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Fall Spiritual Emphasis Week promotes spiritual growth

October 17, 2014

Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, NNU chaplains Olivia and Dustin Metcalf led the NNU community in the annual Fall Spiritual Emphasis Week. Traditionally an outside speaker comes in to lead regular chapels and additional services to help the campus community refocus in the midst of the busy fall schedule. Because they are in their first semester of service as chaplains, the Melcalfs claimed this special week as an opportunity to continue to introduce themselves to the campus community and share their heart for spiritual growth on campus. 

Prior to the event, Olivia shared, “Hopefully, this week will be an important point on the spiritual journey of many students, faculty and staff. We believe there is something important about setting aside time, marking special occasions and emphasizing things within the regular rhythms of life. Even though we have already had opportunity to speak regularly in chapel, we are looking forward to considering what pausing looks like.”

Their theme for the week was a continuation of their fall series “Right Side Up” taken from the Sermon on the Mount. Specifically it focused on Christians becoming “beacons of hope” in a world full of persecution and challenges. The duo led NNU through Matthew 5:10-16 and discussed what it means to live a Christian life in relation to this text.  

On Monday, Dustin told the story of 3rd century Christians Perpetua and Felicity and the persecution and martyrdom they faced. Metcalf was blunt saying, “You want me to stand in front of you and pronounce blessing on you and that your life will be long and fulfilling and filled with all kinds of pleasure. But that is not what I have to offer you today. You need to die to yourself. You need to take up the cross of Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded today what it means to be Christian. I think we need to reclaim this word for us. When I look at the lives of Perpetua and Felicity and the martyrs that have gone before us I want to think that this means something; that Christianity stands for something.”

Next, he moved to challenge the community of NNU: “Each time a Christian stands up to persecution and does not compromise, the way is made easier for others to follow. Not because they too won’t face equally difficult challenges—they probably will—but because they will face it knowing somebody else has already been here. Somebody has already marked this path in front of us. I wonder, will the same be said of you? Will your actions light the way of others to follow who claim this name Christian for themselves?”  

Senior communications major Susanna Fleming remarked that Dustin’s account of Perpetua and Felicity, which she had not heard before, impacted her deeply. “Their bravery and unwavering commitment to Jesus in the face of horrific death is equally inspiring and challenging, and I feel like my religious convictions were strengthened as a result of hearing this story.” 

She went on to describe her views of persecution after this message: “While we shouldn’t trivialize religious persecution, the persecution that I have faced for my faith is nothing compared to the incredible persecution that other Christians are facing all over the world today. If Christians can stand for Jesus when faced with the threat of lions tearing them to shreds, I am reassured that I can stand for Jesus in the face of any threat that stands in my way.”  

All week the Metcalfs challenged NNU by offering students and faculty an opportunity to take an introspective examination into their spiritual life and evaluate if they are living as Christ has intended for us all to live.  

Come hear from the Metcalfs and see how they fostering spiritual growth on campus by attending a chapel service on a campus visit

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