MISHAWAKA—Is Bethel’s Interim President Barb Bellefeuille, Ed.D., going to get the theme she challenged Bethel with this year tattooed on her foot? Only time will tell.
The theme for this year, He must increase—I must decrease (from John 3:30), was what Bellefeuille spoke on in the first week of chapel, showing off her new tattoo of the logo designed specifically for this theme. That got the attention of the entire student body, and everyone had a good laugh after she revealed it was only henna. However, the message Bellefeuille spoke was on this topic and focused on putting others first.
“If we [Bethel] could be known as people so self-less, and if our students in this area in the city of South Bend, in our neighborhood, and even with each other, could be people who are not self-indulgent but are focused on being servants to each other, how much would we prompt other people into good works and be content to seek God—that would be transforming,” Bellefeuille said.
The theme was inspired by a book Bellefeuille read on anxiety and her witnessing all the stress and anxiety going on around her.
“Continuous self-indulgence actually ends up creating self-imposed anxiety,” Bellefeuille said.
The book said people think self-indulgence (not talking about taking a nap or taking a break to eat lunch) is healing but it ends up having the opposite effect. It brings emptiness and is not what people were created to do and in that no one can ever be satisfied. Building a better Bethel starts with putting others first on a day-to-day basis. It is what will make Bethel stand out.
Bellefeuille was drawn to the education scene from a young age in life. She grew up in Michigan and attended college in South Carolina.
“It was life-changing for me, I was the first one in my family,” Bellefeuille said. "Getting a teaching degree and moving into teaching was a dream.” She was pushed by good friends of hers to get her master’s degree and eventually her doctorate at Virginia Tech. Bellefeuille had a passion and vision for training teachers how to think biblically about their students, curriculum, and life in general.
Her first teaching job was at a college in Georgia. In this position, she felt that she was living out her dream. Then opportunities to be in leadership positions started coming up. Bellefeuille felt she needed to move closer to home, but only wanted to work in a Christian based school. That was when Bethel came into the picture. Bellefeuille felt drawn to Bethel because of the proximity to her home, but it kept her attention because of its mission. She got the job as Vice President for Academic Services and filled that position for nine years before leaving it to become interim president.