May 25, 2024

International Chapel (IChapel) is a program specifically designed for students who are not proficient in English, most of whom are in the International English program. Students play a game, listen to a message, view slides related to Bible stories and then break up into groups and discuss what they have seen. It takes place in the Staples Room on campus every Thursday from 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. Grace Whipple, student adviser in the International Center, explained that her role is to oversee Chapel interns in charge of creating slideshows, developing games related to Bible stories and organizing the speakers who come to teach the story. 

“The traditional Chapel would be a little too extreme in terms of language and knowledge, and you have to get anything from it. Since those students are not yet proficient in English, we still want them to learn about the Bible and the Christian faith,” Whipple said. 

She shared that the reason they simplify Chapel and teach famous Bible stories is so that students can be exposed to what Christians believe without being overwhelmed by what is considered advanced in the traditional Chapel.

Vance Brown, senior international studies major and the spiritual growth intern at the International Center said that his role is to facilitate the International Chapel and he is in charge of creating the slides, choosing the games and keeping in contaCT with the guest speakers.  

“My favorite part in IChapel is meeting with the students that you would not typically meet. It is really fun to interact with students who do not speak English because you get creative,” Brown said. 

Brown explained that many of the international students come from countries where Christianity is a minority religion. Brown shared how he enjoys learning their perspective and level of knowledge regarding Christianity. 

“IChapel has definitely helped me grow in my faith as I have just been challenged to contextualize the gospel in a manner that the students here can understand it,” Brown shared. 

He explained that oftentimes, there is a vast disconnect between an Easternized and Westernized Bible story. Coming up with illustrations and scenarios to make the story more relevant to the students in IChapel is fun for him. 

Bret Vowell, director of Chapel, shared, “International Chapel in this format has existed for more than 15 years.” 

Vowell said that IChapel is one of the highlights of his week. He shared that what makes it so special is the students that he has gotten to know and the conversations that he has had. 

“It is one of the best little-known things about CBU. Not a lot of people know about it, but it is so good,” Vowell said. 

Laura Acuna, a freshman in the Intensive English Program, shared how much she appreciates IChapel. She described IChapel as being a Bible introduction. 

“This was my first time learning about God, and this is new for me,” Acuna said. “We are all international students here – all we need is a sense of family. In IChapel, I feel so comfortable.”

Acuna shared that she found many people with the same goals here who also used to be far from the US. International Chapel and, specifically, the games there, her favorite parts, help her connect with others. 

Tam Nguyen, MBA graduate student, shared, “I feel good because I have a different culture and did not know about Jesus before; I have learned a lot.”

“My favorite part of IChapel is to learn about the story of Jesus,” Nguyen said. 

Nguyen explained that IChapel had sparked her interest in learning more about Jesus. 

International Chapel gives students who are not proficient in English to learn more about Christian faith in a comfortable environment. There they not only hear the gospel but also have fun, make friendships, and improve their language skills. 

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