Category Archives: Alumni

The Greg Livingstone Story

Greg Livingstone is a pioneer missionary to unreached Muslim peoples. His love for the millions of Muslims who had no opportunity to hear the gospel led to the founding of Frontiers, a mission agency specializing in church planting among Muslim nations and communities. LivingstoneFrontiers oversees 1,300 workers in 50 countries of Africa and Asia. Livingstone tells his story in You’ve Got Libya: A Life Serving the Muslim World (2014). The following passages relate his experiences as a student at Wheaton College in the late 1950s.

At Wheaton, I met for the first time real Christians who weren’t Baptists. I initially confused Plymouth Brethren with Jehovah’s Witnesses, because they used different church vocabulary than I’d known. But I figured that since Wheaton grad Jim Elliot, who had been killed two years earlier as a missionary in Ecuador, had been Plymouth Brethren, they couldn’t be that bad. Even more riveting to me was my discovery of Bible-believing Presbyterians. They seemed to love God with their minds!

Unlike me, most of the other students at Wheaton came from evangelical families. They’d heard it all before — sometimes ad nauseum. Far too many students were at Wheaton at the insistence of their families, who feared secular universities. Wes Craven, a suitemate during my freshman year, later became a director of horror films in Hollywood, despite spending his first twenty-two years imbibing sound biblical teaching.

In my quest to hang out with the spiritual guys, I got acquainted with an unknown Wheaton graduate, Bill Gothard, who was organizing Bible clubs in high schools. He asked me to oversee a group in Roselle, near Wheaton. Later, I became his assistant as he developed a new ministry. He would often use clever chalk illustrations to explain biblical concepts. Lugging his chalk board from church to church, we visited pastors to explain the principles that were later incorporated into his Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts. Gothard’s ministry was helpful to many young people.

My experiences at Wheaton College were certainly formative and preparatory for the rest of my life. Daily, we sat in chapel listening to some of the greatest bible expositors of the time. I was stunned when the British pastor Alan Redpath spoke on Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares. I worried that I might be chaff — that I wasn’t really born again. I ran back to my room, dropped to my knees, and prayed, “Lord, if I am not really converted, if I am not really yours, I submit to you right now as my Lord and Savior.” I’ve never had to bring up the question again.

You’ve Got Libya is endorsed by George Verwer of Operation Mobilization, Don Richardson, author of Peace Child, Professor John Frame of Reformed Theological Seminary and many others.

A Wheaton College Love Story

The Rock Island Argus, September 19, 1922, published the following delightful love story:

 A romance that endured through half a century approaches its climax at Evanston today, when Mrs. Ella H. Ellis, 73, of Evanston, and Edward F. Fox, 76, of Albany, Oregon, exhibited a marriage license. They were sweethearts when they attended Wheaton College together in 1868 and became engaged then, but Mr. Fox left to finish a college career at the University of Michigan. Then he went west. They drifted apart until both married others. The wife of Edward Fox died two years ago. When he came out and called on his old sweetheart while passing through Chicago, he learned that her husband, John Ellis, a Congregational minister, died 13 years ago. Old memories were rapidly recalled and other events forgotten. “There’s nothing half so sweet in life as love’s young dream,” Mrs. Ellis quoted as they planned their honeymoon.

The Power of Self Command

Today it is common for public speakers to adopt informal methods of delivery. Contemporary audiences  might see the speaker slouching before them wearing bleached blue jeans with a loose, untucked Hawaiian shirt. In some instances, the speaker might even sit cross-legged on the stage, attempting to establish a friendly bond with his hearers.  Straw4However, the notion of excessively easygoing oratory delivered before an expectant auditorium was unfathomable when Dr. Darien Straw (1857-1950), Professor of Rhetoric and Logic and Principal of the Preparatory Department of Wheaton College, published Lessons in Expression and Physical Drill (1892), a consolidation of his classroom wisdom.

He emphasizes that proper posture, efficient gesticulation and precise elocution contribute immeasurably to the intellectual development and future success of the sensibly educated young man or woman. Outward order merely reflects inward stability. “Helping young people to discover ill temper in the voice, carelessness in the walk, selfishness in the bearing and laziness in the words,” writes Straw, “and giving them facility to avoid these, avails more than business proverbs and social precepts.” Throughout the book Straw offers helpful examples.

Straw2This gentleman stands in the drill position. “Heels together,” writes Straw, “toes turned out from 45 to 90 degrees apart, knees straight, body erect, head well back, chin slightly curbed, chest expanded, arms down at the side with the edge of the hand forward. A good test of erect positon is to stand with the back against a door or other vertical plane so that you can touch it in four places — with the heels, the hips, the shoulders and the head. If you find it difficult to do this there is the more reason for perservering in an erect position.  Once the drill position is properly maintained, the student can practice his vocals. Avoid any attempt at loudness,” warns Straw, “but listen to the tone to see if it is correct.”

Straw3Straw later discusses the calculated use of the prone hand and the supine hand. “The primary meaning of the Prone Hand is repression or covering. It is the reverse of the Supine hand, the palm is turned down. It has a great variety of uses, but all related to this primary meaning. The idea of the snow spread upon the earth contains also the idea of a covering. The idea of peace, quiet or stillness contains at the same time suppression of noise or movement and may be expressed by the Prone Hand. There is a gradual shading of this position to that of Averse hand, as we would repress an action or thought disagreeable. As our emotions shade into one another, so our action combines different expressions.”

 

“This, then,” writes Straw, “is an effort to help teachers in giving to pupils the power of self command.”

 

Jack & Jill Ranch on Big Wildcat Lake

Before Camp Honey Rock (later Honey Rock Camp)  became firmly established as a favorite getaway destination, Wheaton College faculty and students seeking a fresh blast of the great outdoors slipped northward to the Jack & Jill Ranch (“for young people, 19-35 years old”) in Rothbury, Michigan, about 200 miles from campus. The 650-acre lakeside property provided an ideal venue for horseback riding, swimming, boating, canoeing, archery, riflery, meals and lodging.

Ranch1

In addition to these activities, the promotional booklet loudly boasts, “Dance music is provided by our own orchestra. There’s square dancin’, too…we’ll teach you right from scratch.” Abiding by the Wheaton College rules of conduct, students probably quite reluctantly refrained from “dancin'”, especially in the presence of college administration. And when Sunday rolled around, guests were transported to one of “…our little Catholic or Protestant churches in the quaint village of Rothbury.”

In  May, 1953, the Senior Sneak, comprising the entire graduating class, fled campus and settled for two days at the Jack & Jill Ranch. Ranch2In addition to hearty relaxation, the Senior Sneak organized a worship service with Dr. V. Raymond Edman, President of Wheaton College, conducting the communion table.  The Sneak, probably gathered around a roaring campfire, sang their class song:

We’re on the road to victory,

And we can fight as you will see,

As we throng around,

You’ll hear the sound

Of cheering loud and free, Rah! Rah!

We are the first in all the fun,

Loyal we stand through gloom and sun;

Pressing forward together

In any kind of weather,

We’re the class of ’53.

Today the former Jack & Jill Ranch is the 1000-acre Double JJ Resort, including a golf course, water park and conference center. The Double JJ occasionally hosts the Rothbury Festival, featuring music from such rockers Snoop Doggy Dog and John Mayer.

More to Gain

a120As professor and administrator, Dr. Bob Baptista, who died at 93 on Friday, October 9, demonstrated firm leadership and sound judgment on many levels during his years of service to Wheaton College. However, he most visibly exhibited his stellar character after coaching a 1966 soccer game, Wheaton vs. Lake Forest. The following article from the Chicago Sun-Times tells the story:

The winners made the protest as the aftermath of an unusual soccer game in which Wheaton College beat Lake Forest 1-0, it was learned Wednesday. Wheaton coach Bob Baptista didn’t learn from goalie Bill Bott until after the game two weeks ago that Lake Forest had also scored. The ball, kicked by a wing on a breakaway, went past Bob Bott’s arms and 50 yards beyond the goal. Play had resumed before the surprised goalie realized no official had recognized that the ball went through the net. Baptista and the officials found a torn cord near the bottom of the net through which the ball had zipped. Baptista offered to consider the game a tie if the contest had no bearing on the final standings of the league. He also offered to replay the game if it should become significant in the standings. “Suddenly and unexpectedly faced with the acid test,” Baptista told the student body, “Wheaton has a lot more to gain than to lose.”

Wes Craven at Wheaton College

Elm Street — where nightmares undoubtedly occur — is located six blocks south of Wheaton College, but Wes Craven never lived in the last house on the left or anywhere else on that shaded lane. In fact, residing near the campus as a student, he rented rooms in Craven3three different homes at various times on Scott, President and Franklin streets. The wildly successful film director, who died of brain cancer at 76 on August 30, 2015, studied English at Wheaton College from 1957-63.  Raised in a strict Christian home in Cleveland, Ohio, his family was somewhat concerned that Wheaton College was “too liberal.” Inquisitive with a touch of the maverick, Craven was anxious to explore the power and passion of language, especially during the topsy-turvy 1960s. The March, 1962 Kodon, the Wheaton College literary magazine, sponsored a Creative Arts Festival with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gwendolyn Brooks as one of the judges. Craven won first prize in the short story category. Serving as editor for the Fall, 1962 Kodon, he prophetically writes:

This edition of KODON will be controversial. It was not planned to be so, and were things ideal, it would not raise a whisper of protest. But the ideal is never here. So be it. Besides, a controversy is healthy, I  feel, and constructive if carried on honestly and fairly. Let us hope that this will be the case in the consideration of this magazine’s contents….In addition, there is the conviction in this office that, in the arts, the Fundamental Christian world, and more specifically Wheaton, is sadly short of its potential and far behind its contemporaries. Therefore the copy of this magazine will remain (as long as the present staff remains), free and limited only by the criteria and the boundaries of artistry.

Braced for the fallout, Craven published two edgy-for-the-era stories, “A New Home,” by Marti Bihlmeier, about an unwed mother, and “The Other Side of the Wall” by Carolyn Burry, about an interracial couple. As predicted, the stories stirred discomfort in the campus community and were not well-received by the administration. Soon Dr. V. Raymond Edman, President of Wheaton College, informed Craven that he had failed in his duties as editor. Consequently, publication of Kodon was suspended for a year. Interestingly, this issue also features work by Jack Leax and Jeanne (Murray) Walker, who would enjoy successful careers as published poets and professors of literature.

As a senior Craven was stricken with Guillan-Barre syndrome, paralyzed for several months from the chest down, delaying his graduation by nearly a year. During this difficult time he was visited by friends and several strangers. “I remember feeling terribly down,” Craven told a reporter in a June 8, 1997 Chicago Tribune interview. “People I didn’t know came to visit, to pray for my recovery. Craven2To me, their thoughts and prayers represented the best side of Christianity. I’ll never forget that side of Wheaton College. Never.” A retired professor remembers Wes Craven as “a fine, serious-minded student” who excelled in Shakespeare and drama. In addition to deep, wide reading, Craven played guitar in a folk band.

Leaving Wheaton, he completed his graduate degree  in philosophy and writing at Johns Hopkins. He briefly taught school in New York before committing his prodigious talents to Hollywood. Specializing in horror franchises, his directorial debut was The Last House on the Left (1972). Craven went on to write or direct A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Scream (1996) and the non-scary drama Music of the  Heart (1999), starring Meryl Streep, who garnered an Academy Award nomination for her performance. He also published a novel, The Fountain Society (1999) and co-scripted a graphic-novel series called Coming of Rage (2014).

 

 

Wheaton at the Edgewater

For fifty years the Edgewater Beach Hotel stood as a beacon for luxury, recreation and hospitality in a city renowned for its magnificent lodging. Famous as Chicago’s “Metropolitan Hotel with the Country Club Atmosphere,” the Edgewater boasted 1000 rooms, several cocktail lounges and five large dining rooms, in addition to nightly ballroom dancing. The grounds included an outdoor swimming pool, cabanas and tennis and shuffleboard courts.

EdgewaterSituated on the North Shore a few hundred feet from Lake Michigan, the massive pink stucco complex served a variety of visitors, vacationers and celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Tallulah Bankhead. Band leaders Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey broadcast from the hotel’s radio station. In addition to an array of dignitaries, the Edgewater even hosted the Wheaton College Washington Banquet on February 21, 1958. The cost was $11 per couple. The ceremony was emceed by Dr. Gerald Hawthorne, and the speaker for the evening was Dr. Edward Elsen, pastor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

Nearly 300 students and faculty attended, with Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Nelson portraying George and Martha Washington. The menu included fruit cocktail, baked sugar-cured ham with raisin sauce, salad, julienne string beans panache and frozen torte with chocolate sauce. Undoubtedly this was a thrilling, noisy night in the big city for the small Christian college from the western suburbs.

Sadly, because of urban renewal and a steady decline in business, the Edgewater Beach Hotel closed its doors in 1967. The buildings were razed in 1970 except for one, now refurbished as residential apartments with landmark status. The structures were so solidly constructed that it took nearly a year to demolish. That happy 1958 Washington Banquet, along with the grand old hotel, belong to fond memory.

Leanne Payne (June 26, 1932-February 18, 2015)

Leanne Payne, beloved author and teacher, died on Ash Wednesday, 2015. Honoring herLP worldwide ministry as a wise spiritual counselor and relentless prayer warrior, the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections present this invocation requesting fresh anointing from God for Christian service, used by Payne and her colleagues during Pastoral Care conferences:

Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Pour the living water in Your presence
on the thirsty ground of my heart.

Make rivers of living water flow
on the barren heights of my soul,
and springs well up within all its valleys.

I would receive power, Lord Jesus Christ, to be your witness
at home and throughout the earth.
Be thou in me the fountain of living water,
springing up unto everlasting life.

You have qualified me, Holy Father, to share in the inheritance
of the saints in the kingdom of light.
You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness
and brought me into the kingdom of Your dear Son
in whom I have redemption
the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1).
You have set Your seal upon me
Your Spirit in my heart as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come.
In Christ, I stand firm (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
For adoption in You, I give you thanks.
For this I praise your holy, gracious name.

And I praise You as the One who sends forth Your Spirit
upon those who trust in Your name:
“Thou the anointing Spirit art
Who Doest thy sev’nfold gifts impart.”

I ask You now for the baptism of the Holy Spirit,
and a full freedom to move in the power of your Spirit
to the glory of your Name and the advancement of Your kingdom.
I know, Lord, that the day is coming when
“the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory
of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hebrews 2:14).
I rejoice in this, and ask that even now, Your Spirit
will fill me, cover me, and clothe me in this way.
I ask, also, for the grace and strength to so walk before You
that Your Holy Spirit will in no way be grieved or offended,
but will remain upon me; be ever pleased to rest upon me.

Father, for this baptism of Your Spirit,
one that will continue to well up from within me,
I give you thanks in advance.

It is in Jesus’ holy name that I pray and receive this blessing. Amen.

The papers of Leanne Payne (SC-125) are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections in Wheaton, IL.

 

Miss Jean Leckemby

LeckembyThe following obituary appears in the August 13, 1948 Wheaton Record:

Miss Jean Leckemby, recorder of the registrar’s office, died from a skull fracture enroute to the hospital after the automobile she was driving collided with a truck the evening of August 6 in Wheaton. Other persons injured in the crash were Mrs. Winnie Hockman, housemother at Hiatt Hall, and Mrs. Gail P. Leckemby, mother of Jean. Mrs. Hockman was taken to Delnor Hospital, St. Charles, where she was treated for a sprained back. Mrs. Leckemby was bruised and is suffering from severe shock. Miss Leckemby held the position of recorder since her graduation from Wheaton in 1941. “Known and beloved by all how knew her for her quiet efficiency, cheerfulness, courtesy and dependability,” in the words of President V. Raymond Edman, Miss Leckemby “was devoted to the Lord’s work here at Wheaton and was a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Miss Leckemby, her mother and Mrs. Hockman were on their way to Moody Bible Institute to attend a relative’s graduation. The 1949 Wheaton College Tower is dedicated to her. As the years progress, even formal memorials do not sufficiently refresh the remembrance of worthy individuals. However, Miss Leckemby, beside her splendid testimony and dedication to Christ, left behind another reminder of her short life. Four scrapbooks, containing photos, programs, cards and correspondence, offer a poignant glimpse  into her happy years as a student at Wheaton College. The scrapbooks (SC-142) are housed in the Wheaton College Archives.

Selma and Wheaton College

The release of the 2014 film Selma, produced by Oprah Winfrey, has stimulated renewed vigorous conversation regarding the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the development of the Civil Rights movement. This article from the March 19, 1965 issue of The Record chronicles the brief but impactful journey of two Wheaton College students to those momentous events.

Two Wheaton seniors joined 2500 other civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, a week ago Tuesday as they marched with Dr. Martin Luther King up U.S. Route 80 to the place where state troopers turned them back without incident. Leaving Wheaton Monday, March 8, after hearing of the brutalities Sunday afternoon, Randy Baker and Bob Vischer arrived in Selma by 11 a.m.  Tuesday, March 9. Explaining their motives for going, Vischer said, “I could think of no better way to express my concern than through action.” Upon their arrival in Selma, they found several hundred Negroes and whites – citizens, students, clergy, newsmen and polices – gathered in front of Brown Chapel. Entering the church, where another group of 300 to 400 were gathered, they heard various speakers, including many prominent religious leaders, talk for two or three hours.

As they left the church after Dr. King’s final admonitions, said Vischer, they were given instructions by a medical doctor as to precautions in case they should be tear-gassed, knocked unconscious or hurt with broken bones. As he and Baker marched in the front-quarter of the line, which ran four-abreast, someone told Vischer to take off his glasses. For the first time, he realized the real possibility of physical harm. “I began to see a little of the importance which the people of Selma and others in the march attached to the obtaining of equal rights,” he commented.

Confronting the state police about 200 yards across the Alabama river, King decided they would have a service of prayer and singing there instead of attempting to march through to Montgomery, having been influenced by federal mediation. After singing several verses of “We Shall Overcome” and listening to the prayers of several clergymen, the demonstration turned back to Selma. As they marched both to and from the place of confrontation with the troopers, Vischer recalled, “There was the knowledge that each of the 2500 in the march was dead serious about his task of bringing this injustice before the eyes of the nation and the world and that each was willing to risk death for this.”

After the march had been completed, Baker and Vischer encountered further danger as they went downtown to pick up their car to leave. As the two walked alone down the sidewalk, four white men stepped in front of them and asked where they were marching. Vischer stepped back and replied that they were not marching anywhere. But Baker, who did not step back, was grabbed by the largest and slugged on the side of the head. After Baker had pulled his coat away, the two started a fast walk across the street, but changed when they saw more men on the other side. “At this point,” remarked Vischer, “I felt I could empathize with the Alabama Negro, for here I was being pursued, and with no place to turn to. We felt alone and weaponless. I have never been so frightened in all my life.”

Later, however, the two stressed that undoubtedly the majority of the people of Selma would not have used violence against them or against the Rev. James Reeb, the minister who was killed later that afternoon. Yet, they said, “The scum who carried out these activities are supported by the system which presently exists – and this system must be smashed by a bold show of Christian love.”