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Retired Sergeant Major Mike Burke finds new ways to grow at Calvary

Retired Sergeant Major Mike Burke finds new ways to grow at Calvary

Life at CU is pushing him to trust God more

Sergeant Major Mike Burke came to Calvary in 2018, after serving 26 years in the Marine Corps. Burke joined the Marines shortly after high school, following in his father’s footsteps. “Growing up, I was pretty much led to believe the Marines were the Knights of the Round Table, and that’s what I wanted to do: go on adventures, travel, fight the forces of evil.”

Looking at how his time in the Marines shaped him, Burke said, “One of the things the Marines does as an institution is it tries to develop this warrior identity in its Marines. And that’s one of the things I started pursuing, ‘What’s my identity?’ …It forced me to start developing who I wanted to be.” The Marine Corps gave Burke strong ideas on leadership, integrity, and influence. “Probably the biggest thing [my time in the Marines] brought out was my thoughts on how to influence those around me. That all of us have a sphere of influence, and that we can be a positive influence of leadership.”

After retiring, Burke came to Calvary to push himself in a different direction. “One of the things about Calvary is it would force me to study the Bible more and I wanted to do that. I couldn’t graduate without specifically studying and writing, and there’s accountability there that I don’t have in the military anymore.” He had looked around at several different university options when his father-in-law, an alumnus of Calvary, suggested he apply. “The doors were just flying open, and I said, ‘Okay, Jesus, I’ll go.”

Calvary supports military members as a Military Friendly Institution, and accepts federal military and veteran’s benefits, including the GI Bill. Burke recognized the work Calvary is doing “to help veterans and let them know that [Calvary is] here… I didn’t set out with a specific goal in mind other than, ‘Here’s my majors and I want to use my GI Bill.” He is pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in Creative Writing and Theatre Arts, “And I’m loving it; I’m having a blast.”

As Burke studies Scripture and theology, he has found lessons from the military reflected in biblical teaching. “There are traits that Paul calls on us to emulate, and one of those are soldierly virtues… In the service, it’s about the guy to my left and right and not me. And I think that’s a hard thing everyone has to learn. If you define humility as not making something about yourself, that’s something the service teaches you.”

Burke compared his time at Calvary to his Japanese battlefield training. “I trained in a Japanese martial battlefield system, and they have this idea called, ‘naru,’ that means ‘becoming.’ The idea is, you should never stop learning or honing yourself or getting better, because you become stagnant and run out of things to offer other people.” He said life at Calvary is pushing him to trust God more “because I have no control or authority anymore. So frankly, I have to spend more time studying the Bible and seeking God’s guidance through prayer, because… I have to trust. I can’t lean on myself.” This need creates an accentuated reliance on God. “It forces me to examine what my relationship [with God] is and who I’m supposed to be.”

Burke served in the Marine Corps for 26 years.

Burke sits on a panel of student directors holding auditions for WinterShorts.

Assembly Preview of Doubt Sparks Discussion

Assembly Preview of Doubt Sparks Discussion

Dr. Luther Smith speaks on a talkback panel after Monday’s preview performance of Doubt.

Monday morning’s assembly featured a preview of Calvary’s upcoming theatre production, Doubt: a parable. After performing a scene from the play, director Bobbie Jeffrey invited a panel of Calvary faculty, staff, and retired faculty to comment on the play. Panelists also fielded questions from the audience. Students engaged with questions about themes of the play, how to deal with abuse in the church, and how to wrestle with doubts in a biblical manner.

Student dramaturg Vincent Matteson explained author John Patrick Shanley’s thoughts on the play. Shanley recognized the polarizing nature of some of his topics, but he said, “I’m interested in the conversation, especially because another word for that conversation is ‘life.’” The play is already sparking conversation across Calvary’s campus as students and faculty address together the central question of Doubt: what do you do when you’re not sure?

Doubt performs October 25-26 at 7:30 pm, and October 27 at 2:00 pm.

President Emeritus Chipchase Ministering Across the Country

President Emeritus Chipchase Ministering Across the Country

Dr. Elwood Chipchase has become involved in several ministries since retiring from Calvary.

Dr. Elwood Chipchase came to Calvary in 1999 from a pastorate in Chicago. He had been serving on Calvary’s advisory board for some time, when the current president Dr. Madison contacted him, asking him to come to Calvary as President. “I said, ‘I’m not going to do it,” Chipchase remembered. “I’m a pastor. I’m staying a pastor.” But after months of Dr. Madison asking, “I really had a tug in my heart. My heart was changing… I said, ‘Lord, I really am of the opinion you want me at Calvary. I don’t know why, except I believe it’s you.”

Dr. Chipchase followed the call and took the role of President at Calvary. “I had an attitude already that this younger generation was a great generation. And when I came here and saw the quality of young people we have here at Calvary, I felt the same way.”

Since moving on from Calvary, Chipchase has become involved in several ministries across the country. He serves as chaplain at Bibleville, a Bible conference center that equips “Winter Texans” to grow and share their faith. The center holds 500 residents in its mobile home park, and offers services, activities, and ministry opportunities to the attendees November through April. Chipchase reflected, “Today I minister to a whole flock of senior citizens which I never thought I’d ever do. But what I’ve found is I have some of the most exciting people who really want to hear the Word. So, at my age, I’m studying very hard.”

It’s a privilege to be involved in the Lord’s work. I mean, why quit? You don’t ever want to quit.”

Chipchase serves on the board for Pacific Garden Mission, producers of the radio program, Unshackled! He also serves on the board for Biblical Ministries Worldwide (BMW) and travels as a representative for them. He mentioned, “Wherever I go people say, how are things at Calvary?” Reflecting on his time at Calvary, he said, “The privilege of being here [was] getting to know the students, praying for them every day. And I’m excited about Calvary, about what God’s doing here.”

Commenting on his plans for the future, Chipchase said, “Let me quote one of my men. On Sunday he said to me, ‘Last Friday was my last day. I’m reporting for duty tomorrow morning.’ And Monday morning, he was here at our church. God gives us retirement so we can serve full time… It’s a privilege to be involved in the Lord’s work. I mean, why quit? You don’t ever want to quit.”

Calvary Staffer Receives Honorable Mention in National Essay Contest

Calvary Staffer Receives Honorable Mention in National Essay Contest

Sharon Manning (right) speaking with Romanian President Ion Iliescu in 1996.

Sharon Manning’s essay told of her time in Europe and her opportunity to witness to Romanian President Iliescu.

Calvary’s Cashier, Sharon Manning, had no concept of attending college after she graduated from high school.

“I never heard of a Christian college,” she said, “so I always wished, when I found out about Bible colleges, that I could go.” The wishing went on for decades, “But God just kept shutting the door.” After fracturing her back at work, Manning found herself with time on her hands. “My mind just kept going to Bible college… And then one day it occurred to me, I looked up and I said, ‘God, is this you?’”

She packed up her life and started the process of moving. “God let me know, ‘You’re not gonna do this in a tidy package. This is gonna be a walk of faith.’” Now, she works as Calvary’s Cashier, continuing to pursue higher education.

When Manning heard about Townsend Press’s writing contest on personal belief systems, she entered an essay on her life with Christ. Her article covered how she came to Christ and how He carried her through difficult times in her life, and detailed some of the unexpected experiences she encountered serving in Romania. “At first, we did mission runs to provide physical necessities, Bibles, materials for underground printing presses, and other supplies to help further the ministry behind the Iron Curtain in a number of what were then Communist countries.” Speaking of her time in Romania, she said, “Challenges came in the form of mobs; bloody knife fights; thefts; con games; detentions; conflicts; and constant harassment and threats from police; border guards; government officials; and others.”

Despite the dangers of life, she found ways to use her circumstances to witness to others. She was living in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, and “I bought an ALDI bag of these rocks [from the broken-down wall].” She wrote a letter saying, just like the statue of liberty represents freedom for America and the fall of the Berlin Wall represents freedom for Eastern Europe, Christ represents spiritual freedom. Manning paired these letters with pieces from the Berlin Wall and was able to give them to “President Iliescu, his body guards, and multiple American Ambassadors and Consulates at the American Embassy in Bucharest, Romania.”

“God just got it through my head. This is a broken world and it’s full of broken people, and he’s still God… and I can’t just quit living.”

While in Romania, Manning’s family suffered a personal tragedy. Manning described the situation, “I felt like, in a moment, my whole life was jerked up.” In her early years before she came to faith, Manning had experienced a deep, disconnected despair. When her life was struck with turmoil, these feelings returned. “Once again it appeared as though my future was nothing more than a black hole of despair and hopelessness, and that everything I had poured my life into had come to ruin and disgrace.” Looking back now, she can see that “God allowed everything to be taken away. But God was there.”

Speaking of her time on the mission field, Manning said, “I think it just shows the power of God. God was blessing us in so many ways.” After leaving the field, she struggled to share the gospel with others in the face of her own brokenness. “But God just got it through my head. This is a broken world and it’s full of broken people, and he’s still God… and I can’t just quit living.”

When she submitted her essay, Townsend Press awarded Manning an honorable mention and prize. She cited it as just another example of God’s provision for her. Manning closed her essay by referencing Joel 2:25, where God promises Israel, “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” Manning said, “From the very beginning, this verse kept coming to me. And in to many ways, God has and God is giving me back the years that the locust have eaten. It’s only the grace of God.”

Calvary Professor Speaks on Mental Health Panel

Calvary Professor Speaks on Mental Health Panel

Dr. Luther Smith, head of Calvary’s Biblical Counseling department, recently participated in a panel on mental health. The event, titled “The Elephant in the Sanctuary,” discussed how to address mental health within the church and from a biblical perspective. The panel was comprised of biblical counselors, pastors, and persons with advanced psychology degrees.

Addressing predetermined questions as well as fielding questions from the audience, Dr. Smith said the panel covered “the science behind mental illness and how the body of Christ can especially serve those who have particular mental illnesses… We also discussed the challenges of mental healthcare in society, the lack of resources.” Smith noted that, especially in more rural areas, “Some people can’t receive care.”

Esther McRae, a Calvary student who attended the panel, noted this as well. “One thing that came up was that insurance companies will pay for counseling sometimes, but almost never pay for Christian counselling.” Both Smith and McRae said one of the main topics of discussion was resources for mental health, and panelists covered several of the resources available to persons dealing with or who are close to someone struggling with mental health.

Smith was pleased by the turnout and the level of audience engagement. There were over 50 attendees, and “It was highly welcomed and highly received. I must have been there at least a full hour after we had ended with people asking questions.” Despite the good reception, McRae noted that some attendees were emotional, frustrated by the difficulties they faced in getting help for friends and family members. Smith said, overall, “I left thinking we have work to do.”


Videos of the conference can be watched here.