I Believe in the Power of the Human Spirit, by Rev. Trey Flowers

In January of 2010 I went on my first-ever mission trip. Our church group traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, not having any idea that four days into our trip one of the most devastating earthquakes in history would take its toll. Had the earthquake struck five minutes sooner or five minutes later instead of while we were in the car, everyone in our group would have been counted among the more than 200,000 lives that were lost that day. Never have I seen so much destruction and so much loss as amidst those crumbled buildings over the next few days.

There’s a story in I Kings that seemed quite random for me until that day. The prophet Elijah was out in the wilderness, and suddenly a great earthquake shook the ground. However, the scripture tells us that God was not in the earthquake itself but rather in the “sound of sheer silence” that followed. That story seems random no more, for while God was not in the violence of the earthquake in Haiti, I believe so strongly that I saw God’s presence in the human response during the following days. The power of the human spirit triumphed over an unexplainable, unspeakable tragedy. Even in the following days when we had no food, no water  and no shelter, the people of Haiti opened their hearts and homes to us. I’ll never forget the Haitian stranger who shared the last of his food with our group when we had nothing else to eat. In the strangeness of that first night after the earthquake when we slept outside with nowhere else to go, our cries of fear were silenced by the Haitian men and women joyfully singing old hymns in a language we scarcely knew – but still fully understood. Despite living in poverty, the Haitian people showed me that when put to the test, the power of the human spirit brings light into the darkness – if only we will let it shine through.

I believe that each one of us is created in the image of God, which means that – even in the people we can’t get along with – our ultimate responsibility is to find the presence of God in our neighbor. Our daily question is whether we choose to harness the power of the human spirit to see what God sees in other people. On the darkest of days, my memories of the Haitian people are consistent reminders that hope always wins out whenever the true power of the human spirit is unleashed.

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Rev. Trey Flowers is the Minister of Youth and The Bridge at Woodmont Christian Church in NashvGA TIB Book Trey Flowersille, Tennessee.  He is a 2007 graduate of TCU, where he majored in Religion and Political Science.  Rev. Flowers also received a Master of Divinity and Master of Public Policy from Vanderbilt University.  He is married to Merillat Flowers (TCU class of 2010) and named their dog “Beasley” after the TCU religion building

I Believe Ice Cream has Curative Powers, by Rev. Justin Floyd

What do I believe? I believe that is a hard question. To sum up the fullness of ones beliefs into 300 words is a daunting task. As I process this prompt I am drawn to the idea of thinking that its a personal creed statement and that rubs me the wrong way seeing as how I am part of a denomination that does not use creeds. Instead, I try to think of it as a mission statement or a visioning exercise. What would I need to believe in order to make the world the best possible place? What do I need to believe in to make my life and the lives of my family successful?

I believe that the world is inherently good. I believe that God loves us and works in the world to make it good. I believe that humanity has taken its foolishness to historical high levels in recent years and that keeps the world exciting albeit frustrating and depressing. I believe that the smile of a baby and the hug from a child can change your day instantly. I believe, through years of youth ministry research, that  ice cream has curative powers and that frozen yogurt must have been present at the last supper.

Lastly, I believe this with all of my heart: If all we did devote our time, energy, money, and passion to making the world a better place, we could live in the world that Jesus spoke about. We would love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and our strength and we would truly be able to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

For me to achieve this, I believe that I need more time in prayer and less time in work. I believe that I need more music in my day and fewer e-mails. I believe I need more beach and less highway. I believe that I stand in my own way and blame others on the regular and that needs to stop now. I believe that all these things are possible through the one who gives me strength.

And because I believe in the power of throwing good vibes into the universe, I believe that TCU football will win a national championship, the Texas Rangers will eventually win a World Series and that one day the Dallas Cowboys will hold the Lombardi trophy and we will all toast to the memories. I believe it can’t hurt to put that in writing.

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GA TIB Book Justin Floyd

Rev. Justin Floyd is currently serving as the Youth Minister at First Christian Church of North Hollywood. Justin graduated from TCU in 2010 with a degree in Religion and Sociology. While at TCU, Justin served as president of the Disciples on Campus program. He stands behind his statement that TCU will win a football national championship and he will be in the stands to watch it.

I Believe in Love by Rev. Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg

I am awed by the expanse of the ocean, humbled beside the great redwood tree. I am healed by down pouring rain, alive when standing on the mountain top.  I am renewed when quieted by the depth of the piney woods, hope filled by the song of the birds. To learn to be still and content is itself a precious gift – a pearl, rare and beautiful.

This I believe, God is in and through all things. God is within the still quiet moments and in the strenuous trek to the mountain top. This I believe, we are made whole in relationship to one another. We cannot be fully human without the experience of love in relationship, friendship and companionship.

As a child, I grew to know God in a loving home nestled beneath the Rocky Mountains. There, in nurturing love, I learned that it is okay to question and grow, falter and fail, try and succeed. In this nurturing love, I learned there is no need to hold onto fear. Fear is the root of our pain. When we give up the power of fear, we also find the joy of hope.

This I believe, human beings are created for love and out of love. Wiser people than I have taught me, through the years, it is not nonsense to think and act out of love. Is love an elusive and impossible notion? I think not. I have come to believe, in every language and in every heart, love is the only real experience of wholeness we can offer or receive. It is the anecdote to our pain -the balm in Gilead.

As an adult, through college years and growing into middle age, I have come to understand that love cannot and will not allow us to stand aside when injustice claims the life or hope of another. True love is compelled to act. True love will stand when others cannot, speak with others are silenced, and carry the wounded all the way…through the valley of death to a place filled with new life. This I believe, a life “on fire” is a life full of giving. The generous heart never runs empty and is filled and refilled with inexplicable peace.

A child beneath the awestruck mountains, an adult traveling through distant lands, and an older woman peering through the woods of middle age, the child taught to explore is the same child quieted within who as an adult stands on the strength of nurturing love, an arbiter of justice and vessel of hope. So when asked, what to do I believe, I will undoubtedly answer, I believe in love.

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TNR_8695-2The Rev. Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg is Brite’s Vice President for Advancement. Dr. Rodenberg recently completed a two-year intentional interim presidency at the Disciples Seminary Foundation, Claremont, California, where she gave leadership to the completion of a successful capital campaign. From 2006-2009 she served the Foundation as Dean for Southern California. She has also served as a missionary in Swaziland of the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, as a congregational minister in Kentucky and California, and as a campus minister at the University of Kentucky. In addition, she has taught courses in Christian Ethics, Inter-Cultural Studies, World Religions, the Sociology of Religion, and History and Polity of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as an adjunct member of the faculties of Claremont School of Theology and San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Dr. Rodenberg holds degrees from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkley, CA (Ph.D. Christian Ethics/Religion in Society), Lexington Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Texas Christian University (B.A.). She has also studied at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, Switzerland, and United Theological College, Bangalore, South India.

She is married to John Rodenberg and they are the parents of Heather and Matthew.

I Believe Little Things Make a Big Difference

Author: Gregory Chambers, TCU Student, Spring 2015

Growing up as a minister’s kid, I often heard the phrase to whom much is given, much is expected.  As with a lot of things that my parents said when I was younger it went in one ear and right back out the other.  Yet as I grew in both size and understanding of the greater working of the world, this simple yet complicated phrase began to become ingrained in me, a part of who I am.

I believe in giving back, I believe in happiness, I believe that the little things make a big impact, I believe that God calls us to do His works here on Earth.  As I reflect on my twenty years on Earth many great memories come flooding back, yet the ones that are the most memorable, and the ones that have had the deepest impact on me, are the ones where I was in the service of others.

One of my most cherished memories occurred when I was helping my father prepare for a Maundy Thursday service.  The night before the youth had done an Easter musical, so my dad and I were not expecting a very high attendance, yet we carefully prepared for whoever came.  As expected only fifteen or so came to the Church to pray and partake in communion, yet one individual stood out from the rest.  An older woman in the congregation came to the service; she sat down in the pew and prayed, then took communion.  As she was leaving she came back to where my dad and I were standing and said “This is the most beautiful service that I have ever been to.”  She then left, as I was standing there it hit me, if we had not prepared diligently even though we were not expecting much we would have never received the greatest gift of all that night.  The fact that we made a difference for just one person was all the satisfaction that we needed.  Just by opening the sanctuary for a time of pray and reflection, we had made a huge impact.

I learned a lesson that night, the lesson is that the little things we do for others in life, often have the biggest impact on our lives.  As I stood their listening to the clock tick in the quiet of the sanctuary I realized that although our time on Earth is short in the grand scheme of things, it is up to us to use that time to make little impacts on the lives of others.  I believe that the little things we do for others have big impacts, and I think back to all the times I heard that simple, yet complicated phrase, to whom much is given much is expected

I Believe in the Power of One

Author: Linda Milburn, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in the power of one. The power of one can make a difference. More specifically, I believe in the power of my canine companion, Tatum. When my daughter was in college, she rescued Tatum from a shelter. Eventually, she realized Tatum was happier in the country than in an apartment, and decided it was best to leave her with my husband and me. I started taking Tatum to the park in town to walk and I realized that people were drawn to her. They would comment on how it appeared that she was smiling and that her tail was always wagging and welcoming. I began taking her to a park in Fort Worth where I was doing homeless outreach and I witnessed something magical. People migrated to her, both young and old. She allowed for walls to come down and it enabled me to start building relationships with the homeless residents that had not before been approachable. Part of Tatum’s charm is that she is ball motivated. She decides who needs to interact with her, even if they do not always welcome it in the beginning. She continues bringing the ball to them until she gets a shrug and a smile, and eventually, the toss of a ball. I watch in amazement at her gentleness with children, even with chaos surrounding her. I watch the hugs and the rubs she receives as she is giving her welcomed kisses. To some of these people, she is the only physical touch that they may have or the only unconditional love that they get to feel, even if only for a moment. I witness the smiles that she brings to the eyes of the suffering and lost. Over the last several years, Tatum has touched many lives and has created her own little ministry. While she has been able to make a difference in many people’s lives, she has had the biggest impact on mine. As a result of our homeless outreach, I decided I wanted to take it further. Tatum and I became a registered therapy team through Pet Partners, an international nonprofit organization. We also became a registered Reading Education Assistance Dog team and have participated in children’s reading programs. Additionally, Tatum and I have had the opportunity to participate in crisis response and group therapy for substance abuse. I credit her and her spirit with influencing me to go back to school. I have since received an associate’s degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling. I am now working towards a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, with plans of pursuing a master’s degree.

Tatum has a gift. She has touched so many lives, but she has given me the courage to empower myself with the knowledge to help others. This special four-legged friend exemplifies that just one can make a difference in someone’s life.

I believe in my Uncle Tommy

Author: Katie Rhatigan, TCU Student, Nursing major, Published fall 2012

I believe in my Uncle Tommy. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer and currently he is in remission, still living his life to the absolute fullest.

My uncle is the wild child of his family. He had the long hair, tattoos, and earrings, is extremely tall, and has the sense of humor that would have you laughing within a minute of meeting him. He has the built of a lion and the heart of an angel. He is a carpenter and has a passion for building anything he can. This man is so much more than just my uncle and role model, he is also my godfather.

Growing up, I was not fortunate to see him often because he was engulfed with his work and lived a couple hours away. That never impacted our relationship though. I would talk to him on the phone and his positive attitude would always leave me feeling happy and optimistic. Whenever I did see him, I would receive the biggest hug of my life and I would never want to leave. His stories from his childhood were always the greatest, like when he would tell me about his car and how it was the coolest one on the block because it had a huge engine and the ladies loved his GTO. I used to listen to stories about him driving it and I could see him reliving his experiences. He is satisfied with life and lives each day to the fullest.

After he was diagnosed with cancer, it was like nothing had changed. Work was still part of his everyday life and he carried on as usual. He had the overwhelming love and moral support from his family to help him get through it all. I am not going to say that there were no hard or low points during his treatment process but I will say that he rarely showed them. Through this whole experience, he has been able to reconnect with the family more and even some friends from his past. My uncle can do whatever he sets his mind to do. When he first started Kung Fu, he did not stop until he got his black belt and when he decided he wanted to learn the guitar, he mastered it. This determination is what allowed him to beat the cancer. Ultimately, he stuck to his daily routine, kept a smile on his face, and kept doing the things that he loved.

Through my Uncle Tommy, I have learned to be unselfish and cherish each moment I have because at any time, my life can change. When I am having a bad day, I think about him and how even through it all, he still will walk around making other people happy. He inspires me to live each day like it’s my last, to do what I want to do, to do what makes me happy.
There will be challenges in life but nothing that I cannot get through. I believe that through perseverance, love, and hope, I can do anything with a smile on my face.

I believe in faith

Author: Laurie Burton, TCU Staff member, Nursing Department

My belief system began as a child and was greatly influenced by my family. I don’t remember attending church regularly until around the age of nine. My oldest brother started going to church regularly and I noticed a change in him. He was excited about an experience he had that he called salvation. He treated me differently, more loving and friendly. His change, from him being basically self-absorbed to this new personality, created a desire in me to change too. I started going to church with him and learned about the gospel.

I began reading the Bible and it came alive to me and made sense. I was convicted about my sin when I learned how Jesus, God’s perfect son had given up his life and substituted himself to redeem mankind. It amazed me that God loved us so much he would sacrifice his own son for corrupt people. When I realized how much God loved me, and that I could never be good enough on my own, I understood that I needed Jesus as my savior. By faith, I accepted his gift and confessed and repented of my sin and was baptized.

This experience completely changed my life. My desires were to please God, know his will for my life and serve him. My belief simply stated is that Jesus is God’s son, the Christ, Messiah, Savior and Lord of all creation. Sin separated people from God. God sent his son Jesus to be born of a virgin and was crucified on a cross as an atoning sacrifice. Jesus reconciled man to God through his death and resurrection. When we believe and put our faith in him, we are born again of the spirit. He rose from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for those who put their faith in him. One day he will return.

It gives me peace to know that no matter what happens; God will never leave or forsake me. My husband and children are all believers too, and I am so thankful for God’s blessings. My parents and oldest brother have since died, but I know I will see them again. These were times of testing for me and put life into perspective. God didn’t heal them physically, but gave them ultimate healing. I miss them, but I know where they are, and that one day I will join them. My mother used to tell me that death is graduation day. We have a God that understands our struggles because he came down to earth and lived as a man. Through the trials and storms of my life, God has always proven faithful. My heavenly father protects, provides, accepts and loves me. I look forward to graduating from TCU, but most of all, I look forward to the day when my heavenly father says “well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into your father’s rest.” Will you join me?