On Wednesday evenings in the Sport Science building, Belmont University students and Nashville area volunteers created a modern day story of the Good Samaritan. In the Biblical parable, a man was beaten and robbed and his needs overlooked until a Samaritan bandaged him and took him to an inn.
“In this case we put him in a Kia or a Chevy and took him to a gymnasium,” said Belmont Vice President of Spiritual Development Todd Lake. “We found people in other religious communities who were willing to set the alarm clock early or miss time with family and friends to be here and help people who needed help.”
Room in the Inn is an organization that coordinates shelters for homeless people and offers them emergency services, transitional programs and long-term solutions to help people rebuild their lives. Belmont began hosting guests with Room in the Inn in 2011, becoming one of the only universities in the country to shelter homeless guests in on-campus facilities.
Two nights a week–Wednesdays and Fridays–from November to March Belmont students cook dinner for the homeless and fellowship with them before they turn in for the night on cots. Although they had the eagerness and willingness to serve, students often did not have transportation to get the homeless to campus this year, so students turned to members of other faiths in Nashville for help. The Islamic Center of Nashville and Congregation Sherith Israel sent volunteer drivers and chefs to work alongside students at a Christian university to aid the homeless.
During a recent informal celebration of the partnership’s success, Belmont Director of Outreach Micah Weedman said, “One thing all of our religious traditions share is a common commitment to hospitality, particularly to those on the margins of our society and those considered outsiders. One of the fundamental elements of Christian life is to welcome strangers so that they might be our friends. At a University where we strive to address issues like global poverty and homelessness, it’s important that we learn also to become friends and share meals with those we wish to serve, and with those we’re learning to serve with.”
“Thank you on behalf of Belmont students. People are always telling me how much this experience changed them,” said sophomore Jeanette Morelan. “Through Room in the Inn, we came to learn someone else’s perspective through dialogue. It’s been incredible to see how much students from the Belmont community wanted to give, and it pouring back into our loves. Thank you for facilitating that experience.” (more…)
“I rediscovered my faith through film,” Bernsen said. “Jesus is my way to God, and God is this incredible mystery that has guided my life to this very moment.”
Bernsen has starred in the TV shows “L.A. Law,” “JAG” and “Psych,” as well as in TV movies like “An American Affair” and serials such as “The Young and the Restless” and “General Hospital,” and in more than a dozen films, including “Major League.” He has both a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from UCLA, and is president of Home Theater Films, which produces “smart family entertainment,” including full-length movies such as “Rust” that inspire families with new ways to approach life and strengthen community.
Bernsen explained that his search for truth has guided his entire career and inspired his films.
“I am sitting here for a purpose, but I don’t know which way I am supposed to go,” Bernsen said. “I ask God for help, and I hear, ‘Keep going. Know me. Know love. Know truth.’”
Approximately 80 Belmont students, faculty and staff traveled across the world last week as part of Immersion 2014, Belmont’s Spring Break mission trip program sponsored by University Ministries. Every Immersion trip gives participants a chance to be immersed in local culture and in the cares and concerns of local communities while also providing an intense exposure to what God is doing all over the world.
This year groups traveled to diverse locations all over the world, exploring immigration and border issues in Las Cruces, examining creation in Cumberland Island, Ga., engaging in servant leadership in D.C. and working in the inner cities of New York and Guatemala, among other excursions. To see blog entries from the immersion trips, click here.
“My experience with Belmont’s Immersion program was the best spring break choice I’ve ever made. I was able to gain a new perspective on poverty and homelessness, problems so many Americans face every day. I created meaningful relationships with other students and was able to experience a different side of Washington, D.C. than most tourists ever see,” senior Emily Cox said about her trip to D.C.
Each of these trips had its own theme and unique contexts, but shared prayer as a commonality. Each team used the same prayer guide daily to lead and inspire them through their missions.
University Ministries’ Director of Outreach Micah Weedman said, “Immersion trips are a powerful opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to immerse themselves in God’s love for God’s world—the people and the places—and to find themselves in God’s love by proclaiming it in service, learning and reflection.”
The author of Oprah Book Club selection, Jewel, Bret Lott visited Belmont on Wednesday for a Christian Faith Development convocation sponsored by the School of Religion, the English department and the Office of Spiritual Development.
After noting “I only understand what I mean if I write it out,” Lott read to the audience his thoughts on the roles of story, genres and faith in a person’s life. “Why do people buy the same novel again and again and again” he asked, noting his belief that in those tales readers find a glimpse of the light and meaning they seek. Alluding to C.S. Lewis, he continued, “Those books have delivered a story that has brought them to the brink of their own far-off country.”
But Lott argued that genre is not the same as story; rather, genre is but a shadow of the real story everyone seeks, a story that is found in the person of Christ. “I ask you not ‘what is your story’ but who is your story?”
“Things may be great, but outside of God our work looks like this,” Dwan said while holding up crumpled paper. “This clean sheet of paper represents what we get from Jesus Christ when we accept the Gospel. It represents redemption. Everything I have been doing to make this (paper) better, Jesus has already done. All he asks us to do is believe and receive.”
The Hills have recorded with many major artists including alumna Melinda Doolittle, trustee CeCe Winans and faculty member Chester Thompson. They also have performed at the Thunder Bay Canada Blues Festival and run their own recording studio, using their Belmont education to make a difference for God in the world. (more…)