By Kathryn Moore
When students walked into the G.M. Savage Chapel during the 10 a.m. hour March 13, they expected to sing familiar worship songs and listen to a sermon given by a popular Southern Baptist pastor.
Instead, attendees were surprised to hear Scripture readings in several different languages and an interview-style conversation about the importance of spreading the Gospel to the nations.
This annual event, CultureFest, was a daylong celebration that focuses on the diverse cultures represented at Union.
Sponsored by the InterCULTURAL CommUNITY Council and MOSAIC, the celebration kicked off with a chapel service titled “The Church Around the World.”
International students and the MOSAIC choir joined the chapel worship band in praising God in different languages through song, Scripture and responsive readings.
George Guthrie, Union’s Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible, conducted a question-and-answer session with Denis Bisangwa, a sophomore business administration major from Rwanda.
In the interview, Bisangwa compared the faith of Americans with the faith of his Rwandan friends and family.
“Here, it’s very structured,” Bisangwa said. “Our (Rwandan) faith is more dependent on God. People have strong faith because they don’t depend on anything else. The people (in Rwanda) need education, and the people here need encouragement.”
The service continued with a short video about the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine and how it affects Christians on both sides of the conflict.
Guthrie, who taught a class on the book of Hebrews to Messianic Jews in Palestine this January, and David Carothers, assistant director of student mobilization and leader of the January Global Opportunities trip to Israel, discussed the constant conflict these Christians experience every day.
“We do not understand what it’s like to live in that tension,” Carothers said. “And then for believers, you add on an additional layer of conflict that divides families and neighborhoods.”
Guthrie ended the chapel service by performing a song his students taught him in Palestine called “Ram v’nisa haMashiach,” which translates to “High and Exalted the Messiah.”
After chapel, nearly 20 international students set up booths in the Student Union Building main hallway to display artifacts from their home countries.
Yumi Miyazaki, senior political science major from Japan, said she wanted to participate to educate others about her culture.
“In Japan, we only have Japanese people,” Miyazaki said. “Here in the United States, you have all different kinds of culture and people. It’s important to take advantage of the chance to learn from other people.”