Category: Features


JUTN student hosts Missions Madness: Hoops for Peace

KNOXVILLE — JUTN student Jonah German will be holding a three on three basketball tournament, this Friday. The tournament will be held to raise donations for Jonah and Ericah German’s three month trip to the Middle East.

The tournament is a double elimination and teams can have as many as four players.

Teams must donate $30 to play and must have their donation in by noon on Friday. Teams can also pay online on German’s GoFundMe page.

Teams who want to sign up or have questions can email Jonah German at

The games will be held in the Phillips-Welsheimer Building Gym from 6:30-10:30 p.m.

All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to come out and see everyone play.


Students can earn salt hours with Yoke, transform lives

KNOXVILLE — Yoke is a local Knoxville nonprofit organization that connects college students with middle school students as part of an after school mentorship program.

Yoke has programs meeting after school in 27 schools across the greater Knoxville area.

The club meets for an hour and consists of games, help with homework or studying for students and a short devotional.

“We seek to transform their lives to transform the community,” a current volunteer at Yoke and JUTN student, Jake Brown said.

Brown said that most of the students in the Yoke program come from broken or troubled families and need guidance.

Brown said that by being a role model for these students their lives are made better, which can improve their walk with God, as most of the students in Yoke have no other good role models in their life.

“We hope to be role models in their lives that they can look up to,” Brown said. “I know my life and Christian walk would not be where it is if it was not for a mentor in my earlier life who spent time with me that I looked up to.”

Brown said he started volunteering at Yoke as a way to earn SALT hours to fill his requirement, but he said he soon saw the importance of the ministry work he was doing, and took it even more seriously.

Brown said Yoke gives him a chance to minister to children on a weekly basis, which gives him experience pouring into the lives of others. Brown said he finds that being a part of Yoke is enriching to his life.

For students interested in getting involved with Yoke more information can be found at



JU students reach out to homeless community

KNOXVILLE — Every Friday night a small group of Johnson University students heads to downtown Knoxville. While most college students who travel downtown on the weekend are looking for fun at the local restaurants and bars, these students have a very different mission in mind.

Members of Houseless Ministry, a group started by JUTN students, go to downtown Knoxville every Friday night to build relationships with the homeless community.

Nathan Thompson, a JUTN junior, views what Houseless Ministries does as being in the trenches.

“The trenches are what I call being in the dirty and dangerous streets and doing the actual ministry,” Thompson said.

Former JUTN student Evan Giannakas, a 2016 graduate, helped found Houseless Ministries. The work is now being carried on by JUTN students Shae Frazier, Chase Rigdon and Thompson.

Frazier said that Houseless Ministries’ mission is to be like Jesus to the homeless community of Knoxville. He says being Jesus is more than just sharing scripture with people.

“The goal is to not Bible-bash or save souls,” Frazier said. “The goal is to be Jesus by building relationships and love on those people.”

Thompson and Frazier both said their experiences with Houseless Ministries have been unforgettable.

Thompson recalled that a group from Houseless was ministering in downtown Knoxville one night when a man named TJ began weeping. TJ told them about his struggles and said he was thinking about killing himself that night.

“He [TJ] took off his wedding ring, because he lost his wife about a week ago, and handed it to Evan,” Thompson said. “He said, ‘You hold on to this, I am done.’ And Evan began to minister to him and to talk him out of [committing suicide].”

A few months later Frazier, Giannakas and Thompson ran into TJ, who was doing much better.

The group said they do little things to engage the homeless community, such as playing games, handing out food and clothes and giving people someone to talk with.

Frazier said he believes that even the smallest action can have a great impact on the homeless community.

“The crazy thing is how much remembering somebody’s name will do for them and that is something that we just take for granted,” Frazier said.

Houseless Ministries’ members hope the organization will continue to grow and they encourage other students to pray for the organization’s needs.


Global Learning Center hosts interviews to increase understanding of religious diversity

KNOXVILLE — Editors Note: Some last names have been removed from this story to protect individuals returning to foreign countries.

International students at Johnson University Tennessee are being offered the chance to share their personal experience with religion in a series of interviews hosted by director of international relations, Duan Hua and the Global Learning Center.

On Tuesday night students and faculty gathered to hear students Zoya Kamil, Jimmy and Sarah speak with senior Emma Riley in the series of interviews titled “Religious Practices and Christianity in my Home Country.”

Hua said the interviews were started out of an effort to increase understanding of different cultural backgrounds in the campus community.

“To reach the goal of bringing the Kingdom of God among all nations, that’s our primary goal for this specific series,” she said. “I think the students enjoyed this opportunity to share with the whole campus community about their religious experiences in their home country and bring a better understanding between our international students and the whole campus.”

Riley, who works as Hua’s assistant, said she wanted to be a part of facilitating the interviews because of a long standing interest in intercultural studies.

“One of the reasons I really appreciate Johnson is that it values intercultural studies and its internationals students so much,” she said. “Being a part of that seemed like a very worthwhile thing.”

Zoya Kamil is an undergraduate student at JUTN studying public health. She is originally from Pakistan but moved to England with her family when she was a teenager.

Kamil said she was excited to go to school with her friends in England but realized she couldn’t because she didn’t have her citizenship and would not receive any loans.

“My family and I prayed a lot over that,” she said.

Kamil said that by chance JU President Weedman came to her father’s resource center and, from their encounter, she decided to attend JUTN.

Kamil explained how different the Presbyterian church her family attended in Pakistan was from the church she attends now.

“It’s much more strict,” she said. “Head covering is a big deal, if you don’t have your head covered an elder will tell you to cover your head.”

She said that perceived disrespectful treatment of the Quran by some people in the United States makes many angry in Pakistan.

“They have a shelf above their heads that they put the Quran on, they don’t even turn their back to it,” she said.

Jimmy and Sarah are both international students from China.

Jimmy is pursuing his Master of Arts in Educational Technology at JUTN and Sarah is a part of the MAP program.

Sarah said that she hopes to become a full-time Chinese language teacher in America. She said she found out about Johnson from a graduate at JU that she was working with in China.

“It would be great to know teaching from a Christian perspective,” she said.

Sarah said her mother was a Christian but she didn’t know until she was much older.

“I thought that my family were atheists,” she said. “Many people [in China] think there is some god but don’t really believe it, they just think there might be.”

Jimmy said that his grandmother is a Christian.

“Every Sunday no matter the bad weather she [goes] to work in the church,” he said.

Jimmy said he is an atheist. He said he has been asked since coming to Johnson why he is not a Christian.

“Because I cannot see him and cannot feel him,” he said. “This does not mean I reject god but I just cannot feel him. Maybe I will feel him sometime in the future.

“Some people will say religion is a trick, they don’t believe in any god they just believe in themselves,” he added.

Sarah explained that even though communism is taught in Chinese schools there, religion is still a part of every day life in China.

“If they are in trouble they will go to the temples and ask for help, we also have the church so the lifestyle and the school life is very different,” she said. “We remember our ancestors and the things we practice are tradition even if we do not believe it is still religious.”

Sarah said that a high school classmate led her to Christ after a health scare.

“In the beginning I avoided talking to her but I was also amazed by what she’s doing,” she said. “I sit beside her and she always tried to have conversation with me so I think she cares about me. Everybody is focused on learning but she cares about me. We got closer and she shared with me the gospel.

“Two months later I got very sick, I was so surprised but the doctor told me it was possible I had blood cancer. So at that moment I started to think about life and what is the meaning of my life. I thought about my friend sharing about Jesus and how he died for us and also wants to give eternal life,” she added.

Sarah said that her friend’s mother came to visit her in the hospital and asked her if she wanted to accept Christ.

“I thought if there is a God he can save me,” she said. “It really touched my heart and I accepted Jesus as my savior and even the next day I felt like I had peace in my life.”

Sarah said she recovered from her illness in the hospital two weeks later.

Jimmy said that even though he does not call himself a Christian his time at JUTN has led him to respect Christianity.

“Although I am not a Christian I really appreciate the principles that the Bible brings to you,” he said.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend the next two interview sessions in the Global Learning Center on April 4 and April 18.

International students interested in participating can contact Duan Hua at or Emma Riley at

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Missions team to visit chapel offering recipients

A team form JUTN left Thursday to spend the week with this year’s chapel offering recipients.

Each year Harvesters, a student missions organization on campus, chooses a mission to give all chapel offerings to. The 2016-2017 school year’s recipients is the Mirembe Cottage for Street Girls.

Mirembe’s mission is to “provide a safe home and nurturing Christ-centered environment for young girls who have been neglected, abused and forced to live their lives begging on the streets of Uganda.”

“I am so excited to go back to Uganda and see the girls of Mirembe,” Hannah Baker, student organizer for the trip, said. Baker has been to Mirembe Cottage before and has seen the impact of the school first hand.

“The school helps to provide a safe loving environment for girls who desperately need a home,” Baker said.

The school is helping change the lives of many girls of Uganda such as 10-year-old Nankuke Valentina.

Valentina’s parents are infected with HIV and mentally ill. She and her younger brother were taken in by their uncl,e but he had no money to care for them.

Many girls such as Valentina are being support by Sonrise Ministres and Mirembe Cottage of Uganda.

Harvesters has had many fundraisers throughout the year including selling Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits to raise money to support the school.

“Please pray for our team. Pray for safe travel and that we can help the girls of Mirembe Cottage,” Baker said.


JU sophomore leads group of students to Guatemala for Week of E

KNOXVILLE— JUTN sophomore, Lindsey Tenholder is leading a group of people on her second trip to Guatemala. She gives an insight on her faith and struggles in the podcast below.



Wolf clears up confusion over chapel requirements

KNOXVILLE — Chapel is required for all Johnson students, both traditional and non-traditional.

Chapel requirements are broken down based on full-time or part-time status.

If you are a full time student you are required to go to three chapels a week, whether you are a traditional or non-traditional student. You can either attend or attain credit for these three chapels, through chapel make-ups.

Online students that are still in an on-ground program have the same chapel requirements as traditional students. They make up every chapel online since they can not attend on-ground.

You can miss up to three chapels and still have an A. You can miss up to six and still have a B. Any more than six misses and you fail. That is the same for both students that are attending chapel and making up chapel.

“Where there is some distinction, is what sorts of absences are allowed to be made up,” Dean of the Chapel, Bill Wolf, said.

There are five options for missing a chapel that are excused, a work schedule conflict and illness are two.

For commuting students, if they do not have a reason to be on campus directly before or after chapel, can make up the chapel without an ordinary excuse or conflict. Therefore they are not required to come to campus early or stay late just for chapel.

Chapel make-ups are posted on Sakai in the Chapel tab. Chapel makeups are only available online for seven days after the original chapel occurred.

“The reality is, no chapel absence is excused,” Wolf said.

Every absence is an absence, whether that be a personal absence or an administrative absence, which means the University/administration caused the absence.

Administrative absences include; basketball trip, tour choir trips, baseball trips, conferences for classes, etc.

These kinds of absences do not have to be made up.

“The reality is, the only kind of absence that will be excused or doesn’t count against you is one the school has caused,” Wolf said.

An example of an administrative absence that does not need to be made up is if the student misses due to work study.

If a student works during chapel for one or all three of the required meeting days, no make-up is required.

However, the administration that caused the absence must notify Wolf before the absence will be excused.

Presently the JU Tennessee campus and the JU Florida campus have different chapel requirements.

When JUFL was first adopted by Johnson, their chapel met once a week at 11 a.m. on Tuesday’s. They also had D-Groups that were not connected to chapel.

To bring the JUFL and JUTN campuses into alignment, JUFL’s chapel was moved to 9 a.m. and the D-Groups were attached to chapel requirements to resemble JUTN Wednesday chapel groups.

For the Thursday chapel requirement, JUFL meets five or six times each semester. This is a step towards them having chapel every week on Thursday, to match the JUTN campus.

As of right now, JUFL and JUTN chapel requirements are not the same.

“We are moving toward the requirements being aligned perfectly,” Wolf said.

Wolf said that the reason Johnson has such a focus on chapel is embedded in the mission statement of the University which ends in “To extend the Kingdom to all nations.”

“Chapel is a time in which we come together as individuals who are hopefully living our lives as living sacrifices through pleasing acts of worship,” Wolf said.

Wolf compared chapel to breathing in the air of the Kingdom.

“This Kingdom we want to extend is not just a theory, it is not just an idea, it is a living breathing reality that we experience in Christ,” Wolf said. “In order to extend that Kingdom we need to breath in the air of that Kingdom, and chapel is the time that we put away our books, put away our laptops, put away our homework, put away disagreements we might have with our roommate, we put that stuff aside and just focus on Jesus.”

Wolf said another important aspect to having chapel is in the identity of JU as a whole.

“It is important to our identity. We are Christians, and as Christians we worship God. That is our identity and it is our identity as a University,” Wolf said.

Wolf said that this is most clearly seen in Johnson’s Homecoming celebrations.

Wolf said that where other schools have special sporting events, Johnson worships. Gathering together for sessions of study, teachings, and praying.

“When we contemplate Christ, the Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ, so we come together to contemplate, focus on Jesus and believe in his Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Jesus,” Wolf said. “That is part of how we extend our mission, we gather together to worship.”


Zimbabwe to Johnson:Mission professor brings on field experience to classroom

KNOXVILLE—Brent Brewer has diverse experiences apart from teaching and his love of global missions.Brewer earned a Bachelor of Science in preaching and youth ministry from Johnson University Tennessee in 1982.

He then earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Secondary Science Education from East Carolina University and a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Columbia International University in South Carolina.

Brewer attributes the influence of his father, who was a pastor, for leading him to the mission field.Brewer said he always knew he wanted to be a part of evangelism both in and outside the church.

Growing up near Kentucky Christian University, Brewer knew he wanted to go to Bible college but did not want to attend KCU.

“I came to Johnson without ever going on a college visit,” Brewer said.

Brewer graduated in 1982 and while at Johnson, met his wife Jondra. With no background in missions he “didn’t think that missions was the path” his life would take.

After gaining a degree in secondary education the Brewer family moved to Zimbabwe where he taught Bible and science which he calls an “interesting combination.” Brewer taught in Zimbabwe for 12 years.

Six months after returning to the states, Brewer began to teach at JUTN.

One of the most difficult things to adjust to was “practical aspects of living and working cross-culturally,” Brewer said. “My first five years I made a lot of mistakes, but I used this to help my fellow missionaries who had not realized mistakes, to then learn from them.”

In Zimbabwe, Brewer had a very different teaching style than here in the U.S. In Zimbabwe the students do not speak English as a first language, therefore Brewer had to teach “using simple words and speaking slowly.”

Outside of his field experience, Brewer is known for his love of the outdoors. He enjoys running, hiking and backpacking in the mountains. He also started the cross-country team at JUTN.