Diversity & Intercultural Engagement at JBU

JBU's Christ-Centered Commitment

JBU's Biblical Understanding of Diversity and Intercultural Engagement

JBU’s mission is to prepare people to “honor God and serve others.” It is critical to this mission to prepare the next generation of Christian leaders to learn from and about, and lead and serve in, increasingly diverse communities, both regionally and internationally. It is also crucial that we achieve these goals in the spirit of unity that reflects our shared Christian faith. In the classroom, JBU allows students to engage academic material with a global mindset, considering voices from a wide range of people and experiences. Outside the classroom, students, staff, and faculty endeavor to engage, share and celebrate each other’s differences. We believe that this unity in diversity reflects the design of God’s Kingdom and brings us to a fuller understanding of God and a deeper relationship with Him and one another.

JBU centers its commitment to unity in diversity and intercultural engagement in its obedience to the full witness of the Bible and not in any contemporary political, cultural, or academic theories. God himself reflects the goodness of unity in diversity in the mystery of his trinitarian identity. God is one God yet exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 28:19). This triune God created all human beings, both male and female, in his image, so we should reflect the unity in diversity of God’s identity in our lives and institutions. Moreover, since God created all human beings in His image, they possess inherent dignity and worth and should be treated equally as image-bearers (Genesis 1). 

Sin has marred the realization of this ideal on earth, but the Bible is clear that this unity in diversity remains a defining feature of God’s creation and Christ’s future kingdom. In his covenant with Abraham, God promises that all “the peoples of the earth” will be blessed through his descendants (Genesis 12). When the prophets speak of the coming Messiah, foreshadowing the New Testament, they mention that “all nations and peoples of every language would worship him” (Daniel 7), that his salvation will “reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49 and 52), and that his “rule will extend from sea to sea” (Zechariah 9).
Moreover, in his ministry, Jesus crossed the cultural boundaries of his day to engage and befriend, among others, the rich and poor; women and men; sick and healthy; ceremonially clean and unclean; and Jews, Samaritans, Romans, and Gentiles. (Matthew 8 and 24; Luke 4 and 17). He also prayed for unity in the church that reflected his unity with God (John 17). Before his ascension, he called his disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28) and take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1), a calling affirmed in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit among people from many nations at Pentecost (Acts 2), the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), the conversation of Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10), the claim of Paul that the mystery of the gospel is that it is also for Gentiles, not just Jews (Ephesians 3), and the vision for equality and unity among the children of God (Galatians 3). Finally, John predicts that the one, unified, resurrected church will be “people from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7). 

In light of this Biblical witness and in keeping with Jesus’ prayer that God’s kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven, we aspire for JBU to be an authentically diverse and unified community in which all people can grow, contribute, and flourish in keeping with God’s design for our lives as revealed in Scripture. Students, staff, and faculty bring a diversity of thoughts, life experiences and cultural expressions to JBU because of their different personal backgrounds, including how their lives have been shaped by their ethnicity, race, nationality, cultural heritage, third-culture experiences, age, language, sex, marital status, denominational background, ideological viewpoints, ability, and financial resources. We welcome, value, and celebrate these differences in people’s lives as they are lived out consistent with Scripture (for more details about JBU’s expectations for living consistently with Scripture, see Employee Expectations, Community Covenant, and Student Handbook). We also recognize that Christians can disagree about the specifics of how best to achieve unity in diversity, so we encourage people to engage in these conversations with humility and respect.

In some ways, this commitment is not new to JBU. The university was founded in 1919 to educate women and men from rural areas who could not otherwise afford higher education and came from different denominational traditions — a vision broader and more diverse than many higher-education institutions at that time. Later, JBU built on that vision with programs to support children of missionaries, Central American students, and international students (International Student Life). More recently, JBU has developed programs and partnerships to include students with a broader range of academic abilities (Academic Assistance and ConnectionsU) to welcome and retain Hispanic/Latino American students (Creciendo Juntos), and to support students through a multicultural community and develop Christian leaders with intercultural skills (Mosaic). 

Even as we celebrate the broadening of the original vision, we acknowledge and lament that JBU has fallen short in the past and present in fully welcoming, honoring, respecting, encouraging, and educating people who represent God’s kingdom in all of its diversity. In short, JBU failed to obey Christ’s command to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40). It is a failure that misses the mark of God’s justice and causes harm to people made in His image and to JBU’s mission. As a Christian institution, we repent and commit to strive to do better (Daniel 9 and Ezra 9). We strive to live out this commitment faithfully while recognizing that it is only possible with God’s help.

In our educational work, we aspire to equip JBU students to be leaders in the church and the world, leaders who listen well to others, who engage respectfully with people who are different from themselves, who celebrate the good that is revealed in God’s varied creation, who are interculturally competent, and who affirm the truth of Christ with both clarity and charity. We seek his guidance and blessing to reflect the unity and diversity of his church in all that we do to fulfill our mission of preparing people to “honor God and serve others.” 

The diversity of JBU's student body

In 2023, students enrolled at JBU from 37 states and 42 foreign countries. (36 are countries of citizenship; 6 are countries of residence.)

Ethnic Background

African American - 11
Asian/Pacific Islander - 26
Caucasian - 877
Hispanic/Latino - 156
American Indian/Alaska Native - 15
Two or More Races - 74
Not Recorded - 6
Non-U.S. Citizen - 125


Traditional Undergrad: 

JBU Online: 


Other Demographics

174 First Generation Students
112 Missionary Kids