Leap of Faith

by Evanne Marie Christian '76

Since early childhood, I always had two visions for my life, equally passionate and powerful. I wanted a life in the performing arts. I also wanted a life in service to God.

When my parents originally asked the 17-year-old me what ideas I had about colleges (because in my family, going to college following high school was not an option, it was an assumption!), I nonchalantly answered that I was considering either the School for Performing Arts in San Diego, or Bethany Bible College. My parents responded by taking me to spend a day in Claremont, where I promptly fell in love with Scripps. I have always been grateful for their loving wisdom. I managed to please my parents by majoring in American and British literature, and I also pleased myself with a second major in theatre.

On graduation day, as I was giving the farewell speech to the Class of ’76, I realized that at Scripps I had managed to have my cake and eat it, too. Would such a deal be possible in what I thought of as “real life”?

Over the next 25 years, I was blessed with a successful career in the performing arts, achieving credits ranging from New York’s Off-Broadway arena to Edinburgh’s International Arts Festival fringe. I met, worked with, and often became friends with some of the most talented people in the world. I was happy, but I was never content. Part of me still yearned to fulfill that second, more spiritual side of my nature.

Unexpectedly unemployed following the tragic events of September 11, like many other Americans I found myself at a crossroads. Challenged by a new view of the future, I realized that I had actually been granted a wonderful opportunity to
wonder and dream, to question and explore.What did I want to do with the rest of my life? Were there lessons to be learned from 9/11 that could guide me in a different direction? Would I be able to pursue a new vocation despite the fact that I was now middle-aged? Did I have the courage to take a flying leap of faith?

After much soul searching, I simply trusted that God would provide.Thanks in part to the inspiration of Scripps’ humanities-based vision (which allowed me to take courses in everything from religion to women’s studies), I had always
been a student of more than just literature and the arts. So, when the time was right, I was prepared to make what seemed to others to be major vocational changes. My work in the performing arts had primarily been in the not-for-profit sector, and so I decided I now needed to try the other side of that coin in social service. I made a list of all the non-profit organizations that appealed to my sense of social justice, and began a typical job search process.

The job I eventually accepted is far from typical. Currently, I am working for Good News Partners, a faith based, non-profit organization located in Chicago. GNP’s mission is to provide housing solutions for homeless families and individuals.

With properties ranging from a shelter for women and their children to co-operative apartment buildings, GNP is able to alleviate the problems associated with homelessness in an impoverished community where underprivileged people were overwhelmed by hopelessness. Good News Partners helps people of all races, creeds, and religions, but thanks to the vision of the founder, the Rev. Arthur “Bud” Ogle, those of us on staff who believe in God’s love know that it is responsible for the organization’s success. I see miraculous changes for good happening in people’s lives everyday, and I know that I am blessed to be a small part of those changes. I look forward to my future with the same sense of joy, enthusiasm, and gratefulness that I feel when I look back on my past. Now, I believe that at its conclusion, my whole life will have been what it was meant to be.

One of my favorite authors, George Eliot, once said that it is never too late to be what you always wanted to be. I thank
God that I can testify to the truth of that statement. Not only can one have one’s cake and eat it, but it can be shared with
others, too, making it all the more (ful)filling!