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As a Communication Studies major at Westmont, I was quickly taught one of the cardinal rules of communication: know your audience. You might have the best argument or the most moving speech or the wittiest punch line, but none of this will mean much if you aren't speaking to the needs and understanding of your audience. The message will simply be lost.

Over eight months ago, I joined a team of ten others from my church to travel to Uganda and host a marriage and family conference for couples, widows and single parents in one of our sister churches. These Ugandan people have experienced tragedy and devastation over the past several decades, to the point where families are broken and marriages are suffering. Our team was asked to bring a message of hope and restoration that would speak to our audience, rather than what we as Americans might think they need to hear.

We decided on a powerful theme for our conference: Imago Dei, Image of God. Woven throughout our main teaching times and workshops was the message that each person is created in God's image, and thus worthy of respect, love and value. Since each person is unique, this also means that everyone experiences love differently. One of the biggest lessons I learned from this entire trip was the importance of loving others as they desire to be loved, not the way that I decide to show them love. Knowing your audience extends farther than simply choosing what words to say and what messages to communicate; it means honoring others as image bearers of God.

My experience in Uganda was life-changing, and since returning I am continually challenged to love others as they desire. I think back to my time at Westmont and wonder what community would have looked like if I could have stepped outside of myself a bit more and known my audience. Whether you will be seeing friends again soon at Homecoming or simply catching up over email, my prayer is that the Class of 2004 will serve each other and those around us in ways that reflect our unique identities, shaped in God's image.

Grace and peace,


P.S. Check out the blog about my trip at

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