If you’ve ever wanted to get a Hebrew word tattooed on yourself, this year’s Francis Schaeffer Conference on True Spirituality just gave you a few more options. The conference, named after Schaeffer’s book, “True Spirituality,” explores the topic of what personal spirituality looks like in everyday life.
This year’s featured speakers were Stephan and Belinda Bauman, and the conference ended with a performance from singer-songwriter Josh Garrels. The Baumans, in their three chapel lectures, focused on three Hebrew words that shape how we as Christians should live.
The word heneni, which Belinda has tattooed on her arm, means, “Here am I.” The Baumans discussed when we make ourselves radically available to God, He makes himself available to us.
Splagchnizomai is translated as “compassion,” but goes even deeper: it’s “loving from your guts.”
Dikaisosúnē is translated as “righteousness” but also refers to justification and justice. “God’s not judging us on our mistakes,” Stephan said. “You’re good enough because God is good enough.”
The Baumans are both speakers and writers and founded Together International, a nonprofit doing community development. Stephan is a former president and former C.E.O. of World Relief, an international relief and development agency, and is now the director of Cornerstone Trust, a philanthropic organization, and has authored several books. Belinda is the founder of One Million Thumbprints and involved with advocacy groups and nonprofits such as the Justice Conference and Love 146. She also holds a Master of Education degree from Covenant College.
During their lectures, the Baumans promoted the campaign One Million Thumbprints, which strives to advocate for women who are affected by war violence. They invited students to add their thumbprints to a banner they will take as a petition to the United Nations.
Caroline Bair (’18) has been involved with One Million Thumbprints and counts Belinda as a personal friend and mentor. Bair said that she’s seen the Baumans live out what they taught in this year’s lectures. “They were teaching us vocabulary for the way in which they live,” she said.
Bair said the summer after her sophomore year, a mutual friend connected her and Belinda. Bair worked as Belinda’s personal assistant and One Million Thumbprints intern. She then became the organization’s Communications Director by supervising interns, corresponding with donors, and updating the website. Bair said One Million Thumbprints has a pillar of three things it advocates for: asking policymakers to write and enforce law that protects women in war zones, fundraises, and telling stories.
“Storytelling is the heart and soul of One Million Thumbprints” Bair said. “If people are aware of what’s happening, it will awaken the humanity inside them.”
During the conference, the Baumans shared the story of Esperance, a woman raped by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“When Belinda talks about Esperance’s story, you can’t help but put yourself in her place,” Bair said. “Hearing someone’s story transcends distance; it’s able to connect you as an image-bearer.”
But, Bair warns, just listening isn’t enough. “Sitting through that conference and hearing every wise word the Baumans said is kind of useless unless you follow it up with action.”
The Baumans also spoke to Maclellan Scholars at a smaller gathering. Sara Bess Kemeny (’19) said her biggest takeaway was that even though “a lot of what they talked about was changing-the-world type things, really big issues,” we shouldn’t “despise the day of small things.”
“I think a good response is to care about those things but also to be faithful in little things,” Kemeny said.
Kemeny said she felt encouraged by what the Baumans shared. “They knew their audience really well—we’re college students, trying to figure out where we’re going,” she said. “They showed they cared about who they were talking to.” She also appreciated they “addressed specifically the frustration of talking and learning without doing.”
Josh Garrels, a personal friend of the Baumans, closed the conference with a low-key acoustic performance. In April 2016, Garrels made his album “Home” downloadable for free in exchange for donations to One Million Thumbprints, raising twenty-thousand dollars for the campaign.
During the concert, Garrels meditated on “how to stir up compassion when we’ve been inundated with commercials and infomercials since we were children…sometimes there’s a disconnect, if I’m honest.”
“Whatever you’ve been given, that’s for the sake of others,” Garrels said. “There’s a strange spiritual principle that when you allow yourself to pour out what you’ve been given, it wells up in you.”