I ride my scooter through the Cairo traffic. Weaving in and out, shooting small gaps even the small Chinese cars or micro-mini vans cannot fit through, I love the thrill and planning it takes to manage the rules-challenged traffic in a city of 24-28 million people. It is a long way from learning to ride on a dirt bike on my father’s farm in Indiana.
I am one of the Wunderink clan of eight kids that attended Illiana between 1970 and 1979; I graduated in the class of ‘78. Since we were from DeMotte, actually Shelby, population 110 at the time, we were only allowed participation in one sport or extra-curricular activity a year. I chose basketball, of course, until I blew out my knee as a sophomore and never recovered. Then I went into drama and participated in three Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Our Town, and Flowers for Algernon. I truly enjoyed my time at Illiana even though academically I was average. My favorite period was working on the Echo news, developing pictures and writing a column called “Wunderings”.
God seems to move me in 18-year increments. My first 18 were on the farm and attending Illiana. My next 18 were in Michigan where I found a local Michigander and married her at 20. By 25 we had three kids, a mortgage, and I was in a factory job working toward my first degree in business. By my early thirties I was called by God from Joshua 1:8 into the ministry. I still cannot read that passage without crying. My wife Frankie was already a Youth Pastor at our church and part-time at another when we planted our first church in Michigan. I worked full-time, went to Calvin Seminary part-time, pastored a new church plant full-time, was a husband, and was a dad to three growing kids. A crazy time as I look back on it.
Armed with a Masters from Calvin Seminary and certain that Frankie and I needed to be in one ministry together instead of 3 churches apart, we accepted a call to plant a new church in Las Vegas, which was at that time the fastest growing city in America. After 18 years in Michigan we moved our family to Henderson, NV, and planted a new church there.
The 18-year journey in Las Vegas was the most difficult of our married life. Vegas is not a place that is conducive to church planting. In fact, of the general population the majority religion is Mormon, and the local laws made it near impossible. We were on the brink of closing for most of those 18 years.
To supplement my income as a tent-making pastor, I officiated weddings in Las Vegas. I soon found the factory-like wedding services of the small chapels insulting and degrading and quit until I found a job working at the higher end hotels where I could spend time with the couples and we were given more time and control over the service. I racked up 12 years of stories about weddings, both funny and touching.
It was in Las Vegas that I honed my skills as a preacher, but also as a public speaker and lecturer. I began leading tours in Egypt through Witte Travel in Grand Rapids, MI. I would do spiritual journeys, teaching my tourists about the connections between the Old Testament and Ancient Egypt. I began to understand that God had gifted me more as a teacher and lecturer while Frankie was the real Pastor in the family. At that point I began working on my Doctorate at Fuller Seminary and began teaching at a local Christian College.
But our 18 years were up in Las Vegas. God called us to Cairo, Egypt, in 2015. We have been serving with Resonate (CRWM) ever since. I teach Old Testament, lecture, train, and disciple here as well as lecture for tours here on the connections between Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament. We have other responsibilities that cannot be a part of public discourse, but we love living in Cairo and probably will until my next 18 years are up. That would make me 72 … so we will see.
It is fun and amazing to make connections with classmates from Illiana through social media. I look forward to the time Illiana invites me to chapel, and I already preach at a lot of churches within the Classis when I am back in the States, so feel free to stop by or invite me! I treasure the time I had at Illiana and I am where I am now because of that education. To the students that are currently there, I pray you too will spread the wisdom wings Illiana is building into you. Who knows? You may find yourself on a scooter weaving through traffic in North Africa.
Steven Wunderink, class of ‘78
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