Five Guys

Technology helps alumni hang out long after their years in Coly


While the families of Scott Bahrke, Stan De Zeeuw, Troy Bruning, John Rundquist and Craig Paulsen try to get together once a year, the five friends use Google Hangout for monthly encouragement and accountability.

The police officer, amused, suggested that surely five guys from Northwestern College would know its fight song, and perhaps he'd be persuaded to scrap the speeding ticket if they gave a performance.

John Rundquist '99, driver of his buddies and wearer of a bicycle helmet—more on that later—invented, in earnest, the first notes of a song he didn't know. Scott Bahrke '01, Troy Bruning '01, Stan De Zeeuw '01 and Craig Paulsen '00 joined in, singing the made-up lyrics with gusto.

The cop, sufficiently entertained, let them go.

"These guys have been there for half the chapters of my life," says John. "They've been through the highs and lows. I don't know life without them."


John was resident assistant (RA) of 2E Colenbrander Hall from the fall of 1997 to spring of '99. He noticed a certain four men always attended the events he organized, from Bible studies to a Kool-Aid drink-off. The five soon developed a special bond and began planning activities for themselves, such as a road trip to Galveston, Texas, to sing karaoke and drive right back—adding oil at every gas stop to the van they had borrowed from an Orange City family.

Trips often involved a "dare"—hence the bicycle helmet worn while driving a car, or Scott's mission to walk to the counter of a vitamin store, flex his biceps, and ask, "What have you got for these?"

John's two years went by quickly; when he graduated, he chose a teaching position in Omaha over one in Wichita to be closer to the guys. Troy took over as RA. Just before the last of the men would graduate, John's infant nephew died unexpectedly. The funeral was held in Minnesota.

To John's surprise, Scott and his future wife, Lyndsay (Henderson '02), walked in.

"We had to come," Scott told him. "We had to be here for you."

"He had driven three hours there, three hours back," John recounts later. "That's when I knew these guys weren't going anywhere."

A season of weddings would follow. Stan had married while still in school. Craig walked Troy's sister down the aisle at Troy's wedding, and eventually married her.


Scott married Lyndsay the week after John's wedding, and John didn't think twice about interrupting his honeymoon in Estes Park, Colo., to head back to Orange City. (His wife, Celeste, knew what she was getting into; one by one, the guys had walked John down the aisle to her, solemnly playing off what was only partly a joke: "I wanted them to have a big part in my wedding," he says.)

There would be 18 kids born to this group of friends, but with miscarriages and stalled adoption procedures along the way. The men stood by each other through the heartaches of adulthood with the same devotion that bonded them to each other in their youth.

The men would become teachers (John and Stan), a hospital IT manager (Troy), Northwestern's head cross country and track and field coach (Scott), and a senior implementation manager in finance (Craig). And now, when jobs and families make road trips harder to manage, technology comes to the rescue: They meet on Google Hangouts on the third Tuesday of each month to stay accountable, just as they did late nights in Coly.

"I go to them for advice on being a better husband, parent and leader in my church," Scott says. "We pray for each other and the things that are on our hearts. Our Google Hangout has kept me from a spiritual rut many times."

"God uses them to help form me into the person I am today. I would not be the same without them," Stan says.

All of this—the helmet, the Hangouts—might not have happened had John needed his backup plan. A struggling student in high school, John wasn't convinced he'd be accepted into a four-year college. He was ready to work on a farm or drive a truck, but Northwestern, he says, gave him a chance—to be a teacher, which was his dream, and ultimately a better man.

Craig puts it best:

"Throughout the years, we have realized the strength and encouragement we provide each other is something that is rare. To me, these men have been a living example of Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

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