Message from the President
Living an Exceptional Life
Barbara Palmer, vice president at First Republic Bank in Portland, is one of our very fine board members. I have known her for almost 14 years. About four months ago I was at her office downtown and she said, “You have got to meet one of your graduates!” She walked me down a hallway, and inside one of the offices was a sharply dressed young man named Jeff Greene. Jeff is a 2002 graduate of George Fox and an investment consultant at the bank.
She was right, I was impressed, so I called Jeff and asked if we could meet and just talk. One of the real joys of being president is that you have an opportunity to get to know the stories of graduates of your institution.
I learned a lot about Jeff in our meeting together. He was a basketball player and a math major who was influenced by two excellent professors, Hank Helsabeck and John Johnson. He took the skills he had learned in math and entered the finance industry, where he is doing well. He met his lovely wife, the former Kristen Meier (a 2002 graduate and psychology major), and they were married in 2003. Jeff and Kristen attend Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Portland.
Those are the facts – but the rest of the story is where you really discover who Jeff and Kristen are. After they married and before children, Kristen worked in international adoption. Even though they knew they were going to have natural children, they made the decision to adopt first. In 2008, after much investigation, Jeff and Kristen adopted two children from Ethiopia: Tigist, who is 9 years old, and Mehiretu, who is 6. Their mother had passed away and their father could not afford to take care of them, so he took them to the local orphanage hoping that they would be adopted. His hopes were fulfilled when Kristen and Jeff adopted both children.
It was through the adoption process that Kristen and Jeff also gained a passion for international ministry, and they focused on work in Ethiopia. Jeff researched a number of ministry efforts and found Glimmer of Hope, which sends 100 percent of all funds raised to the projects being completed. For the past four years, the Greenes have been part of a fundraising effort that has raised around $1 million annually toward building projects in Tercha in southern Ethiopia. In the first year alone the ministry completed eight water projects that serve a few thousand people each; a new health post; and four school buildings, each with four classrooms. Since then Glimmer of Hope has completed a maternity ward and more classrooms, and they are working on a separate children’s ward in the hospital.
In the past year the Greenes have expanded their vision of ministry into foster care. Right now they have one foster daughter who is 3 years old. Jeff and Kristen noted that when they looked into foster care “there are so many kids in need and few homes available to children – we wanted to help provide hope.” They also recently welcomed a new son into the world, Malichi!
Jeff and Kristen are unassuming people. It was clear that they did not tell me their story to brag. I think they believe they are just normal Christians doing what God has called them to do in their community.
The university’s vision statement calls on us to empower students “to achieve exceptional life outcomes.” When I think of “exceptional life outcomes,” I don’t think of high-paying careers or material possessions. Instead, I think of graduates like Jeff and Kristen, who are using their unique gifts and abilities to make a difference in the name of Jesus.