Keeping Faith Impacts Students

Gifts Help Keep JBU Affordable

By Jessa Parette Eldridge '11 & Johanna Merwin '12
6/28/2018 4:47:43 PM

The Keeping Faith Campaign includes more than $43 million for scholarships. These gifts help students afford the top-ranked, Christ-centered higher education JBU offers, putting them on a trajectory of honoring God and serving others.

Chris Eads: How to Find Beauty in the Unfamiliar

Many state schools offered to pay Chris Eads ‘11 to attend. They also offered him a new Macbook and a monthly stipend, but he decided to come to JBU instead. Unlike the state schools, JBU had a strong music program with a worship ministry degree. So, Eads contacted Admissions and applied to JBU. With loans and scholarships, he was able to attend in the Fall of 2007.

“I wouldn’t have been able to come to JBU without financial aid. It’s an incredible blessing,” Eads said.“I wouldn’t trade my choice... the education I got at JBU is worth so much more.”

Eads became a Christian after his parents divorced and his grandmother began taking him to church. Although they supported his decision to come to JBU, his parents could not understand why he would choose a school that did not pay him to attend.

“They didn’t really know why I wanted to major in worship ministries,” Eads said. During his junior year, Eads married Sarah Kientz ‘10, a fellow music student. Although being a married student was not easy, Eads found that the challenges of education came with encouragement. Hundreds of JBU students have benefited and will benefit from the scholarships created in the Keeping Faith Campaign

“I never imagined I’d have an education that allowed me to relate to my God and my community equally well in a charismatic church setting and in a high-liturgy Anglican setting.  But because of JBU, that’s possible,” Eads said. “Probably the most valuable aspect of my education was the broadening of my understanding of Christianity as it pertains to both high theology and everyday life.”

When asked what made JBU unique enough to turn away full scholarships, Eads said it was “the level of investment the professors have in their students.  I’ve had professors take me to coffee or invite me over for dinner, which are both fairly superficial things by themselves, but they do so in order to get to know me.”

Eads graduated May 2011 with a double major in Worship Ministries and Biblical Studies. He plans to attend graduate school. “My professors challenged me, but I’ve definitely done my fair share of challenging others as well…I feel like that’s one of my callings in life,” he explained. “I want to be able to help others see the beauty in unfamiliar traditions.”

Jeremy Enders: JBU Kept Providing More

Jeremy Enders ’14 wears his father’s military jacket proudly, not just because his dad flew helicopters for the army for thirty years, but because God healed his father after an electric shortage caused a near-fatal crash in 2004. However, his father suffered a broken back and has residual numbness in his legs, so it fell to Enders’ mother to financially support the family.

In 2009, the Enders family hit another difficulty when the market began to crash and the economy took a downturn. By now Enders was a senior in high school, and with tight family finances, he greatly needed scholarships. After applying to several different schools and meeting personally with the financial counselors, Enders realized that many universities had few resources to offer.

JBU was different.  “Many schools were retracting funds from available scholarships, but JBU was the only school that kept providing more,” Enders says. “They kept working with me, not against me, so that my family could find a way to send me here. I am very thankful for that.”

Enders is now an honors student double majoring in international business and business administration with the hopes of one day starting a humanitarian for-profit company that works in impoverished countries.

“I am now the sophomore senator for the student government association and am really looking forward to getting involved in SIFE or LSI,” Enders says. “I want to not only help people and communities grow, but I also want to inspire other companies to do the same.”

Maria Johnson: God Doesn’t Waste Our Pain

“God doesn’t waste our pain,” Mariah Johnson ’12 said. “Today, I am walking out a plan God obviously has for me, one that my fears and lack of resources were holding me back from. I am in the midst of one of my biggest steps of faith and obedience.”

Johnson was not raised in a Christian home, and a traumatic childhood event left her victim to heartache and pain and self-destructive behMaria Johnsonavior for years. When she was 22, Johnson was hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer and deep depression. The woman in the next bed shared with Johnson the love, joy and acceptance that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Overwhelmed by the hope of Christ, Johnson accepted Jesus as her Savior.

Through the years, Johnson and her husband took every opportunity to listen to and love people. Knowing full well the power of encouragement in her own life, Johnson taught discipleship classes, mentored young people, and ministered in Washington County Jail.

Then, in 2007, Johnson experienced a family crisis that shook her trust in God. Hurt and broken, Johnson took a custodial job for Samaritan House and met interns from JBU who encouraged her to finish a degree in counseling. The administration at Samaritan House also urged Johnson to complete her degree, but she was certain she would not find the funds for a college education.

“I saw all the reasons why it wasn’t a practical decision,” Johnson said.  “But if it is God, He’s going to make a way. I was still trying to support my own kids through college, but counseling is what I’ve been doing for years. I love people and I love being a part of their lives.”

Johnson applied to JBU and the financial aid package she received stood as confirmation from God to respond to the urgings of those around her. Due to the additional resources that became available due to the Keeping Faith Campaign, Johnson enrolled at JBU. She is studying Family and Human Services and plans to receive a master’s degree in Family Counseling.  Ultimately, Johnson wants to build cottages on her land to house and mentor young mothers and children while equipping them to succeed in life. “JBU is another step in God’s redemptive plan for my life. I am truly grateful,” Johnson says.

Morgan Honnold: The Gift of Higher Education

Morgan Honnold ’12 never wanted to go to college. Since she was nine-years-old, Honnold planned to go to India to combat social injustice and serve the poorest of the poor. After graduating high school, Honnold went to India, only to find that she kept hearing about a school called John Brown University.

“Two important things happened while I was in India,” said Honnold. “First, I met and worked with several JBU alumni who were loving the Lord and people of India in incredible ways. Second, I realized that I could not take for granted the invaluable gift of higher education which was so readily available to me in America.

After much prayer and Godly counsel, Honnold returned to the states and enrolled in a community college in Kansas City, Missouri, to earn an associate’s degree in liberal arts.

Honnold left America again in 2009 for Bethlehem, Israel. While she was there, Honnold studied Arabic and worked with different non-profit organizations in the area, one of which was run by two JBU alumni. After returning to the States, Morgan began her search to finish her Bachelor’s degree. “As I was looking at what kind of a school I wanted to transfer to, I knew I wanted a small, private, liberal arts Christian college but most of those schools were outside of my financial capacity,” said Honnold. “I knew that graduating with debt wasn’t an option if I wanted to live overseas.”

Finally, the JBU seed planted in India and Israel spouted. Honnold met another JBU alumni in Kansas City who urged her to visit the campus. When Honnold visited JBU, she knew it was where she wanted to go to school. She applied in faith, knowing the JBU price tag was much more than she could afford. Honnold is a student at JBU because of the JBU Scholarship Fund and Endowment.

“My time here isn’t just a foundation for my academic career, it’s a part of the foundation of my faith. What the Lord does in and through me here at JBU will impact what the Lord will do in and through me wherever I go.”

Sovannary Cheng: God Can Change the Impossible

Sovannary Cheng ‘14 was born in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia and will graduate from John Brown University as the first generation in her family to receive a college degree. After her family moved to BentonSovannary Chengville, Arkansas, Cheng’s neighbor introduced her to an uplifting radio station called KLRC. From listening, Cheng heard about a private Christian college called John Brown University.

“I became interested after learning about KLRC and its ministry in Northwest Arkansas,” she says. Unfortunately, Cheng’s family could not afford to send her to JBU and looked at different colleges in Arkansas, even considering Northwest Arkansas Community College. Still determined, she decided a different college would only delay her education at JBU, not eliminate it.

“I had decided if I could not come to JBU right after high school, I would take some classes at NWACC and would transfer to JBU when our finances became more stable,” Cheng explains.

Due to the Keeping Faith Campaign, Cheng’s family was offered additional financial resources, making it possible for her to attend. When she got to JBU, she was voted the Freshmen Senator in the Student Government Association and joined several on-campus ministries.
What excites Cheng about being at JBU? “Being a JBU student,” she says. “Being a student in a caring community that reaches out to spread God’s love.”


Jessa Parette Eldridge '11 is staff editor and writer for university communication.

Johanna Merwin '12 is coordinator of university events for John Brown University

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