Issachar Alumni Spotlight: Shushan Chavelas

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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Shushan Chavelas

“It takes courage to be a part of the Issachar program,” recalls Issachar alum Shushan Chavelas. “It isn’t an easy process, but we grow through vulnerability. It is a beautiful journey.”

Shushan Chavelas is originally from Mexico and moved to Colorado at the age of 16. She grew up in a predominantly Mexican migrant Christian community here in Denver and is still very active in her parent church. Until Issachar, her small community was all
she knew. Shushan was part of the Issachar Center’s 9th Class.

“I hardly ever picked up a newspaper before joining Issachar,” Shushan recalls. “Now, five years later, not a day goes by that I’m not reading about what is happening in the world.” The Issachar Center is named after the tribe of Issachar – a group of people “who
understood the times and knew what God’s people should do.” (1 Chr. 12:32)

Shushan is one of many Issachar alumnae who is not only reading about issues; she is responding to them.

After Issachar, Shushan continued volunteering at Joshua Station, providing translation for families transitioning out of homelessness. She also worked as a community liaison at Clayton Early Learning Center. In 2012, Shushan married her husband, Ryan and they recently purchased a home in Lakewood, CO. Shushan is now pursuing her masters of Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver, with hopes to better serve those that are overlooked in our city.

“Issachar allowed me the opportunity to expand my goals and dream about my place in the world.”

Shushan heard about the Issachar program through a friend, attended a Tuesday night and thought to herself, “I’ll keep coming even if they don’t accept me into the program.” She did get accepted, and she spent the next two years at Issachar while finishing her last two
years obtaining a Global Studies degree from Colorado Christian University.

Shushan saw the lives that the Issachar leaders were living and desired to live with the same passion. She looked forward to each class or Tuesday night discussion. Shushan was introduced to various theologians she considers influential voices in her life to this day such
as St. Thomas Aquinas. Furthermore, Shushan said, “Issachar changed how I prayed.”

Neighborhood walks, cross-cultural roommates, and other experiences that created “a new tension I had never experienced before. This tension provided incredible growth for me as an individual and allowed me to experience different cultures and the person of
Jesus.”

“The community was such an important part of the experience. There were other people also wrestling with hard issues, and we came together to validate one another’s dreams for justice… to lovingly enter into the world.”

Shushan has compassion that drives her to give generously. She is indeed responding to the call of God…and living out the vision of the Issachar Center.

Check out more information about the Issachar Center for Urban Leadership at www.issachardenver.org.