New group promotes faith through sports
Oct13

New group promotes faith through sports

Political unrest dragged the Karen people from their homes as their patty fields and barns were incinerated by the Burmese government.   Thailand native and sophomore exercise sports science major TJ Greeson once traveled to makeshift Karen villages nestled between the more than 8,000-foot peaks, which divided Burma and Thailand to share Christ through sports.   “These villages have schools set up for the children,” Greeson said. But often times, the parents were not so fortunate to make it to the refugee villages.   He continued, “Most of these children have seen their parents killed or imprisoned.”   In addition to hiking gear, Greeson toted his Bible and ball.   He was a senior in high school at the time in a sports leadership class, “which is learning how to be a Christian athlete,” he said.   Sports offered the Karen children a chance to connect with God and provided them a reprieve from the struggles they faced. Along the way, it taught them about one of the most important aspects of sports––attitude.   So, when creating a new ministry known as Called to Play, Greeson took to heart the belief that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.   “We bridge the gap between sports and Christ,” he said.   Greeson believes sports are a gift from God, meant for His glory.   “It’s all about attitude, godly attitudes, and how that can change their lives outside of sports,” he said.   Called to Play teaches biblical concepts to athletes like humility, respect for officials and positive, uplifting communication. The idea is that those attitudes benefit life’s other facets.   The ministry came to fruition over the summer, beginning with a conversation between Greeson and Junior Christian major Quinton Payton.   Philippians 3:14 surfaced as their guiding verse.   The New International Version says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”   Greeson said, “God has called us to do something with our lives.”   He believes the calling for those involved in this new ministry is to disciple children.   Right now, the group is comprised of about 15 to 20 students, but has hopes to grow.   “We are making a difference here and that’s exactly what UMHB wants from its students,” Payton said.   Called to Play held its first soccer camp March 29.   On Oct. 25, they will host a basketball in the Temple’s Canyon Creek area. “We like to get students in the range of 1st to 5th grades,” Payton said, “just because they are ready...

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Davis vs. Abbott: A historic fight
Oct13

Davis vs. Abbott: A historic fight

Ever since Governor Rick Perry announced last year that he would not seek re-election for a fourth term, Texas students knew it would be a more interesting gubernatorial election cycle than usual, prompting hopes of more involvement among their peers.   Although polls favor Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, Wendy Davis, famous for her hotly contested abortion filibuster, is fighting hard to become Texas’ first democratic governor in 20 years.   In the televised debate in McAllen,   Texas, which aired Wednesday, Sept. 24, the two went head-to-head on issues ranging from Ebola to abortion. A particularly hot topic, was border security, especially as it was held in the Rio Grande Valley.   “If the federal government will not act to secure our border, Texas must, and we will. And I did support the surge of DPS troops to our border,”  Davis responded concerning Perry’s contested decision to beef up security using state funds when the federal government has been slow to protectthe U.S. border.   Though Davis was adamant about her passion for border security, Abbott pointed to the fact that she did not present voters with any concrete course of action.   He said, “I’m the only candidate on this stage tonight who’s outlined a plan…. My plan ensures that we add 500 DPS officers to help secure the border…. I add 20 Texas Rangers. I add efforts to ensure public integrity. Plus, I provide tools and resources and technologies we need to better address the problems.”   Abbott also says he will go after the gang-related activity, which is a large source of the violence.   One of the three moderators asked about the Latin American immigration problem and concerns that it has spurred anti-Hispanic sentiment.   Abbott used this opportunity to highlight his 33-year-long marriage to a hispanic woman, saying, “If the people of Texas elect me to be the governor, my wife will be the first Hispanic first lady in the history of this state, and I think that is setting a new tone in our ability to connect with voters across the state.”   Davis responded to the same question in a broader way by saying, “Everyone in our state wants their children to have opportunities … and that we’re providing that for every child no matter who they are, no matter how rich or poor, no matter their race….”   Students are expressing frustration with their peers concerning their lack of engagement in the political     process this election season.   One in particular, senior political science major Loren Cowen, said, “There is no single issue that...

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Alumnus and former alcoholic sheds light, creates buzz
Oct13

Alumnus and former alcoholic sheds light, creates buzz

“NO!” the audience shouted as the lights dimmed and the fates of thousands of lives were altered. This response was provoked by the cliff-hanger ending to the play My Name is Bill: An Afternoon with an Alcoholic. When the only character on stage turned to the rows of faces and asked if he should take a drink or not, the crowd in Hughes Hall answered with one word and a standing ovation.   When Bryan Bounds attended UMHB, he said he had no idea he would one day be caught in the clutches of alcoholism.   But that was exactly his condition when a friend told him the story of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, which helped him recover from his illness.   Bounds is the single performer and author of the play, which has received rave reviews over its five year tour in Europe. The performance in UMHB’s Hughes Hall served as its American premiere.   “You know if you have a story that you want to tell … sometimes (it) won’t go away until you tell that story,” Bounds said. “And that’s how this play was with me. Partly because I’m a recovered alcoholic myself, and I felt that a theater presentation would be a good way to tell the story of the man who started the recovery movement.”   Bounds conducted a vast amount of research in order to write this play about the New York stockbroker who founded AA in the 1930s.   The play depicts an afternoon in the life of Wilson when he hits rock bottom and makes an important decision.   When Wilson made it through the afternoon without drinking, he ensured the success of AA, which in turn, has helped thousands to recover from alcoholism.   The university was selected for the first performance in the states because it served as a homecoming for Bounds.   Also, his mother, who lives in Temple, has wanted to see the play but hasn’t been able to make the trip to England.   After the show was over, he recognized his mother, who worked at UMHB for 30 years.   Bounds grew up in Temple and earned his undergraduate English degree at UMHB.   Next, he moved to the University of Texas to complete his masters before moving to Houston where he worked for NASA, giving briefings to the public about the space program.   He started his professional acting career in Houston, a city with one of America’s largest theater districts, before he moved to New York where he met his wife, who was visiting from England. After they married, they...

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Illiteracy: Reading into the real issue
Oct12

Illiteracy: Reading into the real issue

Tucked away in the passages of Hardy Hall, the former dining building that still smells like lukewarm pizza, junior nursing major Dania Paraan helps a student learn the inner workings of the integumentary system for an anatomy and physiology test.   “My students seem to know what they’re doing,” Paraan said. “They just need help transitioning to college life.”   Paraan, who works as a tutor at the university’s Center for Academic Excellence says most of her students have the literacy skills needed to succeed in college.   “It’s just learning to put knowledge to paper,” Paraan said.   While most UMHB students have the basics of reading and writing down, 19 percent of Texas adults still struggle to read the newspaper.   “Statistics (of illiteracy) are overwhelming. It’s a greater problem than we realize,” said Beverly Luedke, member of Altrusa International of Temple, an organization working to support literacy around the world.   In Bell County alone, 13 percent of adults lack basic prose literacy skills, meaning they range from being unable to read and understand any written information to being able only to locate easily identifiable information.   “We see a relationship between literacy and poverty. Two-thirds of children who live in poverty do not have a single children’s book,” explained Dr. Joan Berry, chairperson of the UMHB education department.   “We see tax dollars diminished for public libraries and the decline of newspapers which helped adult literacy in the past,” she said.   Berry pointed out the growing digital divide between families in poverty and more affluent families as reading materials are moved to computers and smart phones as technology rapidly develops.   “So much of our information now is accessed from our phones which may not be possible for a family living in poverty. We must work on community projects that place reading materials in the hands of those living in poverty,” Berry said.   Illiteracy isn’t just an educational or subjective issue; it also has economic repercussions.   According to the United Ways of Texas, high school dropouts cost taxpayers in Texas, an estimated $9.6 billion.   “We have so few jobs in Texas and everywhere really that if a person is not able to read well, they will be impacted negatively,” Berry said. “It hurts them economically … their mobility.” Berry also mentioned how the inflow of non-English speakers affects literacy levels in Texas.   “We have a growing number of people whose first language is not English who really need help. UMHB has ESL courses as part of our curriculum for this.” Students from the ASTRA club of UMHB, an offshoot of...

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Students Skype Ansel Elgort
Sep17

Students Skype Ansel Elgort

Crusader siblings Victoria and Alyssa Fahy weren’t expecting the surprise of a lifetime this summer, and they definitely weren’t expecting to become friends with one of Hollywood’s hottest stars after an online chat.   But that’s exactly what happened when freshman exercise physiology major Alyssa Fahy received news from Ansel Elgort, the star of Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, that he would be calling via Skype later that evening because she had won a giveaway.   “I didn’t really know who he was…. Victoria bought the song that entered me in the contest,” Alyssa confessed before her sister, junior cell biology major Victoria interrupted, “She won, and I didn’t.”   The youngest sister, 15 year-old Briana, was in on the deal too. The three made a pact that if any of them won, they would share the spoils. Or in this case, the screen time.   Elgort charades as a disc jockey under the name Ansolo, and he presented a contest to fans via Twitter to promote his music. By purchasing Ansolo’s latest track, “Totem,” Alyssa was entered into a raffle and ended up joining a handful of other lucky fans who came face to face with the celebrity thanks to modern technology.   When he called, the girls waited to see one of the most famous faces pop up on their laptop. The Divergent star sipped organic chocolate milk, sporting his famous white t-shirt and nonchalant attitude when the time came.   Before the conversation, Alyssa expected a “movie star-ish” man to be on the other end of their Skype call. But after talking to Elgort for just a few minutes, she tested the waters with some sarcasm and the 20-year-old answered with personality of his own.   “Did you guys all see The Fault in Our Stars? …. Have you seen any movie I’m in?” Elgort asked the girls, greeted by giggles.   During their 30 minutes, the actor shared information about himself with the Fahys, revealing a little bit about his chaotic schedule and hopes for the future.   “I think EDM is our generation’s style,” Elgort said in reference to being a DJ. “Before us, there was hip-hop. Before that, there was rock and roll…. Electronic dance music is taking over.”   He believes that a lot of the chart-topping songs have electronic undertones, and that it’s defining the industry. The scene as a whole is something he wants to be a part of.   “It (Totem) would never play on mainstream radio. It’s not that kind of track…. It’s unique and there’s not a lot of tracks like it out there, and...

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Heaven on Earth: Students get a taste
Sep17

Heaven on Earth: Students get a taste

Imagine a light surrounding you that is so amazing you can’t even put into words how it felt. Suddenly, you’re meeting a large crowd, at a gate and they are rushing toward you. Everyone you knew who had died in your lifetime is in that crowd, welcoming you home.   This is what going to heaven is like, according to Don Piper, the author of 90 Minutes in Heaven. The book has sold over 7 million copies in 46 different languages.   “I know where I’m going now. Do you? Are you sure?” Piper opened on Wednesday, Sept. 10. He came to speak to students and was able to share his testimony about how he died from a car crash Jan. 18, 1989.   The wreck happened around 11:45 a.m. on a bridge during a rainy day. A semi-truck ran over Piper’s car, and he was the only one who suffered more than a few cuts and bruises.   A preacher came not too long after the accident and began praying over Piper’s body. A few phone calls were made, and soon, people from around the world were praying for the preacher and Piper.   “It’s a miracle I’m here…. I can’t wait to go back. I didn’t want to come back here… but people were praying and God said yes.”   At 1:15 p.m., Piper began singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” with the preacher.   “I started singing the song with him, and he got out of the car … really fast,” Piper said.   The preacher went over to the police officer and told him the dead man was singing. They called for the jaws of life to help get Piper out of what was left of his car.   Piper suffered from extensive injuries that had him in the hospital for more than a year and required him to have 30 different operations.   Doctors told him he would never walk again or have full use or mobility of his arm. In addition, he suffered from brain injuries and internal bleeding.   “I believe in prayer. I’m an answered prayer,” he said.   He explained in his book and during chapel that when he went to heaven, the gates were made of pearl and the streets were made of gold. He saw colors he had never seen and smelled things he had never smelled before during his time on Earth.   Angels were everywhere, and Piper said the sound their wings made was so unique, few have reported hearing anything like it.   Of all the things he remembers when he was there,...

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