Giving Back: Psychology in Adoption

By: Noelle Beans

Jana Hunsley at her IWU graduation in 2013

The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University strives to help children who suffer from the effects of early trauma, abuse or neglect. The institute accomplishes this by researching these children’s needs to help them overcome challenges – social, behavioral and emotional.

As a sibling to seven adopted children, Jana Hunsley, a 2013 graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), has found her place pursuing a PhD at this remarkable institute.

However, her journey began at Indiana Wesleyan. Due to her family’s composition, Hunsley had always known she wanted to study psychology at a Christian university in order to become a post-adoption therapist.

IWU also offered an honors program, The John Wesley Honors College, which challenged Hunsley academically. That, in combination with the Holy Spirit’s confirmation, led her to call IWU home.

“I fell in love with IWU right away,” Hunsley said. “I tangibly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on campus, and it was like nothing I had experienced in a place previously. During that campus visit, I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me this was the place I was supposed to be.”

This proved to be true as Hunsley met friends who challenged and encouraged her during her time as a Wildcat.

She also met professors who recognized her potential.

She said, “The professors are truly one of the biggest reasons I’m doing what I am doing with my life today.”

The constant support of the faculty at IWU was unexpected. The professors assisted Hunsley in seeing all of the plans God had for her if she would be faithful in her walk with Him.

Professors Dr. Runyan and Dr. Steenbergh were two of the professors who had a lasting impact on Hunsley’s life.

Drs. Runyan and Steenergh invited Hunsley to be a part of their research team. They encouraged her to pursue a career in psychological research.

Although Hunsley became a clinician first, she attributes her courage to step into a research PhD program to their guidance during her undergraduate studies.

According to Hunsley, for the children of God there is power in psychology. Runyan has echoed this belief by stating that research is integral to a Christian university as it will shape tomorrow, influencing textbooks, popular media and the way our culture thinks and lives. Due to her conviction and Runyan’s influence, Hunsley integrates this dynamic into her work daily.

“All that I am doing with my life is because it is exactly where God has told me to go and what He has told me to do,” said Hunsley. “Through my experience of being a sibling to seven adopted children, God gave me skills and experiences to help other adoptive families. He made it very clear that He created me to bring hope and healing to families that have had experiences like my own. My career is just a manifestation of the work God puts in front of me to help adoptive families.”

Hunsley continues to work in ground-breaking research, learning how to care for foster and adopted children.

This research has spread all over the world to enable these vulnerable children to heal. Hunsley has the opportunity to further this work by researching the effectiveness of their intervention, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI).

Hunsley also researches the effects of TBRI in different cultures and settings around the world and finds ways to specifically help adoptive siblings adjust well to their families’ adoptions.



Written by Noelle Beans, a writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Noelle is a sophomore Nursing and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College from Greenville, Illinois.

Erik & Rebecca Johnson

By: Noelle Beans

Erik & Rebecca Johnson

Erik and Rebecca Johnson both attended Indiana Wesleyan University and played for IWU’s men and women’s soccer teams. Rebecca graduated in 2010 with a degree in Exercise Science, and Erik graduated the following year with a double major in Entrepreneurship and Finance. They both emphasized that their times at IWU were special for many reasons, but especially because they met each other.

Soccer was a big draw for both Erik and Rebecca as they committed to Indiana Wesleyan for participation in the program. Through their athletics and other student life, they both made their closest friends, which they are still friends with to this day. Erik and Rebecca met each other during pre-season of his freshman year and her sophomore. Rebecca said of her time with Erik, “We spent lots of long evenings together as I worked the Lodges front desk and he ‘did his homework.’”

Spiritual growth was also a major part of their story at IWU. For Rebecca, she hadn’t really been extremely involved in Bible studies or youth group before coming to college, so she soaked in all the opportunities at school, from devotions with her coach to Summits every semester to godly roommates – all these things had a huge impact on her walk with the Lord. For Erik, college was finally a time he could drift in order to find himself and make his faith his own. Like Rebecca, he had many spiritual influences that were pivotal in creating a culture at IWU where he could pursue Christ more.

Now, Erik is the Principal and Cereal Entrepreneur at J2 Marketing – the business plan of which he had the privilege to write during his entrepreneurship classes at IWU. J2 is a leading branding agency in Northern Indiana employing about a dozen “passionate, creative geniuses.” Erik also owns a custom gun holster manufacturing company called Click Holsters, as well as has equity stakes in other ventures.

He attributes his education from IWU as a significant part of what has prepared him for where he is today in his career. Erik said, “I don’t think any school, simply through classes, can fully prepare someone for a successful career after school. IWU had many opportunities to participate in activities outside the classroom.” These opportunities included work with the American Marketing Association, Students in Free Enterprise, Business as Missions and other opportunities to collaborate with students outside the classroom. To lay the foundation of his faith and the foundation of the businesses he is a part of, Erik looks to James 1:17 that reads, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father.”

Erik, Rebecca, and their son, Lincoln

Rebecca feels blessed to spend most of her time raising their 2-year old son, Lincoln, as she knows she is “raising the next generation of world changers.” Although it doesn’t always feel this way to her, Rebecca knows she has one of the greatest and most important jobs on the planet as a mom. Rebecca said, “The decisions I make for our family every day and the values I teach our son are all found and founded in the truth of God’s Word.”

In addition to childcare, Rebecca helps run some of the business. She believes her spiritual life gives her the work ethic and perseverance to make it through the not-so-fun parts of being a business owner. She also works on the board of an adoption and fostering ministry non-profit named Village to Village Intl. Two trips to India during Rebecca’s time at IWU opened her worldview and gave her a love for travel and a heart for all things adoption.

Erik, likewise, has a love for travel, and he and Rebecca have taken several trips abroad as well as stateside – some with their son, Lincoln. In Crete, they loved cliff jumping, though Rebecca joked it may have taken her 30 minutes to actually jump.

Rebecca encouraged IWU students to enjoy their time at IWU, because it goes by faster than imaginable. “Make as many friends as you can. Take the opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow in your relationship with Christ,” she said. From a business standpoint, Erik tells students to get involved beyond the classroom within their area of study. As an employer, he looks for graduates who go beyond their school education to learn new perspectives and get experience in their field to set themselves apart from their classmates. Erik failed his English class the first time he took it. He said, “Just because you fail at some things, doesn’t mean you can’t excel in something you truly enjoy.”



Written by Noelle Beans, a writer for the Alumni Center. Noelle is a freshman Nursing and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College.

Pastor of the Week: Tom Curry

By: Dezaray Barr

Tom Curry

Tom Curry is the Pastor of Living Faith Lutheran Church in Wabash, IN. He is also employed by a mission mobilization organization serving mainly evangelical Lutheran churches, Awakening Lives to World Missions, where he is the Mid-West Regional Representative.

Curry graduated from Taylor University with an undergraduate degree. He attended Huntington University for his graduate studies and received his M.A. in International Development from William Carey International University.

“I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from India Bible Institute in New Delhi, India, on March 1, 1995, for my work among India’s poor children,” Curry said. “I am the Founder of an Indian Trust – Center for Orphan Development and Education and assisted in the founding of its sister American organization, Friends of Hope, which presently supports children of five different residential homes in India.”

Curry and his wife, Rhonda, lost their first child in 1978. “I began to see the reality of hope that is relevant to life,” Curr said. “As painful as it was, God used that event to move me in the direction of people and coming along side of people without hope. This proved to be instrumental in my calling as a pastor. ”

Curry and his wife

Curry and his wife just celebrated 43 years of marriage. They have three children – Joni Annette (deceased), Jim and Jenny, as well as six grandchildren. They were licensed foster parents for 15 years and have adopted two children.

Curry said that in his time in pastoral ministry and as a missionary in India, spiritual warfare has been the biggest challenge. “It was only in recent years that I have come to realize the far-reaching effects of evil and present-day demonic activity. I believe the church is the primary target of our enemy the devil. Demonic activity is behind every church conflict. This is more blatant in developing nations,” he said.

Living Faith Lutheran Church is a new church start in Wabash. The church has two main themes – word and sacrament. “Communion is a big part of every service with an emphasis upon the real presence (not literal) of Christ in and through the communion elements,” Curry shared. “Corporate confession of sin along with pastoral absolution is part of our Eucharist.We value and are not ashamed of our connection with historical Christianity and see the ancient creeds as an important part of that connection.”

If Curry could encourage IWU students of one thing, he would tell them, “As you deepen your knowledge of God through His written Word, may you also deepen your knowledge and appreciation of how the Holy Spirit has worked throughout history. Appreciate the saints gone before you and seek to stand on their shoulders working with them, not doing your ‘own’ thing in isolation.”



Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at

Miracle Baby: Grant County’s First Birth in the New Year

By: Katherine Arch

On January 1st, 2016 IWU alumni Nathan (’05, Social/Behavioral Sciences, Business Administration) and Kim (’04, Elementary Education) Cromer welcomed Caleb Jonathan Cromer into the world. Caleb was Grant County’s first birth of the year, born at Marion General Hospital. Many people herald the birth of a child with comments about the miraculous nature of new life, Grant County’s first baby of the new year, however, cannot be described as anything short of a miracle.

Chronicle-Tribune source

When the two married ten years ago, doctors told Kim and Nathan that they would never have children. Coming from a family of twelve children, Kim especially was very upset by this news.

“We were told it would be a miracle to have a baby,” Kim recalls. Upon hearing this news, the couple felt called by God not to pursue fertility treatments. Instead, they chose to wait patiently and hope that God would grant them their desire to have children.

“There’s a verse in Psalm 113 that says “He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother” (Psalm 113:9 a) I clung to that verse at that time,” Kim recalled. “I felt as though God gave me that verse as a promise. I needed to wait.”

During this period of waiting, Kim recalls that she was working at McCullough Junior high as a teacher. Many of McCullough’s students are from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, every day Kim faced the struggles of poverty. Her heart was heavy with the struggles these students faced.

“I wanted to help children who were hurting,” Kim remembers. “So Nathan and I decided that we wanted to pursue doing foster care and in-home childcare.” After making this decision, Kim stepped down from her position at McCullough and the couple began the journey of foster care.

“We had groups of siblings several times; sometimes we just had individual kids,” stated Kim. “At one point we had a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a one-year-old in our house at the same time!” About two years ago, the Cromers took in a young boy named Isaiah; this child they were able to adopt. Kim commented on the significant difference between adopting and doing foster care. She mentioned how difficult it is to give children back when their time as foster parents ends.

Looking back on the series of kids that came and left their home, Kim recalls that the process of doing foster care was “emotionally and physically exhausting.” The Cromers, however, sensed strongly that this was something to which God had called them. So they continued volunteering to take children through the foster care system. At the same time, they finalized adoption for Isaiah. After successfully adopting him, the Cromers found out they were pregnant.

“We were thrilled,” Kim stated. “We felt as though God had promised us this child, and now we were being given him.” The pregnancy was without complication, and on January 1st, the couple welcomed Caleb to their family.

“His name has special meaning,” explained Kim of her son. “Caleb means “faithful”, and Jonathan means “gift from God.” We really felt that both of those names were fitting.”

Five days before Caleb’s birth, their last foster care child left their home. The family plans to take a year off of foster care to adjust to their new family dynamics and resume care next year.

“We have no promise that we’ll have a child again,” Kim emphasized, “and his birth doesn’t change our desire to do foster care. This is something we still feel called to do. Caleb was simply our miracle baby.”

The Indiana Wesleyan Alumni family is excited to celebrate the birth of Caleb Jonathan with the Cromers!


Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form. Katherine also operates a website called “Join the Ranch” at It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.