This week’s Renewal Week speaker, Randy Beckum, is the vice president of community formation and chaplain at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. Beckum shared some of his experiences and passions with The Point via email.
The Point: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Both [my] grandfathers were pastors. My father was a pastor, [and] always felt “called to ministry.”
Important numbers: Married to Lorie (Orjala) Beckum 38 years, three daughters, one son, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law, two grandsons, one granddaughter
Education and Ministry
B.A. MNU, M.Div. NTS, D.Min/Miss. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Youth and Music Pastor, Frankfurt, Germany
Pastor to Southeast Asian Community, Long Beach, California
Extension Education (Eastern Europe): European Nazarene College
Chaplain / Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies: MNU
Vice President of Community Formation/Chaplain: MNU
What is something that most people do not know about you?
I road a ten-speed Schwinn bicycle from Nashville, Tennessee to Miami, Florida the summer I graduated from high school.
What does your faith journey look like?
I was “saved” many, many times growing up. I gave my future to God when I was 18. That is a decision that has not changed.
However, my understanding of who God is has changed, my theology has changed, my beliefs have changed. I feel like there is still so much more to learn. Jesus once said, Ask questions, seek, knock on doors because there are always new things to discover, always new things to find, always new doors to be opened.
How were you chosen to speak at this semester’s renewal week?
I’ve known your chaplain Tim [Whetstone], and your [vice president for spiritual development], Mary [Paul], for a long time and Tim asked me to come out several months ago.
You are the university chaplain at MNU. What are some of the joys you have discovered in these positions? What do you find most rewarding about your current work? What do you find most challenging?
One of the great joys of being the chaplain at MNU is the opportunity to work on a team with students as well as seasoned ministers. There are beginnings and endings built in to the academic year. We can try out new ways of doing ministry and keep the things that seem to work and discard the things that flop. Students are always coming up with fresh ways to serve and worship. There is no lack of energy, excitement and wonder.
Only one percent of the world’s population has a college degree. The challenge for me is to watch a student miss the point of the experiences they are having at a Christian university filled with caring, intelligent staff and faculty who are all wanting them to succeed.
What are you most passionate about?
Being a loving, generous and kind human being. Helping students out of the sad addiction to violence and competition that is so prevalent in our culture.
What will you be speaking on at this Spiritual Renewal Week?
What if God believes in and trusts us?
What if God does love us with a pure, unfiltered love?
What if God actually does intend for us to join him in his mission?
What if we could really think like Jesus?
Do you have any college student stories/experiences you could share with us?
When your student body president was here, she mentioned that MNU recently experienced a death in the student body but that the school has come together around community. How have you responded to this on campus? What have you found is helpful to students who are mourning?
I’ll combine these two questions: Over the last five or six years we have had what we call “Passion to Serve” projects. These have been student-initiated projects that we have adopted campus-wide. We’ve built a clinic in Guatemala, an orphan-care facility in Kenya, purchased a van for an urban youth center, supplied milk and meds to a child care organization in Zambia and last year we built a school in Haiti. These have been student-led projects and trips that have brought life to our community.
On Jan. 1, one of our student leaders (soccer player, RA, Serve Team Leader) who was passionate about our Haiti project and had been there on a mission trip, was killed in a tragic car accident. We had a team in Haiti at the time. The dedication of the school turned into a memorial for Quincy [Foster]. She had played soccer with the children there and had bested all the guys on the team so they remembered her well. We will take on a project next year to build a soccer field next to the school, in her honor, for the league of 20 teams that are in the surrounding area.
Anything else you would like for us to know?
Thanks for your interest and the invitation to be with you all.