Traveling Tabor group packs paradoxical truth into concerts

Eight Tabor College students are “Living in Paradox” this summer, making a temporary home in Hillsboro as they travel around the Midwest on the college’s creative arts ministry team called i268.

Combining drama, music and personal testimony to help people explore the paradoxical truths of the Bible, i268 performs year-round in three 12-week sessions.

But the team especially packs its tour schedule during the summer months, said Jason Mohn, director of church relations at Tabor and coordinator of i268.

“It’s been a great experience,” Mohn said of the summer session. “Students don’t have as many distractions with school work, so summer provides a real prime opportunity to take some time and really develop a neat program.”

The group’s name is based on the Bible verse Isaiah 26:8, which says, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

The group chose the verse for several reasons, Mohn said.

“First, the verse starts with a statement of faith: ‘Yes, Lord,'” he said. “We were struck by the many journeys of faith that started with those simple words.

“These students agreed to participate in this team without a real clear picture of what God was calling them to,” Mohn added. “Yet they responded with willingness and enthusiasm. That’s the kind of response God loves and honors.”

The verse is also the basis of the group’s summer message captured in the title “Living in Paradox”-that the Christian life is a balancing act of both walking and waiting on God’s direction.

“How do you do that at the same time? That’s really a paradox,” Mohn said. “Then we just extended that idea to talk about other paradoxes within the Christian faith-of being of this world but also of the next.”

The team uses the dramatic example of walking on a tightrope between two solid pillars to demonstrate the biblical concept of living in paradox, said i268 member Caleb Stanton of Anaheim, Calif.

“Our message is that in life, God calls us to walk the wire between the two pillars,” Stanton said. “It’s easy to live your life on the pillar, but it’s hard, like a tight-rope walker, to actually walk the rope.

“That’s not always the easiest choice, that’s not always the safest choice, but that’s what the Bible teaches,” he added.

The i268 team takes its programs mostly to Mennonite Brethren churches and youth groups, but also performs before other audiences, Mohn said.

“The purpose of i268 is to serve churches by providing a high-quality experience of worship using both musical and dramatic arts,” Mohn said.

“We also hope to give people a glimpse of the Tabor experience by getting to know some of our current students.”

In addition to Stanton, the group includes Jillian Brown of Minneapolis, David Campbell of Wichita, Sara Clark of Chapman, Rachel Foote of Bethany, Okla., Ben J. Schmidt of Newton, Trenton Voth of Halstead and Keith Warkentin of Corn, Okla.

Under new leadership by Mohn, the team is a revival of a long-running Tabor ministry-performing under such names as CrossWise and the Harvest Crew in past years-that had disappeared last summer.

Mohn said he hopes to keep the renewed tradition going with i268 throughout the coming fall and spring.

“There will be a need for auditions in the fall, because several of our students are involved in athletics,” Mohn said. “But we already have some things set up for the fall, so we’ll need to have some sort of team in place to be able to cover those.”

Already this summer, the team has traveled west to Colorado and north to Nebraska and South Dakota to perform at churches, camps and youth rallies, he said.

A last-minute but memorable addition to the tour schedule was a program at Open Door Mission, a homeless shelter in Omaha, Neb.

“That was a neat opportunity to be with a different group of people,” Mohn said, “and to just see the power of serving people who don’t always get served.”

Having spent a couple of weekends on the road, i268 will stay around the area for several of its upcoming performances.

Next on the schedule is tonight’s 8:30 p.m. concert at the Mennonite Brethren Junior Camp on the Tabor College campus.

Then on Sunday, i268 will give a 10:30 a.m. performance at Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church and a 6:15 p.m. concert at Goessel Mennonite Church’s outdoor fund-raiser to benefit the Haiti Lifeline Orphanage.

The team also will give a “Tool Time” concert at 7 p.m. Friday, July 15, at Little Pleasures in Hillsboro.

Stanton said tonight’s concert at junior camp will be a fun change from the team’s normal drama and music routine.

“We’re just doing a concert, not really giving a message,” he said. “That’s pretty different than what we usually do.

“We just get to have fun with the kids.”

Anyone interested in scheduling an event with i268 should contact Jason Mohn, director of church relations, at 947-3121 ext. 1705. There is no charge for events; any donations go directly to the college to support the ministry.

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