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Christian Union
June 24, 2017

Manion ’18 Inspired by Summer Bible Study

By Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer

As an emerging leader at Columbia University, Kerry Manion ’18 was struck by the relevance of the lessons inside the ancient book of Judges.

Throughout the tumultuous Old Testament chronology, God positioned champions to rescue the Israelites from formidable enemies. “The judges were all chosen by God,” said Manion, who has growing responsibilities across Columbia’s spiritual, sports, and service arenas.

Such themes stood out to Manion when she participated in a recent study with a group of female students involved with Christian Union’s ministry. The women devoted a portion of their summer to tackling the timeless insights in the seventh book of the Bible, especially the ones pertaining to up-and-coming leaders.

The undergraduates gathered for weekly sessions during June and July at the home of Christian Union Ministry Fellow Ava Ligh. 

The ministry focused on Judges because the chapters offer celebrated accounts of unlikely individuals who obey God, step forward for service, and become heroes and heroines.

Manion found such narratives inspirational, especially as she acknowledged a desire to become more versed in the challenging, but historically rich, passages of the Old Testament.

The California native was also impressed by the cyclical nature of the book, including the patterns of sin, judgment, desperation, and deliverance. “It’s super relevant for college students,” said Manion, who began serving a year ago as an assistant Bible course leader for Christian Union. 

Just as many are doing today, the ancient Israelites turned away from absolute truths and embraced depravity. Judges 17:6 records, “In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” As a result, the Israelites experienced vicious cycles of bondage, followed by deliverance. 

“The book of Judges is incredibly relevant to their current contexts in college, as it details Israel’s struggle in the midst of a pluralistic society,” said Ligh, Columbia ’99.

The suspenseful stories and colorful characters inside the 21-chapter book deliver strategies for managerial practices via themes that dovetail with Christian Union’s mission of providing leadership training to students at leading universities. 

While candid in its coverage of 300-plus years of turbulent history, the book of Judges poignantly highlights the critical nature of quality leaders, or “judges” as dubbed throughout the vast chronology. 

The narratives of Judges also pointed the undergraduates to an example of a key female leader, Deborah, who played a powerful role in liberating God’s covenant people via her faithfulness.

Just as Deborah put her gifts to work in surprising ways, Manion aims to use her abilities in inspirational, creative, and practical endeavors. The financial economics major already is tackling her third internship in the financial sector. 

“I do seek to glorify God,” Manion said. 

Ligh expressed appreciation for Manion as a warm, enthusiastic mentor for Bible course participants.

“Her growth this past year has included an in creased understanding of the human propensity for sin, but also a deepened appreciation for God’s forgiveness and grace,” said Ligh. “It has led to an observable inner calm and peace.”

Along those lines, one of Manion’s key spheres of collegiate influence involves her role as a defender on Columbia’s women’s soccer team. In 2016, the accomplished athlete started all 17 games at center back for the Lions, earning an All-Ivy League honorable mention, her second such recognition in three seasons.

“God has blessed me in ways I could not even imagine,” said Manion. 

Also on campus, Manion is actively involved with College Mentors for Kids, Multicultural Business Association, and Columbia Culinary Club. 

But nearer to Manion’s heart is her work as a Columbia ambassador for Team IMPACT, a national organization that “drafts” chronically or terminally ill children into college athletic teams. As a result, an infirm child becomes part of a squad, and college students bolster the child’s support team. 

“It’s really a privilege to make them happy,” said Manion, also a veteran camp counselor. “I don’t take anything for granted.”

With that, Manion expressed gratitude for one of the major recurring lessons of her summer journey through Judges, namely that God commissions ordinary individuals for legendary battles. “The world needs leaders,” she said. “God can really use anyone.”
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