Courageous and Faithful

President Greg Christy


For some people, their first impression of Northwestern College is that it’s a small, quiet college tucked safely amongst the cornfields of northwest Iowa. On one hand, this is true. With around 1,200 students, NWC is a small college located in the most prosperous agricultural county in Iowa—and perhaps the world. Orange City is remarkably safe, often quiet and sometimes referred to as “Mayberry-like.”

A safe, quiet Mayberry quality is nice when it comes to a small college in a small town. But safe and quiet aren’t necessarily appropriate characteristics of our Christian life and witness. So while they’re reassuring descriptors of Northwestern’s location, they don’t describe the college’s mission. Instead, we boldly proclaim we are a Christian academic community engaging students in courageous and faithful learning and living. Students might be pushed beyond their comfort zones as they’re encouraged to indulge their intellectual curiosity and develop the depths of their spiritual understanding.

Why do professors, coaches and staff challenge students in this way? To accomplish our mission of empowering students to follow Christ and pursue God’s redeeming work in the world. We desire to help our graduates discover and respond to God’s call with courage and faith. They do, and God has led them all around the world—sometimes to places that are more mayhem than Mayberry.

Northwestern has many courageous and faithful alumni, but I will share the story of one couple: Felipe ’12 and Janelle (de Waard ’11) Silva. Felipe came to Northwestern from Brazil, Janelle from Canada, and they met here. Felipe majored in religion, played soccer, and served as an RA and SSP leader. Janelle was a social work major, RA, Discipleship Group leader and SSP participant. Through these various experiences, they sensed a calling to serve overseas.

God led the Silvas to New Horizons Ministries in Romania, a country socially and economically devastated after decades of communism. The vast majority of residents in their village of Lupeni are unemployed. The Silvas are investing in their new neighbors and putting to work the practices of community development they learned from religion professor Michael Andres.

Janelle assists with NWC’s Romania Semester and also works with mothers of children with Down syndrome. Felipe uses his avocation of rock climbing to build relationships with youth and is raising funds for a climbing gym to better reach the many young people in need of mentorship. Through their church the Silvas welcome Romanians into their home, where they can share the love of Jesus with them.

The Silvas recently visited the Northwestern community and area churches, telling stories of their first year of Romanian ministry. Their passion for the people of Romania was inspiring. What a blessing to witness our graduates living Northwestern’s courageous and faithful mission wherever God calls them.

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