Dr. Ruth Padilla Deborst brought the chapel message on Wednesday, February 2. Deborst spends most of her time in Costa Rica, where she was born.
During her message, Deborst told a story. She used no PowerPoint presentation, but solely the power of language. She talked about Jesus preaching in his home town of Galilee and the responses he received. She spoke of the people who knew him as only a carpenter’s son and their skepticism when he proclaimed he was the Messiah.
“She was very to the point,” Shayla Winn, a sophomore, said, “because she didn’t want to waste any time. I liked how she set up the scene and made it like a story. She implied that we should encourage and be compassionate.”
She spoke about how his own people rejected him and his socially unacceptable commands. He associated with Syrians and prostitutes. He preached to pagans. For these things, he was rejected by his people.
She then urged her audience to go beyond what is socially acceptable, with Christ, and be courageous in proclaiming the truth.
“Jesus’ teaching was outright unacceptable,” Deborst said. “We too are sent beyond as agents of God’s preposterous reconciliation.”
This reconciliation crosses ethnic lines today and cannot be hoarded by a single group. Just as Jesus did not give his gospel to the chosen Jews alone, but also to the pagans, so we ought to proclaim his words liberally without discrimination.
Deborst hinted at the difficult experiences in her past and the results of them. She mentioned the cruel dictator she lived under and the friends she lost along the way, but she gave few details.
“She has stories to tell,” Professor Jim Hills said. “She had the opportunity to tell some dramatic stories and she didn’t, and I appreciated that. I appreciated her restraint, respect for her audience, and I want to hear her again.”
Twenty minutes after beginning her message, she was finished and her audience was left yearning to hear more and yet satisfied with what they had received. She left them to consider the impact of her words in prayer and time alone with God.
“Eloquent,” Hills said. “Those words were carefully chosen and it was wonderful to hear. There were no wasted words. We didn’t have a screen to look at and sometimes those images allow us not to listen as carefully as we might.”
“She left me curious about what more she has to say,” Heather Bellinger said. “I’m definitely coming back.”
Deborst also spoke once more on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Milk Shed. The title of her message was “Women in the Global Context.”