Different ethnicities. Different denominations. Different voices. I am constantly reminded of celebrating differences rather than being colorblind. Instead of thinking that we are all the same, I see color in all its beauty, God’s beauty.
Not only am I an alumna of George Fox, I have been working in student life at the university since the fall of 2008. After traveling and living abroad in other countries and states, I came back to Fox to support domestic underrepresented students, plan cultural awareness activities, and be a part of institutional change. As we intentionally grow our student population to be one that represents God’s kingdom, it does come with difficulties. We have to think outside our own paradigm. Be willing to step out of our comfort zone. Pause. Listen. Really listen. Hear another’s voice through their perspective.
Psalm 139:14 NIV says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” When I think of this verse I know that it’s not just about me but about others being uniquely made, too. In chapel this last week, I was a part of a collaborative vision that started with our campus pastor, Sarah Baldwin. She had the idea to have Dr. Stephen Newby and his Seattle Pacific University choir sing with our student-led gospel choir that Christopher Benjamin started last year. As I watched the groups practice together, it was exciting to see the creativity join in unity. This intentional collaboration did not come without difficulties, but the end result was being able to glorify God together.
My encouragement for alumni like myself is to not let problems get in the way of a bigger vision – the ultimate vision of serving Christ in all that we do.
There is beauty in differences. There is joy in differences. Let your differences shine.
Shelley Yonemura ’00
Director of Multicultural Student Programs
George Fox University