by Betty Kraus '07
If we could visit the Billy Graham Community Life Commons together, I would love to help you see it through my eyes. To me, it has special significance.
A few years ago, I was involved in the Envision Excellence campaign that helped generate the funding for the building. This experience grew my faith in many ways. One of the most amazing realizations I had was how much God works through obedient people to accomplish His purposes.
It was also humbling to realize that God does not need our help! But the beautiful part is that He allows us to participate with Him in what He is doing.
So if we were standing outside the main entrance, I would direct your attention to the inscriptions on some of the bricks of the sidewalk. These bricks were “purchased” in 2008 by students, employees, alumni and friends of the college to help raise funds for construction to begin. Individuals and groups donated or raised money for a brick to honor special people or places that are part of their Northwestern experiences.
Each brick has its own story. Here are just a few of them...
Ken and Ardie (Swanson '61) Johnson
Ken and Ardie met during a Billy Graham crusade in 1961 while singing in the choir. They have been married 47 years, and a number of their family members have attended Northwestern. Their son, Jim Johnson '94, is currently senior director of campus ministries and constituent relations at NWC.
Weslie Gray F'10
Weslie Gray, who worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for 18 years, is a current Northwestern employee and FOCUS graduate. Her life has been profoundly touched by Billy Graham and his ministry, also by the education and life-changing friendships she has gained from her time at NWC.
Jeffrey Wipf '85
Jeffrey Wipf is an NWC employee. He was married in Nazareth Chapel and has two children attending NWC. Two of the bricks honor his parents, who exemplified godly living. When his mother, Helen, passed away in 2009, the Wipf family chose Graham Commons as the recipient of the memorials given in her honor.
Myrtle (Barden '46) Kaul
Myrtle remembers when Billy Graham was president of the school. She is grateful to the faithful instructors for the education she received. After graduation she served in India with International Child Evangelism Fellowship for 15 years. Myrtle's support of the building represents her desire to honor Billy Graham and improve the school for future students.
Tim Kowalik is a professor of communication at NWC. He chose to honor his father, Wasyl Kowalik '47, who was the first liberal arts graduate of Northwestern, and his in-laws, Dick and Janice Levering, who graduated in the early 1950s. Those bricks honor the legacy of important family members and reinforce Tim's connection to NWC.
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COMMEMORATIVE BRICKS STILL AVAILABLE
In the same way stones were used by God’s people throughout the Old Testament as a mark of deliverance or remembrance, the commemorative brick pavers outside the Billy Graham Community Life Commons signify God’s faithfulness. These bricks also serve as a way to honor a loved one, encourage students and others, or connect a name with the history of Northwestern College.
Additional commemorative bricks may still be ordered and will be placed once or twice per year. Visit nwc.edu/give or call 651-631-5139 for more information.