Lisa Freeman finds plans can change for the better
This article, written by Ed Boling (BA '96), was originally published in Pacific, March 2009.
Like many students, Lisa Freeman (BA '03) entered FPU with a plan. Like many students, that plan changed.
Freeman started as a political science and contemporary Christian ministries major, but her first class in foreign policy piqued her curiosity. This new interest grew, leading her to the Peace Corps after graduation, then to studies at American University in Washington, D.C.
The class that changed her direction was America in a Global Community, taught by Richard Unruh (BA '67), political science professor. Freeman says, "I was fascinated by the concept of global interest, and I began to care about U.S. policies and their impact on the world." Of Unruh she says, "He was my mentor from the beginning, and his classes really challenged me to rethink my views on politics, and reframe my ideas within a biblical worldview, not just a conservative evangelical Republican one. I loved every single class I took from him."
Eventually, Freeman changed her major to intercultural studies and not long after leaving FPU joined the Peace Corps for two years of first-hand, real-world experience teaching English in Kyrgyzstan. As a result of her time at FPU and in Kyrgyzstan, she is now pursuing her master's degree in international peace and conflict resolution at American University in Washington, D.C.
The relationship between Freeman and Unruh has remained strong even after graduation. Freeman recalls when the Unruhs invited her over for dinner after she returned from the Peace Corps, and they spent several hours together talking about the things she had seen and learned. "He's been very supportive of all my endeavors. I am also thankful for his continuing involvement in my life," she adds. He also helped her navigate the path to graduate school.
Unruh said that he is proud of Freeman for taking on the challenge of the Peace Corps and gratified about her choice to pursue graduate work in the program she chose at AU. He believes it is the right choice for who she is and who she wants to be.
Another major influence at FPU was Katrina Poetker, professor of intercultural studies and biblical and religious studies. Calling Poetker's classes some of the most challenging of her college career, Freeman says, "They helped me begin to understand the differences between cultures, and see a broader picture of God and the way He works in the world."
Freeman's time teaching English in Kyrgyzstan really affected the way she sees things and the way she sees God. "My time Kyrgyzstan was very challenging. Of course, it was also very rewarding, but there were some very difficult times. There were periods when there was just one problem after another, and it seemed like I would barely catch my breath after one challenge when another would spring up," she says. "After Kyrgyzstan, I worry less about what could go wrong in the future."
Close friend Becky Kruse says, "She really struggled with finding people to connect with overseas. Another struggle was dealing with the questions about her faith in a non-Christian environment. She had to deal with those questions personally. The time in Kyrgyzstan clarified the direction Lisa wanted to head in the field of peacemaking. Though she's still processing through what that will look like in a practical sense in the future, she knows she wants to focus on the least of these, as stated in the book of Matthew, chapter 25."
Before Fresno Pacific, Randy Mewhirter, of Buchanan High School's Campus Life Club, played a significant role in shaping Freeman's life. "I always knew I was loved by Randy, and I learned a lot from him in terms of loving others, especially people who are different from me," she says.
Freeman kept working under Mewhirter for Youth for Christ while at FPU. Mewhirter has known her for 12 years as his daughter's best friend. He has always viewed Freeman as spiritually in tune, but he says her relationship with Christ now shows in every area of her life rather than one aspect. "Christ's Lordship is more evident now in her decision-making. Further, she has moved from being a peace seeker to someone who sees herself as a peace maker. It has become an integral part of who she is," he adds.