By Kayla Lutes, Features Editor

Senior Emma Nessleroade has a unique upbringing spanning five different countries: America, France, Belgium, Mali and Senegal. Nessleroade’s background has afforded her amazing experiences and an insightful view of different cultures, but there have also been times when living in a different country has put her and her family in danger. Nessleroade’s father works as a missionary doctor, and his dedication to his work left him separated from Nessleroade and her family during a time of unrest.

“When I was a junior in high school, the military staged a coup and overthrew the Malian government,” Nesselroade said. “There were Al-Qaeda related rebel groups in the north of the country that took advantage of the civil unrest and took control of the major cities in the north, imposing Sharia law and starting a civil war between the north and south of the country. All of this went down in the span of a week. My family was told by our mission’s organization that we needed to leave the country for safety, so my sisters, my mom and I, along with a few other missionary families in our town, drove across the border to Burkina Faso.”

Nessleroade’s father stayed behind to keep the hospital running. She remembers the night before she and her family fled, packing her bags and then lying awake, wondering what would happen next.

“This was one of my first experiences with being in danger, and there was a lot of fear in my heart,” she said. “I remember praying and choosing to trust God even though I felt so out of control. I had so much peace after that.”

Though the situation may seem unreal to a comfortable American mindset, Nessleroade gained a trust that penetrates even the most dangerous of scenarios. This kind of trust can only come through experience, and Nessleroade’s upbringing has afforded her many other invaluable experiences and lessons.

My family was told by our mission’s organization that we needed to leave the country for safety, so my sisters, my mom and I, along with a few other missionary families in our town, drove across the border to Burkina Faso.

Nessleroade had always considered her upbringing as American, but in coming to Asbury, she has seen the parts of each culture she still carries with her.

“Each culture that we got to live in shaped me in ways I didn’t even realize until I moved back to the states for college,” she said. “France taught me to value beauty and art and also how to get my wallet back from metro pick pockets. West Africa taught me to structure my day around relationships rather than what needs to get done, and it gave me a respect for wisdom and experience.”

Experience was one of the things that brought Nessleroade to Asbury. She and her sister, Ellie, are fourth generation Asbury students.

“We grew up hearing about and visiting Asbury,” she said. “This school is actually a huge reason why we ended up living overseas and being MKs.”

Asbury also provides an avenue for Nessleroade to continuing growing in wisdom.

“Asbury has been a place of learning to put my time, my possessions and my future on the altar to take up whatever the Lord has planned for my life,” she said.