Beyond Racial Boundaries
Michelle Biernbaum always looks to intentionally serve and align her life with God’s purpose. She grew up in the same house that her father lived in since he was three years old in the suburb of Florissant, MO, and was homeschooled until her senior year of high school by her parents, Brian and Christine Biernbaum. Currently a senior at Greenville College, Biernbaum is double majoring in Spanish and Marketing. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, playing the piano and saxophone, and reading mystery novels; especially those by her favorite author, Agatha Christie.
Biernbaum chose to study Spanish in college because she possessed a love for other languages and cultures:
From the time that I was a child, I was fascinated by ways of life that were different than mine; especially when it came to the Spanish language.”
She learned some basic Spanish during homeschooling but did not delve deeper into the language until college. Her interest in business was nurtured early in life through involvement with small entrepreneurial ventures such as lemonade stands, volunteering with gift shops and yard sales, and family encouragement. Growing up, Biernbaum recalls watching television with her father and analyzing the commercials. Her father also taught her how to manage funds. Expenses and profits encouraged her to take leadership roles wherever she could. After graduation, Biernbaum’s plans include integrating her Spanish and Marketing degrees by creating advertising campaigns that appeal to Hispanic demographics.
In the Fall Semester of her junior year at GC, Biernbaum studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. There, she worked with the New Light and Life Christian Community (La Comunidad Cristiana Nueva Luz y Vida) by volunteering with their LOGOS Learning Center ministry. She assisted with the operation of their English academy by substitute teaching and tutoring. During that experience, the Lord brought her through many challenges: living with a host family, battling illness, encountering cultural barriers, and combating homesickness. Biernbaum commented,
If God can place me somewhere so unique, and use me somewhere I never thought I’d find myself, then I can have faith He will use me for His glory no matter where I am.”
Throughout that trip, she was given the opportunity to worship and live among those who are different and unfamiliar.
Biernbaum was surrounded by a very diverse community at a very young age. Her passion for unity emerged from her surroundings in spite of differences. Growing up in Florissant in North St. Louis County helped her see beyond racial barriers and form relationships. Halls Ferry Christian Church, Biernbaum’s home church, taught her to embrace the mission of uniting all tongues, tribes, and nations through multicultural, multiracial, and multigenerational fellowship.
Even though she experienced some adversity as one of the only white children in her neighborhood, Biernbaum praised God for the opportunity to have learned to view people for who they are and not for their outward appearances:
Full reconciliation must come through an understanding that no person’s identity is comprised of racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic labels. God made each one of us uniquely in His image. That means that each of us bears a representation of God in a way that no one else can. If we see each other like that, then prejudice has no further place.”
From Biernbaum’s statement, it’s obvious that she was raised in a loving Christian home and taught the value of loving and respecting people as children of God. She would like to be remembered as
someone who tried to understand people for the complex individuals that they are and learn to love them as they are.”
Whether advocating for unity and healing or pursuing her passion for Spanish and advertising, Biernbaum hopes to glorify the Lord and inspire others to do the same.