In Matthew 5, Jesus tells his followers that they are the "salt of the earth." The metaphor is every bit as meaningful to followers of Christ today as it was to its original hearers: Even the best gourmet meal falls flat without salt. The same applies to the metaphor of light. When in darkness, people are confused, fearful, lacking direction. But with the light comes clarity, understanding, confidence, wisdom, and truth.
Some who graduate from Christian colleges and universities follow a call to professional ministry. But the mission of the Christian college movement has sought to integrate faith and learning, regardless of the chosen vocation or academic field. Each year, young men and women go into the world as teachers; others are police officers, musicians, businesspersons, doctors, or government workers. But all are salt and light.
John Pistole, a 1978 graduate of Anderson University with a degree in criminal justice, joined the FBI in 1983. His first focus was investigating organized crime. He also led FBI training, evaluations, and audits internationally.
The events of September 11, 2001 turned Pistole's FBI career in a new direction. In 2002 he was appointed Deputy Assistant Director for the Counterterrorism Division. In December of 2003, he became executive assistant director for counterterrorism and counterintelligence, overseeing all FBI investigations in both areas. In these roles, he has grown the FBI's counterterrorism division from under 200 staff to more than 1,000.
In August of 2004, Pistole was appointed to the agency's number two position as deputy director. This is the highest level to which an agent can rise without a presidential appointment.
Pistole says his alma mater fostered "a sense of service" and "encouraged the idea that we should be doing our work for a higher purpose."
As an undergraduate majoring in environmental studies and anthropology at Baylor University from 1999-2003, John Garland interned at a local nonprofit that trains agricultural missionaries. Today, Garland is putting his experiences at Baylor and the nonprofit to good use as an AmeriCorps/Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) volunteer in the Texas-Mexico border area known as the Valley.
In this area of rampant poverty and isolated neighborhoods, he works on a project called Cuidado de la Tierra, established by a community development organization supported and staffed by women who live in the Valley. Its mission is to experiment with and implement energy-efficient and earth-friendly technology that can improve quality of life.
"God has given us the gift of sunlight, wind, rain, photosynthesizing plants, composting microorganisms, the growth and healing of animals, and the urge to explore creation," Garland says. "We are hoping, with Cuidado de la Tierra, to unleash these gifts in ways that will touch the lives of the poor in the Valley with care and grace."
Vacharee Sriswad came to Minnesota as a high school foreign exchange student from Thailand. She graduated from Bethel University in 1973, married Bethel classmate and fellow dentist Andrew Peterson, and went on to start a dental practice for the large and growing Southeast Asian community in the Twin Cities.
This unique clinic employs eight fulltime dentists and 27 staff members. It serves more than 16,000 patients, including South Asian and African people groups, as well as other disadvantaged patients. During its 22-year history, the Peterson Dental Clinic has served more than 50,000 patients, most of whom receive public assistance.