter. We had never talked at any length before, and soon it became clear that we had something important in common: a love of stories and a belief in the power of storytelling. So, of course, I need to tell you his story. Jordan was born in Rochester, New York, the child of Jamaican parents. His parents had a talent for observing his interests and nurturing them along. One of those interests was drawing, so along came paper and crayons, and soon random drawing turned to piles of pictures that in turn became an opportunity to tell a story through pictures. Jordan was sure he was going to be a cartoonist or a photojournalist. Now move forward a few years—graduating with a degree in psychology and being an Andrews recruiter may seem a long way from that goal of a cartoonist. But read Jordan’s full story at andrews.edu/stories and see how storytelling has remained to him a powerful tool to make a difference. Thank you, Jordan, for sharing your talents with Andrews University. Keep telling stories!
For most Americans, soccer is a weekend activity for little boys and girls, but travel outside our unenlightened borders and you quickly learn that soccer (or football to everyone else) is a religion. So it was for Joakim Hjortland, who discovered his passion for football when he was 6. Joakim, one of Andrews University’s growing number of online students, is a religion major who is studying from his home in Bergen, Norway. Until he turned 17, Joakim planned on a career as a member of a FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) team with golden dreams of World Cup games. But all of that changed when God showed Joakim that there are trophies more important than the World Cup. Joakim is now living a life of service as a speaker, author and an elder in the Bergen Seventh-day Adventist Church. More than that, Joakim has channeled his enthusiasm and intensity into a growing ministry. He is putting what he has learned in his Andrews University program to practical use by spreading the word of God and changing the world. Take a step into Andrews University’s virtual campus and learn more about Joakim and his remarkable journey in Stories of Andrews at andrews.edu/stories.
Alayne Thorpe Dean, School of Distance Education & International Partnerships/School of Graduate Studies
In Jeremiah 1:5, God declares the following over Jeremiah:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” (NLT).
A quick Google search will likely bring up thousands of books and resources geared toward helping people find their identity. For many of us, questions regarding our calling, identity and purpose become daily rhetorical reminders of how critical it is to figure out our place in the world. In the midst of that often stressful and daunting search, we can find comfort in the words that God declared over Jeremiah. We can be reminded that, just as was the case with Jeremiah, God has set us apart and appointed us to be used by Him in any way He sees fit.
Paul says it this way in Ephesians 1:11:
“Furthermore, because we are united in Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan” (NLT).
If we commit those questions about our calling, identity and purpose to God, He will then reveal to us, in His time, the things he has in store for our lives. What an amazing assurance!
Today, I would like to introduce you to Evenny “Ev” Milliner, an Afro-Latina undergraduate senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work. Ev digs deep into her search for identity and explains how wrestling with tensions around her racial/ethnic classification, her skin complexion and her faith played a role in her search to discover who she is—a journey that continues to be a daily walk for her.
You can read more of Ev’s story in Stories of Andrews at andrews.edu/stories.
Thank you, Ev, for giving us a transparent look into your search for identity and reminding us of the assurance that we all have of ultimately finding clarity of purpose, calling and identity in Christ.
Hyveth Williams is a trailblazer and trendsetter in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She also has the distinction of being the first to accomplish many things within the church. For example, she is the first black female pastor, and the first female pastor period, to be officially hired by the Adventist Church. Hyveth also went on to become the first female senior pastor in the denomination. God was always preparing her for a life of public ministry. Her earliest childhood memories, on the island of Jamaica, are of reading and reciting poetry on public stages for officials and dignitaries, such as the island’s governor. Additionally, her mother would have her read newspapers to the villagers who could not read. Hyveth did not grow up with televisions or radios. She found the most joy in simply reading the dictionary, imagining words as pictures. Only God is capable of such orchestration. Hyveth’s influence is profoundly felt around the world. In 2013, she established a community church plant, The Grace Place, in South Bend, Indiana, where people from the surrounding community now number more than the weekly Adventist attendees. You can read more of Hyveth's story in Stories of Andrews at andrews.edu/stories. Hyveth, you are an example for living fearlessly, loving God, loving life and loving people! You are my mentor and my friend, and you embody the Spirit of Andrews.
"I am sure that many of you have seen information this academic year that refers to the 50th-anniversary celebrations for an archaeological dig site in Jordan. Or maybe it has just passed you by. Actually, it is a big deal. Over the Christmas break I had the opportunity to talk to one of the individuals who has been involved in this site since its early days. But the interview was about more than the dig in Jordan—it was about one of our faculty who has spent the vast majority of his career at Andrews University and, through that career, has lived his passion for bringing change and hope to both individuals and communities. Øystein LaBianca was a native of Norway, and when he first moved to the United States with his family as a teenager, it was to Battle Creek. That was the first of many explorations to new cultures and environments. His academy years were spent in three different schools, including Bogenhofen in Austria. His college/university years also saw him traveling the world, particularly in the Middle East, experiencing different cultures and communities. But it was here at Andrews University, just as he finished his undergraduate studies, that a new world opened up to him. It started with animal bones. And it led him to discover a calling that has impacted his career ever since, giving him a unique slant to service as a professional and an Adventist. His initiatives included early service-learning programs on campus and turning “Genesis” into a word of hope for many single parents. You can read more of Sten's story in Stories of Andrews at andrews.edu/stories. Thank you, Sten, for your example to this community of how to create opportunities of service from your own unique talents and interests. You truly live the spirit of Andrews!"
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