Hochstetler Goes to Hostile Territory

Chelsea HochstetlerChelsea Hochstetler lives and works on the worldview front lines. Educated in anthropology (a field not known for the number of Christians working in it), she’ll be teaching English for the next nine months in Indonesia — the country with the world’s largest Muslim population. “I am living right now in a fairly isolated area of Indonesia where most people have never seen a Westerner outside of the movies,” she recently said. “There are a lot of misconceptions, especially about me as a single white female. Today a man asked me for sex even though I was wearing an ankle length skirt and a long sleeved shirt.”

She says being on the front lines is what Summit trained her to do. “I saw studying anthropology at a public university as a challenge to be met, not as something to be afraid of,” she said. “Summit gave me the idea that to be a Christian is a way of life, a worldview. I firmly believe that to be true and that I can go into any discipline and apply it in a Christian way.”

Hochstetler graduated from the University of Kansas last year and earned a prestigious Fulbright grant. After her time in Indonesia, she hopes to earn graduate degrees and study the problems refugees face.

Her introduction to Summit came when she attended the summer program with a friend. “I had grown up going to Christian events, concerts, revivals, and honestly, they never did anything for me,” she recalls. “‘Spiritual highs’ never really happened. That’s also what I expected from Summit, but it was so different, and it wasn’t just a spiritual high but something that truly changed my life.”

What Hochstetler learned that summer was that her faith called her to cultivate the life of the mind. She had been planning to take time off before college, so attending Summit Semester seemed like a perfect fit. And it was. She especially sees the value now, as she is bombarded with questions about Christianity from her Muslim neighbors and clients.

Hochstetler says she didn’t go into Indonesia as a missionary, but she’s finding herself providing much understanding to people who know little about Christianity. “I am intensely grateful for Summit Semester, especially because it gave me a strong basis and understanding of Christian history and thought and the basic tenets of belief,” she says. “That education has been invaluable as I have been in daily dialogue with Muslims.”

Hochstetler credits Summit with keeping her committed to Christianity because the summer program, Summit Semester, and even a brief visit to Summit Oxford showed how the biblical worldview affects all aspects of life. “I have no doubt that I would have left the Church altogether had I not been given an intellectual basis for believing and been able to meet truly intelligent people who also happen to be Christians.”