Happy “official” summer!
It has been said that the test of the health of a higher education institution is the level of activity on campus when classes are not in session. In other words: How active is your school evenings, weekends, and during the summer? When I arrived to the Indian Bible College six years ago (July 2008) the campus was “dead” after hours and on weekends. In the summer there was, on average, two works teams and little else happening.
This summer we are seeing more activity then ever: we have about one-third of our student body staying on campus(most of them to work), our first summer school class (with six students), seven work teams (the first arrives next week) helping with work projects and community outreach (kids clubs for our multi-ethnic neighborhood; this is new this summer), and a weekly Praise & Prayer night for students, cell church members, and work teams. This is creating a level of activity and excitement we’ve never seen here in summer before! Please pray for the students that are staying on campus this summer (most of them to work) that they would use their time well and continue to grow. Pray, also, for the community outreach the cell church is doing with the work teams.
It is the last week of the school year! This week is packed with end of the year (and 55th anniversary) events and wrapping up classes. (See attached for a list of the events this week.) The end of the year is always bittersweet: sad because some students will be leaving for good and most of the rest for the summer and exciting because we get to celebrate the faithfulness of those who completed a program (12 students will receive a degree or certificate this year). It is also sweet because we finally get some rest! After a lot of 50-60-70 hour weeks the summer is a nice respite, with reduced office hours, vacation, and a slower pace.
For years now we have sought to be a school full of Christ’s grace and truth (John 1:14). But how do we know if students are perceiving and embracing this? Two weeks ago we had a chapel for confession and repentance and were amazed at the response! Chapel normally goes 65-75 minutes; this chapel lasted 2.5 hours! Ten students and one staff member shared their struggles and sins with the whole school; after each person we gathered around them and prayed for them. The amazing thing about all this is that it is culturally inappropriate for Native people to reveal vulnerability; for these students to be this open and honest requires tremendous courage and willingness to pay any price to be whom Jesus wants them to be!
Last week I stood in front of my Christian Family class and asked: “How was the experience of writing this paper?” The responses were fairly consistent: “painful”, “hard”, “it made me angry”, and even “I was too angry to even complete it”. The paper being referred to is the “Family of Origin” paper, in which the student evaluates their upbringing and the impact it has on them today. Every year I cry my way through the grading of these papers, so overwhelmed am I by the brokenness and pain our students have endured. The abuse, abandonment, and hopelessness of most of these “families of origin” are overwhelmingly oppressive.
I am writing this from Terminal 4 of the Phoenix airport, waiting to fly to Portland to begin 10 days in the Northwest. I am speaking tomorrow in Hillsboro at Westside Baptist Church. This is a Plymouth Brethren church, which was the movement IBC’s founder was a part of. I am looking forward to sharing about the school and to connecting with some folks that knew IBC’s first president, Gordon Fraser. I always like getting a better sense of the legacy of IBC, which I am privileged to be a part of.
Happy New Year my friends! The Indian Bible College spring semester is under way…
We have three new full-time students (from the White Mtn. Apache, Pueblo, and Chippewa tribes); unfortunately three students will not be returning. I have spent numerous hours over the last two weeks working with several staff to develop a “financial probation” method of applying grace to those who are struggling to take responsibility for their school bills. As you know, we don’t allow students to go into debt for their IBC studies (which is why we raise support so we can keep costs low enough to be attainable), but freshmen usually struggle with this to a very great extent. So we are continuing to develop our application of the grace and truth of Christ as it relates to students and their school bills.
The last day of the semester was on Friday–it went by so fast! We had a remarkable (historical?) semester in that no students dropped out! Every full-time student that begin in August finished in December–all 29 of them! Some struggled financially (either with a lack of personal responsibility or lack of resources); others struggled academically (we will have several new students in academic probation next semester); one student was even in jail for a couple of days! But all the students persevered to the end of the semester with a good attitude (and positive response to our efforts at restorational discipline) and all but one plan/hope to return next semester.
Greetings to you, the faithful in prayer and encouragement! It is on the sufficiency of Christ and the knowledge of your prayers that I take rest in this moment. As I write this it is “one on one” day, where once every five weeks I meet with each member of my discipleship group individually, and–to be completely candid–after six hours of disciplemaking ministry and four cups of coffee (the favorite treat of my girls) it is a comforting place to rest.
October has already been an interesting month:
Presidents’ Gathering–Early last week I travelled to Kansas City on Monday and back on Tuesday for a gathering of Bible college presidents (from the Association for Biblical Higher Education; www.abhe.org). Being with 20 presidents was a very encouraging and informative experience. I developed and furthered a number of relationships, including a relationship with another president and school to develop an “articulation agreement”, which would allow students to transfer there knowing how many credits they would receive. I also sat next to the president of ABHE and talked with him about our application to enter the accreditation process this Fall; he expressed his great enthusiasm for this!
Happy new school year!
The new Indian Bible College school year is under way and we are excited! We have a great student body that is excited to be at IBC!
The week before the start of school is always interesting, as we are training new leaders and preparing for new student orientation. This year was especially challenging, as many of our new applicants waited until the last possible minute–the last two of the new freshmen were accepted on Wednesday and then came the next day for orientation! We oriented 10 new freshmen and trained 12 student leaders that week; fall enrollment is 29 full-time students and 40 total (with part-time students). Our chapel is packed when we all gather together twice a week–PRAY that we can grow our facilities so we can grow our school! (We had so many guests at yesterday’s “Ministry Fair” chapel that there were some that couldn’t even make it into the room!)
First chapel of the year!
With the annual staff retreat beginning this coming Tuesday the relaxed pace of summer is coming to an end! The summer has offered a lot of benefits: sabbatical (for rest, study, and family time), the availability to preach twice in my home church, lots of time to connect with volunteers and local leaders, and a ton of work done on our campus by work teams (so much has been done, in fact, that I am a little bit like “a kid at Christmas”, waiting with anticipation to see how the students react!)
I can’t believe IBC’s summer is half over already! The time is flying by! Last week was significant: Monday was the five-year mark of our tenure at IBC and Friday we celebrated my 40th birthday. I started in youth ministry before I was 20; if the Lord gives me the opportunity to do vital ministry until I am 80 then my “ministry years” are only 1/3 gone (20 adult years out of 60)! 🙂 I am praying that this next third (i.e. the next 20 years) will be even more fruitful than the last third.
We have an Academic Dean coming in just over a month! The visit with Kevin and Dawn Newman (April 27-May 1) went very well and we were able to have a good number of meaningful interactions that gave both them and us a good sense of the potential partnership. I formally extended the invitation on Friday and just received word today that they have accepted!
March was a VERY rough month! Some of the “big events”:
- Feb. 28 Left for support-raising trip to Oregon and Washington.
- March 5 Went to the emergency room with a kidney stone.
- March 13 Flew from Portland to Flagstaff to deal with a campus crisis, leaving my family in Oregon; returned to Spokane on March 18 to retrieve my family.
- March 18 Arrived back in Flagstaff with a flu bug picked up in Spokane.
Have you ever been sick and returned to work refreshed? That is exactly what happened earlier this month; I spent several days in bed really sick but when I was “back in action” (just in time for our semi-annual board meeting) I was somewhat renewed and excited to get back to it! As many of you know, I have struggled with exhaustion and burnout in wearing too many hats, and isn’t it just like our gracious God to use the flu to help provide the grace and encouragement needed?!? Thanks to all of you who prayed for us in our infirmity; your prayers were definitely answered.
The last three days has been really difficult, as Sarah and I have both been really sick. We were in Phoenix this last Thursday-Saturday for the ANAM (Association of North American Missions) regional (where I had the privilege of representing the association as its board chairman) and picked up some bug in the hotel. We have both been “flat on our back” the last three days but are on the mend. I was able to limp in to the school tonight and teach my first Christian Family class–with 20 students! This was my main prayer for the last few days, as I view this class as one of the two or three most important classes that IBC offers.