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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo

Student leadership encourages faith over fear

Blake, Villalobos share goals for the year

What does it mean to be fearless? 

This is a question often asked in times of transition — and one that Taylor leadership answered with their own call to action this year.

Borrowing from their campaign verse, 2 Timothy 1:7, seniors Student Body President Kenley Blake and Student Body Vice President Josue Villalobos chose to continue their mission by emphasizing pillars “of power and of love and of a sound mind” — all of which connects back to their central focus on fearlessness. 

“There’s just so many fears that as college students we’re almost expected to feel,” Blake said. 

Yet she finds hope throughout those fears.

“The Lord is able to work through all of that, and he does, and he’s never failed and won’t ever fail, and I think there’s just so much peace in knowing that he holds our future and we can be fearless through him,” Blake said.

That idea of fearlessness through Christ is deeply tied to Blake and Villalobos’ personal faiths as well. Both leaders mentioned the processes they went through in deciding to take on such prominent roles — and prayer and meditation were always at the center of their decisions. 

As Blake and Villalobos spent the summer preparing for their respective positions, they took time to seek God in their work, attending a Christian leadership conference and learning what it truly means to integrate faith and learning. 

For Blake, this involved researching case studies of other universities. For Villalobos, it meant recentering himself in solitude, giving him the chance to catch his breath before the bustle of the upcoming school year.

With the semester now underway, however, Villalobos and Blake both noted the importance of connection in living fearlessly. Their mission this year is to unite campus and encourage Taylor to practice all aspects of 2 Timothy 1:7 by engaging with those around them.

“Whether you’re in the opposite side of the world or here in Upland, Indiana, we’ve all got to share that some way or another,” Villalobos said.

But the student body leaders know it takes more than words to accomplish their goals. Villalobos and Blake both emphasized their desire to work more closely with the Counseling Center and the Office of Intercultural Programs They also stressed their hope that students would partner their passions with businesses and organizations around the Upland community.

While Villalobos described Taylor as a respite, he also recognizes that students must not become insulated from those around them. It’s why Blake cited the greatest commandments of Matthew 22 when speaking of being present with others — because she recognizes community as a calling, not a choice, and that makes all the difference when speaking of fear.

In addition to these commandments, Blake also spoke of 1 John 4:18, which talks about the love of God having the power to cast out all fear. 

“It’s such an empowering verse knowing that God is love and he drives out all fear so we have the power to love others like that as well,” Blake said.

It’s a love both Blake and Villalobos are learning to live out alongside their fellow students. In addition to their working relationship, they have a passion for truly sharing Christ with those around them. 

Following the model of Christ’s discipleship, which moved from an inner circle to a broader audience to a global movement, Blake and Villalobos hope that the love and service their campaign is focused on will have influence beyond campus, creating an active community of image-bearers of Christ.

Blake has a passion for servant leadership, and more than anything, she hopes that students will see that she’s willing to serve them as well. 

“We have an open door policy,” Blake said. “We’d love to hear feedback from students and we’re really ultimately there to serve Christ and you.” 

Villalobos echoed that thought. 

Admitting his own initial fears about the position, he wants students to know that he’s committed to doing his best, and that he’s excited to engage with the Taylor community as he leads the student body forward. 

“I just want to give it my best,” Villalobos said. “This is something I’ve devoted my heart to over the summer.”

He’s committed himself to the unknown, just as Blake has alongside him. And what he’s found in the midst of the uncertainties ahead — what God has promised all his followers will find through 2 Timothy 1 — is a spirit not of fear, but of fearlessness.