No matter where they are on their spiritual journey, God is at work in the lives of students at CUWAA.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the fall 2022 edition of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor special magazine edition.
Nygie Rhodes’ (’22) faith journey at Concordia University Ann Arbor happened in harmony with his budding love of music.
The Chesterfield, Michigan, native began trumpet lessons when he was 9 years old, but growing up his attention to music always competed with his involvement in sports. A three-sport athlete in high school, Nygie initially came to Concordia on a track scholarship, but his passion for music took root while at CUAA and it soon began to pull him in a new direction.
Early on in his freshman year, teammate Nate Harris invited Nygie to a Night of Worship (formerly Tuesday Night Worship) service. Nate was a senior at the time, and his girlfriend was one of CUAA’s lead worship singers. Nygie remembers how kind and welcoming both of them were despite the gap in years. The first time Nygie walked into the Kreft building for Night of Worship the scene immediately struck a chord. He saw the crowded room and liked the potential it brought to meet new and interesting people, but it was the music that really drew him in. Within 15 minutes, Nygie says he was hooked. That night sparked a curiosity that he continually sought to satisfy throughout the remainder of his time at CUAA.
From Night of Worship, Nygie began to attend Daily Chapel and quickly became a regular accompanist there. At the same time, his fervor for classical music and ensemble performance was on the rise. He began to turn his ambitions to earning first chair among Concordia’s wind ensemble, orchestra, and marching band groups.
“I was just amazed by this whole music world that is out there that I was pretty oblivious to in high school,” Nygie says. “I wanted to get good. I saw juniors and seniors that I wanted to match in skill level. I wasn’t very good at first, but I practiced over and over to get there.”
Nygie admits that in the beginning his attendance at Concordia’s worship services was solely about the music. As his presence increased, however, so did his interest in all matters relating to God.
“One thing led to another, and this is all by God’s doing,” Nygie says. “I would have conversations with people to try and understand God better. I began to read the Bible on my own time. I’d have talks with our campus pastor about it. In order for me to feel like I was truly a part of the community, I wanted to know more.”
By the time Nygie was a senior, he had earned a spot as a leader among CUAA’s music groups. He also became a model in his faith life.
“Nygie was one of the hardest working members of all of our ensembles during his time here,” says Dr. William Perrine, director of instrumental activities and associate professor of music. “He tirelessly devoted himself to not just improving his own performance but encouraging other students in the program to excel as well. It was really a joy to watch him develop into such a significant leader throughout his time with us.”
Nygie is now graduated from CUAA, but music remains an important part of his life, especially as it pertains to his devotional routines. He plays his guitar several times a week, sometimes even daily, and keeps up on his nightly prayer practice, which he started while at CUAA.
“I didn’t grow up in a very religious home,” Nygie says. “It wasn’t until I came to Concordia that I realized I could actually use my skills as a way to honor God.”
For that reason and more, Nygie says he’s forever grateful that he ended up at Concordia.
“I do believe I was led to CUAA for a reason. That reason was to grow in my faith, and to use my gifts as a way to honor and worship God.”
The Music Department at CUAA is a comprehensive Liberal Arts music experience that offers students the opportunity to study, perform, and travel (domestically and internationally) with departmental ensembles. Click on the link below to learn more.
—The fall 2022 Hearts Together magazine hit mailboxes in early October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.
— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-243-2149.
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