Spring 2009 | by President Jay Barnes
In my recent inaugural address, “Becoming an Adventurous Christ-follower,” I stated a vision for Bethel University and a challenge for our community. I want students in all parts of Bethel to be passionate about following Christ as a result of our Christ-centered education. This issue of Bethel Focus gives you a glimpse of what it means to be an adventurous Christ-follower, showing you some of the ways we are equipping and motivating graduates to serve well (GPS).
One of our most powerful educational opportunities is to study and serve in other cultures. Bethel University is among the top U.S. schools in percentage of students who study away. This reflects the good work of Associate Dean Vincent Peters, his staff, and many faculty members who make this a priority for students. Although we are blessed by a beautiful campus in Arden Hills, Minn., education confined to Arden Hills limits opportunities to see a bigger picture of the world and a bigger picture of God.
Students who spend significant time studying and serving in other cultures come back to campus changed. They see themselves differently, God’s people differently, race and justice issues differently, and wealth and poverty issues differently. They see the world as a more complex, interconnected place economically, religiously, and socially. Often, they are a little hard to live with as they come back with a more intense desire to change the world! That is a great outcome of a Bethel education!
While not an entirely different world, our NYCAMS program challenges students to think about what it means to be an adventurous Christ-follower in the visual arts (Works in Progress). New York City is one of the world’s most vibrant arts centers, and there is a strong group of Christ-followers within the arts community there. Bethel students join with other students from Christian universities in a culturally rich, racially diverse, biblically grounded center where they can grow as artists who are serious about faith. This signature Bethel program grew out of the vision of our art department, one of the finest faculty groups in private higher education. Eugene Johnson’s original vision is alive and flourishing.
In challenging times, we have much to celebrate. Thriving programs, new facilities (Commons Opens), committed employees, and changed lives are evidence that God is at work here. Barb and I consider it an amazing privilege to lead at Bethel as we commit to “Become Adventurous Christ-followers.”
President Jay Barnes