I still remember January of 2016; it was my first encounter with Michigan winter. I had just gotten a warm orange jacket from Walmart and some comfortable winter boots. That morning, my host had suggested that Cornerstone University would be a great school for me to visit and maybe, just maybe it would be a good fit for me. It was like a dream, a hallmark Christmas movie, the fluffy snow was falling, everyone was indoors, those outside were bundled up in heaps of clothes, but I insisted on getting a picture in front of the visible, huge, written in blue on a white surface, next to three flags, sign along the East Beltline, “Cornerstone University.” Then, I was a prospective student, thinking of what life would be like if I had the opportunity to spend even a single semester in this school.
J-term, they called it! I had no idea what that was, but a few students were on campus as my counselor gave me the grand tour, building by building, explaining in detail the purpose of every class, object and everything that was in front of me. Occasionally she would say hi to the professors and students as she went on to build her case on why I needed to choose CU as the place to be. I enjoyed every bit of the tour; I loved the school, but I could hardly afford the cost of being in this space. It did not matter what she said – my pockets and bank had a different story.
Then we came to this building called “The Corum.” The counselor said that she had this cool person she wanted me to meet and that I would want to see his office. She set quite a high expectation; I must say. I remember taking the stairs, step by step, looking at the surrounding, the posters posted on the walls, the cafeteria behind us, and the café on our left side and just ahead of us a line of offices. We took a right turn and proceeded straight to the corner office.
It was at this point, my heart started beating so fast, my legs were slightly weak out of happiness, and a little sweat was trickling down my chin. My eyes were watery, and the excitement in me was evident as I saw the flag of Zambia by the door of the office. We knocked and walked in and my world came to a standstill, I felt as if I was in Africa inside America. The walls were decorated with different aspects of Africa from the ever-smiling community, kids running or waving, to different small flags of the different countries, African books, soccer balls, and on the floor were shirts with an Africa map with the words, “NIGHT OF NETS” written on them. There I was introduced to Chip Huber. He rolled his chair, stood up, with a smile he said, “Welcome to Cornerstone.”
His office, his demeanor, and his warm welcome screamed: “I love Africa!” I was curious and wanted to know all about his love and passion for Africa, and for the first time, I knew and felt the possibilities of me becoming a Cornerstone student. He briefly shared his passion, gave me a night of nets shirt, and told me, “When you come to study here, we shall talk some more.” It is at that moment that I was all in, I knew it was time for me to fast, fundraise and ask God to make way for me to make it to Cornerstone, needless to say, meeting him exceeded my expectations.
Fast forward, and I was back in Grand Rapids at Cornerstone with the Class of 2020. I touched down at the Gerald Ford airport in my night of nets shirt so that the people picking me up could identify me. I was about to embark on a wild, unknown and scary journey. That weekend, Chip stood on stage and shared His story in-depth and how the idea of night of nets began. I still remember the chills as he shared pictures from his previous Zambia trips and his passion for serving alongside other partners, such as One Thousand Wells.
Over the past four years, His passion has ignited some of the student’s passions on campus. His leadership has been of influence to many. His love for our generation has immensely blessed our hearts. This year, I joined him for the Colorado trip organized by him on leadership, and it’s a trip that God used to impact us as young leaders to boldly step out and influence the world for Christ. Chip has created spaces for many young leaders to be mentored by global leaders and facilitated crucial, challenging and yet much needed cultural conversations. Above all, Chip loves the Lord with his heart, and he is always open to being used by God.
Sarah Dessen once wrote, “if you have just one person believe in you, you’ll always find your way.” Chip Huber has been that one person to many students I have met. In a mess, challenging times, struggles, failures, Chip will always find a way to encourage and lift others to ensure that they thrive. This word is a better place because of people like Chip, and we honor him.