By: Syd Bickers
Tattoo adorned and clad in a Michael Jackson shirt, Compassion International speaker Eric Samuel Timm challenged students to rediscover the calling of the gospel in Thursday’s chapel and afterward called one student specifically to respond.
Timm travels around the nation on behalf of Compassion International Sponsor a Child with a canvas and message of active social justice in Jesus’ name. He also speaks for his own nonprofit organization No One Underground. In order to reach public schools he started the program Painting Hope, in which he uses art to encourage public school students to live with integrity.
Timm opened chapel by acknowledging that students were required to be there and tried to capture their attention by calling on individuals in the crowd. He communicated his message through an art show – meets a comedy act.
“I would say it’s a hipster gospel,” said sophomore Hannah Baird.
Compassion contacted Milligan to see if it would be interested in hosting Timm. Campus Minister Brad Wallace was impressed with the service.
“I think he clearly connected with them,” Wallace said as he watched students linger in Seeger after chapel.
Thirty-five of the 60 children-sponsorship packets Timm brought were taken for sponsorship.
Timm opened with an obscure upside-down painting of Jesus in black. The figure was evident when he turned it right side up and wrote “Repaint Jesus” in red.
“I was trying to figure it out, but I didn’t until he flipped it around,” said freshman Amber Leach.
Timm called students to repaint Jesus and restore his image, an image of relational love in a hurting world.
“He challenged us to take the perception that people have had of Jesus, whether we made it or someone else did – flip it upside-down from what was originally there and make it to the correct image of Christ,” said freshman Mike Mohsen.
Timm urged students to invest in the poor and challenged them to do more than strut trendy TOMS shoes. TOMS is a company that specializes in shoes. For every pair sold, a pair is donated to a child in need.
“We have so much abundance and so much blessing, it’s sick,” Timm said. “What I’m asking you, out of compassion – out of love – to go and do what Jesus says.”
Timm had to make sacrifices out of college. He worked a corporate job making six figures when he was in his early twenties, but he quit his job because he felt God was calling him to witness through art.
“God has a vision for life. What makes that vision come to fruition is obedience and sacrifice,” he said.
Emilee Kreutzer, a freshman, caught that vision. After chapel, she and her friend Breanne Baudinot, also a freshman, hung back in Seeger, where sponsored children packets were displayed. They gathered around Seeger stage with the picture of a 5-year-old Indonesian girl named Claudya Natasya, as Timm tore down his equipment.
Kreutzer and Baudinot planned to split the monthly payment of $38.
“I’ve always wanted to do this or something like this,” Kreutzer said. “It’s different when you hold it. I feel like this is a start.”
Kreutzer called her father because she thought a credit card was needed to place a sponsorship and she did not have one of her own. She explained the calling she felt to sponsor a child with her own money and asked to use her parents’ credit card with the intent to repay them. Her parents expressed concern and told her not to commit to a monthly sponsorship.
Her parents advised her to pledge only one month’s sponsorship. Kreutzer began to cry.
“They said they thought it wasn’t the right time,” Kreutzer said, because she is saving for the humanities tour.
Kreutzer asked Timm if she and Baudinot could sponsor a child for one month.
“Give me the reasons why you are going to just sponsor one month,” Timm asked.
Kreutzer told Timm her parents’ concern and asked him what she should do.
“Do you want the candy-coated political answer?” Timm asked.
She said no.
“You do it,” he said, thinking that Kreutzer’s support would come from her father’s credit card. “You do it. Don’t worry about Dad’s credit card and his payment. I don’t want to tell you to sponsor this child for a month and dump (her).”
Kreutzer and Baudinot left Seeger with little Natasya’s packet in hand.
“They don’t even know I went through with it,” Kreutzer said. “In the end it’s what I want to do for (God).”