News - Calling: Freedom in Christ

Calling: Freedom in Christ

Tywon Bender '17


Tywon Bender-headshotPanther defensive lineman Tywon Bender ’17 grew up in a middle class home in Kankakee, IL. As a child, he attended church often with his family and understood God as “part of our household.” But when he was older—when acceptance from others grew in importance—he preferred the freedom the “middle of the road” seemed to afford. After all, knowing God and hearing His voice didn’t necessitate “community” like church . . . or did it?

In 12th grade, it was time to start making decisions on college and what I wanted to surround myself with. I always said I wanted a big Division I school.

I laughed when a teacher said, “You are so much into God and your beliefs, have you thought about Christian schools or universities?”

 “There’s no way I'm going to one,” I said. “They’re too strict.”

Small, Meaningful, Liberating

Still, as I was recruited for football, I also believed that my education came first. That summer I got a call from a small school in southern, IL, called Greenville College. When I visited campus, I had never seen a place so small carry so much meaning. 

My tour guide explained how Greenville is a Christian liberal arts school and that community is something they strive for in all things. I instantly fell in love and called it home.

A chapel service during freshman orientation showed me that though we may devise ideas and plans, we can never really bypass feelings. I thought back to my idea that I would never go to a Christian college that limited my freedom; I was wrong.

I soon understood the gospel in a new way: that God fully accepts me for who I am, not on the basis of what I have done, but on the basis of what Christ has done – that was very freeing.

Called to Community

As a freshman, I interned for the Chicago Bears and also worked in the College’s Tywon Benderathletic office. I was able to meet new people and able to call them friends and family. I reconnected with God through Bible studies and late night talks with hall mates, and came to understand that football was not forever, but that building relationships and connections lasts a lifetime.

Now, getting ready to go into my senior year I realize that God did not call me to Greenville only to play football, but to be changed and believe in His unique community where conversation and just hearing someone else’s story can change lives.

What I've Learned About Calling

We always want the big things in life (like a Division I school) but sometimes building our future requires picking up “small” pieces like conversations, Bible study and prayer. Through prayer, we are able to ask God to just show us direction.

One More Thought

“Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance. However, education is not the cure for ignorance because it must be embraced."

-Dr. J. Edward Thompson

GC Vision: We inspire our students to embrace God's call. Go here to tell us your story about embracing God's call. Go here to view our collection of stories about calling.

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This story was published on December 14, 2016

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