Beloved intercultural studies professor retires

by Johannah Hensler staff writer

Elizabeth Lightbody, professor of intercultural studies, recently announced that she will be retiring at the end of this semester. “Dr. Lightbody has been an invaluable member of our department, whose contributions to the school and, more importantly, to the lives of our students, cannot be overstated,” said Stephen Clark, interim chair of the intercultural department.

Lightbody said she was born at a time when her parents couldn’t get enough of God. So, from the very beginning she interacted with missionaries and church leaders, and saw the richness of a life with Christ as center exemplified.

After graduating from the three-year program at Moody Bible Institute in 1963, Lightbody went on to finish her undergrad and her master’s at Michigan State University. After graduation, she left for the Philippines to minister for 23 years. There, she served full time and also worked to receive her doctorate.

“I never planned to do that, but I wanted to be a better church planter,” she said. With an academic resume of education degrees, she joined the faculty at MBI in 1990 and has served in the intercultural department for 25 years.

What Lightbody says she loves about teaching college students is that it isn’t a spoon-fed education; it’s an engagement of ideas. When she thinks of Moody students, she has been continually challenged by their passion for God. Her main message to students for the last 25 years has been putting Christ at the center.

Lightbody said that she doesn’t know what is next, but she has lots of options. She would love to teach short-term modules overseas, connect with grads via Skype for encouragement and training, and just stay busy.

“Retirement isn’t a scriptural principle,” she said. “I’m good with two weeks of vacation and then I’m bored.” She said that one of things she will miss the most is singing in chapel when all 1300 voices are really, really singing. In addition, she will miss the stimulating conversations with colleagues and students around campus. Something she won’t miss? Waking up at 5 a.m. to get to class.

Lightbody said that the Lord has been using the scripture of Isaiah 43:18-19 to encourage her in this next venture: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”  Erica Hostetler, a recent intercultural ministries graduate, said, “Dr. Lightbody always has a kind word and a hug for us.  She expects a lot from her students, but she also had confidence that we can rise to meet them.”

“It has been a blessing to serve with her,” Clark said. “Her passion for missions, her love and care for her students and colleagues, her devotion to the Lord and the joyful way in which she has lived out life each day among us are all things I will long remember. We will miss her greatly, but are confident that God still has some wonderful things in store for her.”

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