What we’re listening to
December, 14 2018
…and exhale. You finally made it through the end of the semester! All those sleepless nights and seemingly endless amounts of homework might be a little more worth it now that you are free to spend the next month with family and friends. To help you get in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year, the Student Activities team picked out some of our favorite holiday songs to share with you! From our SA family to yours, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas.
Where are you going?
December, 3 2018
Written By: Luis Rodriguez
Next week I will be finally heading home for Christmas to the Dominican Republic. My country is a small island in the Caribbean with a tropical climate characterized by an everlasting warm weather that makes our “winter” be just like our summer. For many others students just like me, winter break means much more than just a few weeks of rest. To me, it means going to the place where I left my heart before going to college and finally seeing my favorite people again. First, I want to discuss how I dealt with change in my move from country to country, and then I’ll talk about why I love my country so much.
I came to Liberty in Fall 2017 from the Dominican Republic. I love my country and I couldn’t see myself not living there anymore. It was hard at first; I missed my Dominican coffee, my Nana’s food and our year-long summer. But shortly after being at Liberty I realized something very important: great things happen outside my bubble. Coming to Liberty was a big change for me. Leaving my country and being part of a new culture wasn’t easy. But now I see clearly how God has used this to shape my vision.
Whether it is remodeling a room, starting a new project or moving to another city, change affects everyone. Some people, however, are more open to big changes and can even find them exciting. In the beginning, this was my case. I felt very excited to start this journey to college by myself and I didn’t consider that the change would affect me much.
I quickly realized that I wasn’t in my comfort zone anymore. Instead of waking up to see my mom and sister, I was now waking up to my roommate and his several alarms. Instead of having lunch every day at 2PM with my family, now I had to eat quickly by myself in between classes. Soon it all started to feel overwhelming and I began to doubt my purpose for being here. Doubt is something we usually don’t pay much attention to. Being undecided about some things is normal. But constant doubt, in my opinion, can reflect what’s going on in your heart.
For most of my life I had been very confident about every decision that I made. But now I was scared to go outside my bubble and try new things. This situation reminded me of Joshua when he was commanded to lead God’s people and conquer the promised land. When I read the first chapter of Joshua, I was reminded that God is with us everywhere we go. Knowing that God is with me in every moment was crucial to face my fear and doubt.
Even though I missed my culture, my family and my incredible friends, I knew that God had sent me here for a reason. I didn’t want my fears to keep me away from the great things God had planned for me, so I started being intentional with my choices. Instead of complaining about the things I didn’t have anymore, I started being grateful for the new blessings I had. Sure, I still felt nostalgic at times, but with this new mindset, I was appreciating everything God had given to me much more.
Every day of this semester I’ve dreamed about the day I finally return to my beautiful island. Christmas has a different meaning to me after having left my country and being away from it for so long. When I was younger, the holidays were just the time when I could ask for an obnoxious number of things and not be judged because of it. I never really paid much attention to the meaning behind it. The whole story of Christmas is based on the greatest event in human history – the birth of Jesus Christ. But for most of my life I made this season all about me. Now that I see Christmas in a different way, I am able to enjoy it to the fullest.
One of the few things that most people know about the Dominican Republic is that it is a top vacation destination and I don’t blame them for it. Our beaches, mountains and ancient colonial cities make my country a great place to relax and enjoy the incredible view that the island offers. Even though these are all amazing features about my country, the things that make me love the Dominican Republic are not usually known to our visitors.
The first thing I do after landing in my city, Santo Domingo, is eat some empanadas with my mom and my sister at the airport. Then I will go to Los Jefes Street Food and eat my favorite burger: The Classic Elly. I could talk about what I will eat for the rest of this blog, but I’m sure you would enjoy more knowing other things about home. Something that is important to every Dominican is baseball. Dominicans run on baseball and during the game season, the country is divided into our six local teams and the spirit is on. When we won the World Baseball Classic on 2013 we couldn’t believe ourselves and we all came together in a country-wide celebration like no other. Going to a baseball game with my friend is always a priority on my to-do list during winter break.
Nightlife is an important part of our culture. Whether it is going out for dinner or visiting the colonial zone, my city is the most beautiful at night. Our colonial zone, founded in 1502 by the Spanish colonizers, makes the best hangout spot for people that enjoy good food accompanied by fine Spanish architecture. I often go there with my friends and family to tour the city on a bike or a Vespa.
The last and main reason why I love my country so much is the people. I have never seen another culture like the Dominican. It’s great to see how people that don’t know each other can call themselves brothers and always be willing to offer a helping hand. Even far from home, bonding with other Dominicans always fills my heart because of the warm welcome they always give. I think is beautiful to see how despite many issues there might be, the Dominican people will always greet you with their best smile.
You don’t have to leave your country for God to start working on you. You just have to be mindful of the opportunities that are out there waiting for you. Living outside your comfort zone is not something that happens instantly. It requires effort and persistence. In many occasions, I feel tempted to do whatever seems easier or more comfortable. But I know that I might be missing out on something much better.
If you can relate to this but you would like to change, try starting with small steps. Serving your community, helping out a classmate on a project, trying a new milkshake flavor at Cook Out and even stopping by the Student Activities coffee table and chatting for a while are examples of things you could find very uncomfortable to do. But you will see how continuously putting yourself out there will eventually make it easier for you to step out of your comfort zone and let God use you the way He wants to.
I can’t contain my happiness knowing that I am days away from being home again. Nos vemos pronto Quisqueya!
Where are you going?
November, 16 2018
Written By: Naomi Bower
In just a few days I will be off to my favorite place in the world – home. I am very happy that I chose to attend school on the east coast, but it’s one of the strangest feelings having so few friends who know or understand where I am from. While Arizona makes up the collection of our 50 states, I have only met a handful of students who are from or have visited my state.
So here’s what I want you to know.
The weather in Arizona is excellent. While everyone will be enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner with the potential of snow in the forecast, my family and I will be eating our meal outside in what I believe is the most ideal weather. What’s better than a little Thanksgiving picnic?
On top of that, there are so many things to do in this weather – one of them obviously being our mountains. There are so many places to hike, from the White Tanks (located just a few miles west of my home) to the famous Grand Canyon. My personal favorite place, however, is Sedona. This is a view you won’t find anywhere on the east coast. Sedona is fascinating not only for the incredible red rock structures, but for the town itself. Just a few miles short of the hiking trails you are greeted by a variety of unique shops and restaurants. One of my favorite finds is a little hole in the wall called Tamaliza. I have had quite a few tamales in my day, but I would drive back to Arizona tomorrow just to have another one from this shop.
But what else do you do? Great question. Phoenix is our capital for a reason. Not only is there great coffee from places like Press Coffee Roasters, but there are so many great places to eat. My ideal day in Phoenix would most likely include brunch at The Henry followed by a trip to Roosevelt Row. Roosevelt Row is the heart and soul of all the fascinating art that Phoenix has to offer. This is by far one of my favorite things about Arizona because the culture is not only diverse, but everything is altogether progressive. You never know what you will find.
I am often surprised to discover how unaware people on the east coast are of our culture in Arizona. I feel honored to live in a place where I can experience a culture much different than my own on a day to day basis. Roughly one-third of Arizona is Hispanic and it’s evident in the simplest of things from the authentic Mexican food to bargaining at the Public Market. This is a privilege I am happy to experience.
I recognize I am a little biased as anyone would be with their home, but I hope that in reading this you find your way out west even just for a short while.
What we’re listening to
November, 16 2018
Thanksgiving break is finally here! The turkey and mashed potatoes will make the countless hours of studying and writing almost worth it. For your ride home, the SA team put together some of our favorite road-tripping songs to accompany you along the way. We hope you enjoy this playlist and enjoy your break! Happy Thanksgiving!
Preview: Christmas in Lights
November, 9 2018
Written By: Drew Snavely
The nights are getting colder and the days are getting shorter. The leaves are littering the ground and time is running out to save that COMS 101 grade. The trees along University Boulevard are draped with excessive amounts of LED lights and giant artificial trees are seemingly put up overnight. This can only mean one thing: Christmas is coming.
For the last eight years, Christmas in Lights has been the staple event to bring in the holiday season here on Liberty’s campus. Being surrounded by thousands of students gathering together for the lighting of the DeMoss Christmas tree and University Boulevard is an experience you never forget. I went to my first Christmas in Lights six years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday (truthfully, a big reason for that is probably because of the ridiculous holiday turtleneck that I wore to the event – there are some things you can’t unsee). Student Activities has come a long way since we started putting on Christmas in Lights nearly a decade ago, and each year it gets better. This year we decided to go bigger.
Many students have seen the 30-foot tree that stands in front of DeMoss every holiday season and know it is the centerpiece for every Christmas in Lights we have previously done. This year we are changing things up a little bit. Christmas in Lights will be taking place in front of the Montview steps on the Academic Lawn. “Why move the event further away from University Blvd.?” you may ask. The answer is: because we have a 50 foot Christmas tree that fits perfectly in front of the Montview steps. That’s why. Not only will we have a bigger tree, we will also have a live Santa Claus for the first time ever. You can finally ask him for that Red Ryder BB Gun you’ve been wanting. In addition to that, we will have Dawn & Dusk Donuts, Nomad Coffee, free hot chocolate and cookies, Christmas caroling from the LU choir and live music from Judd Harris! We will also be partnering with Lynchburg Daily Bread and Urban Mountain Adventures. Both organizations will be taking food and winter clothes donations throughout the night. Check out our Christmas in Lights page for more event details!
We are so excited to bring such a special event to the student body and cannot wait to celebrate Christmas with you! See you there!
November, 8 2018
Written By: Kaitlyn Skarstein
The start of slavery in 1619 tore America to shreds and redefined our future as a country. As we look back on those horrible times today in our history classes, we often think to ourselves, “Why did no one stand up or do anything?” Yet, a lot of times the same people who ask that question today are the ones who are allowing human trafficking to happen right in front of their own eyes by not doing anything to help fight this injustice.
Human trafficking is defined as modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Human trafficking is broken up into three groups: sex trafficking, sex and labor trafficking, and labor trafficking. According to the FBI, “Human trafficking, believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world, is a form of human slavery which must be addressed at the interagency level”. Human trafficking is not just a global issue, it is something that is happening right here in Virginia. In 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 98 cases of human trafficking and have received 191 calls about it just in Virginia this year. Since 2007, there have been 4,248 calls and 1,025 cases in Virginia, but a large majority of people are still naïve and uninformed of the epidemic that is going on.
In Lynchburg there is an organization called Freedom 4/24 whose mission is to “bring freedom and justice to victims and survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking through raising awareness and education and providing financial support for frontline organizations working to end these forms of modern-day slavery”. Freedom 4/24 was started by a college-aged student, just like most of us, who was passionate about making a difference in the world after seeing the red light district in Bangkok, Thailand.
I was given the opportunity to volunteer for this incredible nonprofit organization last year and it changed my perspective on human trafficking. I was able to fight against and bring awareness to this issue through working the Run 4 Their Lives race right here on Liberty’s campus. This is an event where people from the community come out and run a 5K in support of the women and children enslaved, while becoming more educated. I think the coolest thing about this event is that each person writes a girl’s name on their arm to represent who they are running this race for. For example, I wrote Fa’s name on my arm. Fa is from Samut Sakhorn, which is southwest of Bangkok, and she was working in the red light district to be able to support her family financially after her father left. Her friend told her about Home of New Beginnings, which is a “holistic relational ministry in Bangkok and Pattaya, Thailand, that seeks to address the spiritual, emotional, physical, and educational needs of women and children who desire to leave the sex trade. It is a place of safety and hope that builds trust and community around faith-centered healing and education”, and ever since then her life was changed because she left the sex slavery business.
Freedom 4/24 puts on the Run 4 Their Lives race every single year in a few different locations, including Lynchburg! The race will be in April and I encourage you to be a part of making a difference in fighting against human trafficking by participating in this race, whether you walk or run. Another way you can support this mission is by donating $24 each month to this organization. Freedom 4/24 has its name because you can bring freedom to women and child being trafficked for just $24 per month. By giving $24 per month you can provide 1 week of education, 2 weeks of counseling, 3 weeks of housing, and 4 weeks of food. Freedom 4/24 is an inspiring organization that does so much for the fight against human trafficking and I urge you to get involved with this organization or another one like it.
We get to decide what our country looks like in the next few years because we are the future. Do you want your children to read about human trafficking in their textbooks and wonder why you did not fight for children their age being sexually and physically exploited? I encourage you to step out and stand up for women and men enslaved in human trafficking. You can do this by spreading awareness of this crisis or getting involved in an anti-human trafficking organization such as Freedom 4/24.
November, 7 2018
Written By: Gabi Cormier & Josiah Frisbie
In Romans 12:2, Paul instructs us not to be conformed by the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind. We want to explore this concept in music and recognize the influence that music can have on us and our minds, and how we can listen to a song and understand the gospel in a new way. We believe God created music; therefore, we should be able to enjoy that gift as a whole.
Thankfully, there is a genre of music for everyone to enjoy. Whether your genre of choice is gospel, country, classic rock, rap, indie, etc. Music is truly a gift from God, and if you are anything like us, then you love all types of music, from The Beatles to Drake, from Disney classics to party hits, from old Taylor Swift hits to Queen… we love a playlist that is filled with variety.
There are many upsides to different types of music. From a Christian perspective, knowing music that is not necessarily by a Christian artist can create common ground for everyone, and it can also impact our walk with the Lord. God has given us music and we desire to enjoy that gift as a whole. Sometimes a mainstream love song can still be sung to God, even though it was written for another person. A great song can be utilized to bring God glory, whether it was written to be a worship song or not. Some of the best beats, melodies, and lyrics come from mainstream music. As Christians, we can listen to today’s top hits and think critically about how it compares to Christian music and how it affects our beliefs. We want to encourage you to listen to what all of your favorite songs are saying and ask yourself, “Do these lyrics bring glory to God, or are they hurting my walk with the Lord?”
What Paul is saying in Romans 12:2 is to not continue living our lives the way that we did before we were Christians, but to live a life reflecting who Jesus is and what He did for us (Romans 12:2, NLT). How does this relate to music? As we’ve stated, our duty as Christians is to be mindful of the lyrics that we are singing and listening to while also recognizing that we can utilize music of all types to bring glory to God, because we are called to live a life of worship.
Our goal in this blog post is not to persuade you to stop listening to the music you love, but to understand the impact that music can have on you. Mainstream music is not a bad thing to listen to, we just need to take the content that we put into our minds seriously.
We wanted to add some of our favorite songs from the SA Staff in a playlist for you all to check out. Enjoy! Mindful Mixtape
Q Union Recap
November, 2 2018
Written By: Stephanie Ward
Last week, we had the honor of hosting Q Union. In short, this is an event that features a broadcast of national speakers, live local student speakers and discussions regarding the culture around us. Q Union is a one night event that encourages students and communities across the country to engage in society’s most difficult conversations. This year, we guided these talks using a topic called The Power of We. The hope was to inspire students to take a practical look at what can happen in our communities when people come together, despite their differences, in such a divisive time in our nation. We looked at topics that helped us see what it is like to be hospitable to those who may not share the same beliefs and to grow in knowledge with those on our own campus.
We recorded our three student speakers’ as well as a Q&A session, led by the Coordinator for the Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement, Jack Carson. You can watch these talks below, and for more info on Q Union, visit their website.
Caleb Brown, Bachelors: Philosophy and Biblical Studies
Topic: Talk About Talking – Why Bother?
Logan Price, Bachelors: Journalism and Theology & Apologetics
Topic: Lose the Moment
Marissa Kusayanagi, Masters: Public Health
Topic: The Value of Her Voice
Preview: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
October, 25 2018
Written By: Avery Watts
“Mamma Mia! Here we go again….my my how can I resist you.” How can you resist great music, amazing actors, catchy toons and spicy romances when it comes to the new Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again movie? That’s right, you shouldn’t resist it!
For those who aren’t familiar with the basic background of Mamma Mia!, I would love to shed some light for you. Mamma Mia! was originally musically based on the songs of the band ABBA composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus in 1997. In 2008, the film of Mamma Mia!, starring the infamous Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried, was released, making over $600 million in box office sales. In the first Mamma Mia! movie, main character Donna Sheridan is a single mother to Sophie, the bright and beautiful 20-year-old who’s about to get married. Sophie always wanted to know who her father was, so she schemed to invite all the possible men who it could be. This movie unpacks the ins and outs of family drama, but also the love and unity shared through the midst of it.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was a long 10 years in the making, but boy was it worth it. With over $400 million in box office sales and Seyfried being nominated for a People’s Choice Award, this movie did not disappoint. In 1979, Young Donna graduates from Oxford and embarks on a journey of self-discovery traveling around the world. She gets bombarded with different romances on her way to her first stop, Greece. At the beginning of her journey, Donna falls in love with three different men, Bill, Harry, and Sam. This movie uncovers each relationships trying to get down to which men is the father of her new daughter, Sophie. The movie switches back to real life where Sophie is grown up and is trying to live up to her mom’s legacy by hosting a grand opening of the new tavern in Greece that she ran. We are reminded of the comedy and laughter that the first film brought by being reintroduced to old characters for a reunion. Critics gave this film an 80%, the audience gave it a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.1/100 from IMDB reviews.
This is one of my favorite movies – from the original soundtrack of ABBA songs to the actors that bring you right back to the first movie. Join us next Saturday, November 3 at the Vines Center at 10 p.m., you won’t regret it!
Five Questions With Marissa Kusayanagi
October, 22 2018
Written By: Erin Diaz
On Thursday, October 25, we have the pleasure of hearing our very own Event Supervisor Marissa Kusayanagi speak at Q Union! We are so proud of her and we know she has worked so hard to deliver a talk that matters in the society we live in. I sat down with Marissa over some hot almond milk lattes to chat about why she cares about Q, what she’s talking about at Q Union, and most importantly, what coffee or tea beverage she would be most excited to receive on the night of the event. Read our interview below.
Erin Diaz: When did you first hear about Q and how did you hear about it?
Marissa Kusayanagi: I heard about Q from a friend of a friend. One of our other SA workers, Kay, introduced me to her friend Mary Michael. We were actually in Nashville visiting the city, and Mary Michael worked at Q as a fellow. I think we were walking down the street to get ice cream at Jeni’s, and Mary Michael was telling me what Q does and what they’re all about, and I was immediately intrigued. I thought, “I have to do that or get involved somehow”. Mary Michael was in charge of starting Q Union I believe, she was trying to get more college campuses involved. She was saying Q wants Christians to be more informed on big issues and she wants Christians to learn how to communicate better, whether that is with other Christians or not.
ED: Why is Q something that you’re passionate about?
MK: For one thing, there isn’t anything out there like Q, at least that I’ve heard of. In this day and age and with the way the world is going (especially with social media), a lot of these issues we talk about have always been here, but we never had the media or phones or anything to communicate about them in such an intense way. Now it’s always in our face and we’re forced to deal with it. Now we can’t walk around with the excuse of “I didn’t know that was a problem” or “but I haven’t experienced that myself”. Regardless, you probably know someone who has experienced the issue at hand themselves. That’s one of the issues Q talks about. Q does a great job of creating a space for Christians to talk about these issues but also get educated. I think we can be scared to talk about things because we aren’t fully educated or because we just don’t really know everything about a topic, so Q has created an environment where they educate people on issues. It isn’t even Q who really does the educating – they use people who are in the field of the issue who know what’s going on and they educate other Christians and give you practical ways to improve the issue or solve the problems going on. The end goal is that they want everybody to come together and for Christians to create a better world. They want people to know how to understand issues regardless of fear or whatever it may be. I think Christians can be scared to dive into social or economic issues. It’s easy for us to say “It’s in God’s hands” and that hasn’t ever been a good reason for us to ignore things. God wants us to tackle issues head-on and I think Q is equipping people to do that. There really is nothing like Q. They invite people in and don’t make you feel dumb or ignorant. They want you to have an open mind to other people’s stories or experiences.
ED: The cool thing you were talking about is that, with Q, you don’t really have to have your mind made up. Q equips you to have conversations that you may feel like you should already be equipped for but that most of us probably aren’t. And that’s okay! We need to gather information, and Q teaches us how to gather information in order to have a conversation.
MK: Yeah! And you never walk into Q feeling like “wow, I’m so out of the loop” or “I’m apathetic”. You walk in and feel the pain that’s going on in the world, and you realize what you can work on and solve. I don’t think they make people feel like they aren’t good enough or educated enough to have a conversation.
ED: Which national speaker are you most excited to hear during the event and why?
MK: That’s a good question. At first, I wasn’t sure if I knew who Jo Saxton was, then I remembered I listened to a podcast with her on Typology. She was talking about how she is a female eight, which is what I am on the Enneagram, and I am really excited to hear her perspective on the world. She was raised in London and she is an African-American, so she brings a rare experience to the table. She will bring in many different sides to issues. I’m probably most excited to hear her but all three speakers are amazing individuals and they all do so much good in the world. I think we can all look up to them in some respect. Scott Harrison is amazing, and it’s funny because he’s also an eight, but he has a really dark past, and I think his honesty about it is rare. You don’t hear about things like that in the church a lot, and it’s cool how his dark past has brought him to start such an incredible organization that is changing people’s lives (charity: water). I’m always excited to hear Bob Goff, but Jo and Scott are new to me so I’m excited to hear them speak.
ED: Can you give a brief synopsis of your talk?
MK: Yeah! So I have grown a deep passion for women, and I think it’s easy for people to label me as a feminist but I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. I’ve seen the way women have been hurt in the church specifically, and that’s where I’m coming from in my talk. With personal experience and also with all women in mind that have been silenced in the church or labeled as only capable of specific jobs, I’m hoping I can bring a little bit of light to an issue that people in the church need to learn more about, even here at Liberty. Still, I hear people talking about professors or teachers that are still speaking on how women are only made for specific jobs and roles, and I just don’t think that’s true. I think that isn’t what Jesus meant for women, and there’s a little part of my talk where I’ll discuss how women have felt this silence of their voice since history and time began. Women have been put in this frame of “you don’t have the right to voice your opinions”, and they have been sexualized along with that. We’re taught at a young age that our bodies can “create sin” for people. I experienced that and was told to cover my body as a young girl because a young boy might lust. I think when you tell a community of girls that, they start to feel like they’re the problem, and it feels like it’s not the sin itself but the woman herself. Hopefully, I can shed some light on that and I hope the church will work on creating spaces for women to feel welcome and empowered.
ED: How have you prepared for your talk (resources)?
MK: This topic, in general, has been something that I have thought a lot about before I got the opportunity to speak at Q. I wrote a blog post for Student Activities in the summer about feminism and the church, and I used a lot of Q talks as research for that. I understand that a lot of this issue is based on personal experience or others’ experiences and not necessarily books. A lot of people have talked on this issue, like Beth Moore and Jefferson Bethke. I have also spent a lot of time listening to podcasts on women in general, not just in the church. Jo Saxton is a perfect example of someone who is so strong but has also felt herself being silenced before. I think most women have felt silenced in some way, whether that’s in the church or outside of it. I would hope that the church is the first group of people to stop that. So, a lot of podcasts, and I’m reading a book called “Bad Feminist”. The word feminist can have a negative connotation and it gets thrown around a lot, but this book discusses how you can be empowering women and you don’t have to be the perfect feminist or liberal to do so. A lot of things like that, and obviously since this is Q and Liberty and we’re coming from a stance of changing the church, the New Testament touches on so much of this. Our whole goal as Christians is to be like Christ and to walk in His footsteps, so it’s really simple the way He lived and treated women. If we’re living like that it should be pretty easy for us.
ED: BONUS! During the long hours of prepping your speech, what coffee beverage from where would you be most excited for someone to bring you?
MK: I think I would really just want a pour-over from Third Wave (hot!). But I also feel like my mood changes – if I want something sweet, I would want a hot matcha from Golf Park Coffee. It just depends on my mood.
To learn more about Q Union and how to pick up your free ticket for the event, visit our webpage.