Our Compass is the Word of God: James Jackson

By: Noelle Beans

Reverend James Jackson is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Wesley Seminary Alumni Award.

Rev. Jackson is not a stranger to authoritative positions. Throughout his ministerial career, he held many positions of authority and performed with great esteem and with great integrity.

The positions Jackson has held include the following:

  • Director of the Far-Eastside Action Coalition – a task-oriented community group for crime prevention and mentoring, and other projects.
  • Chief Administrative Officer of Valley Kingdom International – a group which seeks to advance the kingdom through intercepting the different systems of society.
  • Member of the Police Merit Board – governing body for the Metropolitan Police Department

Jackson was the first pastor in the history of Indianapolis to ever be asked to serve on this board.

Now, Jackson is the lead pastor of Fervent Prayer Church and the president of the affiliated Academy.

He founded the church 24 years ago and the school 22 years ago.

Somewhere along this journey of ministry, Jackson became frustrated.

Encouragement from Bishop Tom Benjamin to apply and enroll at Wesley Seminary came at the right time.

The first two years of seminary were difficult for Jackson because he had been out of school for a long time.

As he acclimated, the transformation in his life began. Rev. Jackson describes his time at IWU as a lift: “restorative, inspirational and informational – a second wind.”

He graduated in 2016 with his master’s degree.

There are now over 180 children enrolled at the Fervent Care Christian Academy from kindergarten to 12-years-old.

Jackson is a commissioner for the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. He was appointed by Governor Holcomb to make decisions on civil rights cases.

In his daily work, Jackson’s faith is his standard. He functions on a mantra of not who is right, but what is right. When seeking guidance on decisions his compass is the word of God.

Developing a relationship with God over all else is of utmost importance to Rev. Jackson. Apparent by his respected appointments over the years, Rev. Jackson chooses to live this out every day.

Watch the video from the Homecoming Celebration honoring Rev. James Jackson! https://youtu.be/UKuXqbJaGQI?t=494

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.

Living by Faith Outside the Comfort Zone: Joel Herzog

By: Kendra Housel

At the age of 39, Joel Herzog found himself going back to school, surrounded by others who were about a decade younger than he was.

He originally came to Indiana Wesleyan University to complete his associate’s degree, and then he went on and to get his bachelor’s degree in management in 2010.

His time at IWU was quite unique. Herzog, returning to higher education and balancing that with his family life, found himself at one point stuck with the problem of needing to do homework, but already being committed to taking his daughter to a concert.

He jokes that he was the only person at the Jonas Brothers Concert reading the Bible.

Herzog chose to attend IWU both for its community and the proximity to his home in West Chester.

Though he was considerably older than his fellow students, which was difficult at times, he enjoyed his time and thrived in a learning environment which emphasized personal attention between professors and students.

Today, Herzog is the Chief of Police at the West Chester police station. It is a larger agency than most, where they will soon have 90 officers on staff.

He works often in the behind-the-scenes duties as Chief, so his days either look very routine, (planning meetings, looking at requests, setting goals, etc.) or they are incredibly difficult (discerning the next appropriate move in a hostage situation).

This, Herzog said, is why his faith is so essential, and why he is so thankful for his time at IWU.

Before coming to IWU, Herzog was raised Catholic, but had not gone to church faithfully for many years.

Through his professors showing him how everything ties back to God, Herzog began attending a nondenominational church constantly and recognized the importance of following Jesus faithfully.

His faith now informs everything he does, both in his personal life and in his job as Chief. He finds that it is important to pray for and with his officers and members of the community.

He has also taken hold of the unique opportunity he found in the West Chester department. When he began, two officers were ordained ministers, and the number has increased to four.

These chaplains are always available to the officers to help them process their spiritual well-being on the job, which in some places can be taboo. However, Herzog says spiritual well-being is just as important as physical well-being.

With a faith that he says has given him a greater vision and more compassion, Herzog has prioritized community engagement with his unit. He wants the community to know his men by their first names and as people, not only as officers.

Herzog stresses how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and to be around people who are not exactly like you. For his men, this not only opens their eyes to different people’s stories and life styles, but it also helps to continue to show communities that police officers are just normal people.

In his pursuit of community connection, Herzog likes to take his wife and visit a new church on some Sundays.

The first time he did this was a very special occasion and it left a lasting impact.

In July 2016, at the height of tension between African American communities and police officers, five officers were shot in Dallas, Texas.

Herzog did the only thing he could think to do: he donned his uniform and took his wife to a predominantly black church that Sunday morning. What happened there was a work of God: amazing love and embracing between the parties that he struggled to describe in a way that would fully honor the memory.

Herzog looks back at that experience as a powerful time, where a bond was built with members of that church family that last to today, because of the great compassion and understanding they shared in such a tumultuous time.

When asked what additional words of wisdom he had for current IWU students, Herzog shared the words he shares with his officers: “If something is important to you – sports, education, marriage, parenting – don’t train until you can get it right … train until you can’t get it wrong. Stick with it; life doesn’t always give you a second shot. Take what you got, work for what you got and fight for what you got.”

Watch the video from the Homecoming Celebration honoring Col. Joel Herzog! https://youtu.be/UKuXqbJaGQI?t=325

Written by Kendra Housel, writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Kendra is a junior Education and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. Kendra is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.

Encouraging Others through Victory: SaLisa Flagg

By: Dezaray Barr

SaLisa (Lisa) Flagg is this year’s recipient of the IWU Distinguished National and Global Alumni Award.

“I’m very excited and very honored to receive this award,” Flagg said.

She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2010 with her bachelor’s degree in nursing and in 2014 with her master’s degree in management.

She now works as a registered nurse at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She utilizes her knowledge to access, plan, intervene, evaluate and document patient care.

“I like being part of the children’s healing process … to let them know that God is a healer and to try to direct them to Christ,” she said.

Flagg also trains and mentors new staff at the hospital, and she formulates nursing diagnoses for training staff on actual and potential health problems.

In addition to being the spokesperson for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, she also started a women’s ministry mentorship project at Rose Chapel Church where her husband, Pastor Mark Flagg, serves in ministry.

The Women’s Ministry Mentorship Program aims to guide ladies ages 18 and over to triumph in all areas of their lives. They meet once a month with women from both the church and from the community.

“We let them know that they’re not alone,” Flagg said. “Whatever situation they’re fighting or coming up against, they’ll triumph over it through God.”

Most recently, Flagg has created a workshop, I’m Under Construction, where Christian women of various backgrounds and views gather together for discussion and spiritual growth.

Flagg’s motto is, “The odds may be stacked against you, the past may seem like it’s controlling your present and future and you may think that you can’t win; however, God and his glorious plan are enough to give you the victory.”

Congratulations, Lisa! It is an honor to call you an IWU alum!

Watch the Homecoming Celebration video honoring SaLisa Flagg! https://youtu.be/UKuXqbJaGQI?t=206


Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the IWU Alumni Office. Dezaray is a senior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

The Importance of Community : Joe Winger

By: Kendra Housel

Joe Winger and his family at his graduation.

Joe Winger learned several life-changing lessons during his college years at Indiana Wesleyan University that cannot be discovered in textbooks or class lectures.

Winger, who graduated in 2010 with a B.S. degree in psychology, knew as a high school student in Colorado that he wanted to attend a Christ-centered university. After a Google search and a campus visit, he knew IWU was where he belonged.

The years he spent at IWU confirmed his choice, but in a way that he neither expected nor desired. The summer before Winger returned to campus for his senior year, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that primarily affects the lymph nodes.

Winger remained in Colorado to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments during the first semester of his senior year, but he was able to complete his degree thanks to independent study.

“Dr. Tim Steenbergh and other faculty members become advocates for me,” he said. “The opportunity to work on my studies helped me to stay focused and to have a positive attitude during my treatments.” Steenbergh, a Professor of Psychology, has taught at IWU since 2003.

 Winger returned to campus for his final semester in the spring of 2010, but he struggled with taking a full load of classes and missed the Colorado community that had surrounded him.

Winger would quickly learn how important community and meaning were in successfully battling cancer.

“The IWU community made my transition back to campus as smooth as possible,” he said. “So many people at IWU did everything possible to support me in person, just as they had done when I was in Colorado.”

Through his diagnosis and treatment, Winger said God taught him that life has meaning regardless of your circumstances. He learned the importance of staying connected to people and to Christ at all times.

Joe Winger and his wife, Bekah.

“My eyes were opened to the suffering of cancer patients,” Winger said.

During his treatments, Winger read Man’s Search for Meaning, a book by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. “The book focuses on the importance of maintaining meaning in the midst of suffering,” Winger said.

Fast forward to 2017 when Winger finished his Ph.D. He recently completed his first year as a postdoctoral associate at Duke University Medical Center.

Through a fellowship from the American Cancer Society, Winger’s work focuses on Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy (MCP) with an emphasis on helping patients with advanced cancer

and pain.

The study focuses on pain coping skills, relaxation techniques and identifying ways to stay engaged in a meaningful life. He is testing MCP with 50 cancer patients at Duke.

“God’s faithfulness put me in the field where I belong,” he said.

What advice does Winger have for today’s IWU students?

“Value being in a Christian community,” he said. “When I was at IWU, it never fully sunk in for me just how unique a time it was in terms of community. Especially for students who will go into secular environments, they will never get the same sense of community that seeks to glorify Christ in their work that they have now on campus.”


Written by Kendra Housel, writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Kendra is a junior Education and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. Kendra is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.

Celebrating the Small Victories – Jill Carder’s Story

By: Katherine Arch


The Education Division at Indiana Wesleyan University is one of the largest academic divisions on campus. To honor the students and graduates of this department, we will be telling the stories of several alumni and how they are using their God-given gifts to teach others. Special thanks goes to the alumni that participated in interviews, the faculty of the Education Division, and to the Division Chair, Dr. Jim Elsberry.

IMG_0211Jill Carder (’15, Elementary Education) knows the value of celebrating the little things in life. She celebrates small victories and encourages academic growth at many different levels. She helps little hands learn to hold a pencil, and write their name. She realizes the value of seeing small victories as significant. She discovers potential.

This is her calling; she is a teacher.

From early on, Carder realized she wanted to teach. Her experiences working with children through tutoring, babysitting and volunteering at church ministries allowed her to discover her passion for working with children. When she began to study at Indiana Wesleyan University in the fall of 2011, her parents encouraged her to explore teaching as a potential area of focus.

“Teaching was always an area of interest for me, when I entered one of Dr. Elsberry’s classes I realized that I had made the right decision,” she said.

Carder works as a Kindergarten teacher at Allen Elementary school. Her time at Indiana Wesleyan University equipped her with the professional tools that she needed to become an effective teacher. Carder mentioned that these teachers gave her valuable tools, but more importantly they taught her to think for herself and understand her personal values. One IWU professor that specifically encouraged her to teach was Dr. McCracken.

“Dr. McCraken helped me understand the importance of knowing what I thought and why I believed what I did,” Carder explained. Reflecting on her time at IWU, she mentioned that she loved being part of the School of Teacher Education because of the support and experience of faculty and professors.

“They have all been in the classroom before,” said Carder, “So they all understood the struggles and frustrations that I dealt with.” Throughout her time at IWU, Jill grew in her understanding of education. She stated that her practicum and observation experiences helped her gain confidence and momentum as a teacher. She greatly enjoyed her experiences getting into the classroom, which only further confirmed her calling to be a teacher. She met many children, each with different struggles and heartaches. Carder said, “In each placement I was pushed and stretched beyond my abilities; with each new experience I became a better teacher.”

As Jill launched toward graduation, her thoughts turned toward future employment. Preparing well in advance, she submitted her résumé to dozens of schools. For each interview, she did everything right; she ironed her clothes, rehearsed several interview questions and showed up ten minutes early to each interview. Despite how well the principles liked her and how well the interviews went, Carder faced a series of rejections.

Having just graduated, Carder began to question her calling to teach. It was already mid-July and she had no job prospects. Just as she was starting to become discouraged, the principal of Allen Elementary school phoned and asked her to interview to be the new kindergarten teacher.

“I was amazed,” Carder recalls, “I hadn’t even applied for the job.” Asked to come back to Marion for the interview, Carder got in her car and started the five-hour drive from her parents’ home in Ohio. She walked into the school punctual, positive, and prepared. The interview went well; Carder, however, refused to get excited prematurely.

Two days later the principal called, offering Carder the job. She had nowhere to live, little money and few connections. Her boss wanted her to start in less than a month. She accepted.

“A week and a half later, I found myself in Indiana living in my parent’s camper while waiting for my new apartment to be ready,” Carder recalls of this rapid relocation. “I spent most days at school, trying desperately to prepare my classroom for seventeen energetic five-year-olds. Through God’s perfect plan and my parent’s unfailing generosity, I would be moved into my new apartment just three days before students would walk into my classroom.”

Carder admits she would not have picked kindergarten as her first class to teach, but she loves it.

“It is definitely the place for me,” she explained. Although her students come from situations that are less than ideal, Carder mentioned that she loves helping her students unleash their potential.

Coming to her class, only three of Carder’s students had any preschool experience. Few could write their name or knew the alphabet. Reflecting on the past few months, Miss Carder is thrilled to see the individual progress of each student.

“They went from not knowing how to hold a pencil to reading,” Carder gushed. “It is just the coolest thing to see their growth.” Carder explained that she has learned to celebrate the little victories with her students. Articulating her vision of teaching, Carder stated, “Each day we improve, we make better choices, and we become smarter. I celebrate with every student for each small victory. Over time, the small victories become huge.”


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 jointheranch.weebly.com. It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.

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 jointheranch.weebly.com. It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.

Empowered with Purpose – Hazel Owens’s story (’11/’13)

hazel owensAcross social media, Pandora advertisements, and large-city billboards, Hazel Owens, Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni, promotes that Indiana Wesleyan University empowered her to live her purpose. Working as a volunteer coordinator for a non-for-profit, she reflects that her education was a training ground that prepared her to “live her purpose, empowering women through public speaking, broadcasting, and online communication.” Owens, who graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Management in 2011 and her Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management in 2013, never dreamt of herself as a spokesperson for IWU prior to summer of 2013. Two years ago in June, Ms. Owens was working at the Black Expo, a community event that celebrates African American identity in Indianapolis. While there, she connected with representatives from IWU. For the previous several years, Ms. Owens had been attending Indiana Wesleyan University and was only a month away from graduation. Hearing her experience with the school, the IWU worker at the booth suggested that she connect with workers from the alumni association and share her story. Without much preparation, Hazel recorded a brief video highlighting her personal growth through her time at IWU. This commercial, which aired August of 2014, soon became synonymous with IWU promotion for the school. Despite its brevity, this movie powerfully presents the growth Ms. Owens underwent as a student and highlights how her experience at Indiana Wesleyan empowered her to live with purpose.

Prior to her education at Indiana Wesleyan University, Ms. Owens attended Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, but did not complete her degree. Around the same time, one of her close friends was attending Indiana Wesleyan through the Adult Studies program. She strongly suggested that Owens pursue finishing her schooling at IWU; her voice of encouragement soon coupled with her boss. As Owens was vacillating over the feasibility of working and finishing her degree, she received a new supervisor at her workplace, a woman who was completing her bachelor’s degree through Indiana Wesleyan’s Adult studies program. Encouraged to pursue this opportunity, Owens began to explore the possibility of finishing her schooling while retaining her position at work. Indiana Wesleyan seemed like the perfect mixture of her goals.

Beginning her studies, Owens pleasantly discovered how seamlessly professors and classes at Indiana Wesleyan integrated faith and education. At first, Owens was incredulous as to how effectively faculty would incorporate these components. When she started classes at the satellite school in Indianapolis, Owens was uncomfortable contributing to her professor’s conversations about faith and God. These experiences highlighted her need for spiritual growth, which she began pursuing through her local church. While completing her undergraduate degree, Owens was amazed by the authenticity with which her teachers lived their lives. As she interacted with her professors, she realized that they lived the way in which they taught, demonstrating what Owens called “a real-world scenario” of life outside the classroom.

Following graduation, Owens decided to pursue her master’s degree in Human Resources Management through IWU; at the time she was volunteering for a non-for-profit in Indianapolis and working for a corporation within the student loans industry. Although she was progressing professionally, Owens was unhappy in her career, and thus she was prompted to apply to the business where she was volunteering. Looking back at her time at Indiana Wesleyan, Ms. Owens says she can see how God was preparing her for her current job. While she was looking for a school that could fit her work schedule, instead she found a place that challenged her to grow and develop as a servant leader. Now Ms. Owens manages the volunteer department of a large non-for-profit in Indianapolis. Working at this job has been unlike any position she previously held; Owens said she loves working towards a goal that is bigger than herself and her personal needs. Through this non-for-profit, Owens works to satisfy physical needs and realize personal goals of women in the Indianapolis area. This corporation focuses on empowering women to discover their worth as people and applying this knowledge to their vocation. Owens stated that she loves interacting with these women and hearing their stories.

Although Hazel Owens was a non-traditional student, her journey clearly demonstrates how God used Indiana Wesleyan to help prepare her to live her purpose. Following her involvement in the Adult Studies commercial, Owens saw her face on a billboard in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. Upon seeing her face in such a prominent location, Owens admits that the image brought her to tears. “Gary was my humble beginning” Owens stated. Life in Gary was not easy for Ms. Owens, but she expressed her hope that her involvement in this campaign sends the message that “you do not have to become what your environment dictates you will become.” Prior to her enrollment at Indiana Wesleyan University, Ms. Owens was a successful businesswoman working her way up the cooperate hierarchy, thoroughly miserable. Through her journey, she states as though God prepared her to live her purpose so that she could empower those around her to find their calling as well.

Hazel will be sharing more of her story as an inspiring and informative luncheon on June 16th. The meeting will include lunch meal service.  This event will be at the IWU Indy North Education and Conference Center, 3777 Priority Way, Indianapolis, IN – LOCATION. For more information contact Alumni Relations.

Reserve your space today – $10 per person (includes lunch)


Story written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Junior 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 divine potential in written form.

IWU Graduation


IWU graduation draws crowds

By Matt Troutman mtroutman@chronicle-tribune.com | Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 4:00 am

Snow could not stop winter graduation ceremonies at Indiana Wesleyan University on Saturday.

The university conducted two ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students to receive their degrees. In total, around 1,760 students received their degrees, but not all could attend the ceremonies.

Alan Miller, director of university relations, said most of the graduates were in one of the university’s 16 programs across Indiana and the Midwest.

“Most of the students who are graduating are in our adult education programs,” he said.

Given the distances… (read more)