Calvin kicks off second semester with Regathering


Photo by Lauren DeHaan

Students and faculty gathered for a time of worship and testimony in the Covenant Fine Arts Center on Wednesday morning to regroup and celebrate the beginning of second semester.

“[Regathering] is a time to affirm one another and to affirm the purpose of being here together,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin College.

The regathering featured the testimonies of three students who returned this semester after studying abroad.

The first speaker was Christian Balcer, a junior who studied fall semester in Hungary. His testimony began with a graphic description of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp he visited during his semester.

Balcer explained that the whole time he was at the concentration camp, he asked himself, “where was God?”

On the way back to Hungary, Balcer’s question quickly turned into “where were we? Where was humanity?”

Balcer challenged Calvin: “Where are the situations in the world today that need a voice, humanity to show up just to turn things around? How can we show up in places so we don’t let things get to that point?”

Communication arts and sciences professor Stephanie Sandberg spoke next. She described the work that two students did in Ghana to produce a play executed by village children to raise money for a local health clinic. Despite initial setbacks, the play ended up raising $45,000 and the construction of the clinic is currently underway.

“When was the last time you felt really uncomfortable?” asked Sandberg. “If you aren’t feeling that every day, there is something wrong. We need to learn to look with the eyes of grace. Be a new reflection of Christ’s ministry.”

The final speaker was junior student Kate Parsons who talked about the different ways we can experience God outside of our comfort zones.

“In Honduras, all of my habits of experiencing God were gone. We had to experience new ways of seeing him,” Parsons said. “Darkness and pain do not mean the absence of God. Sometimes those places are where God’s light shines the brightest.”

The three testimonies and the time of worship focused on branching out of comfort zones and relying on God.

“[Regathering] is such an important reminder that the kingdom of God is global, universal, timeless; and when we venture out, and as all of our speakers said today, when we get stretched, when we get uncomfortable, we are reminded again how God shows up,” said Chaplain Mary Hulst.