You probably wouldn’t vote for Ben (not his real name) as “most likely to succeed.” He sits slouched over most of the time, eyes downcast, his clothes disheveled and poorly fitting. He is overweight and has a hard time getting his homework done on time, if at all. He seems disorganized, depressed, downtrodden, and undisciplined. When he speaks his voice is barely audible, but if you can understand him, he reveals concealed humor and untapped intelligence.

Chapel on Thursday was closed to those outside the IBC community. Students and staff had opportunity to share openly regarding what God had done over Christmas break. Toward the end of our sharing time Ben began to speak. He still didn’t lift his eyes and his voice was so low that we had to remain completely quiet to hear him.

He told of spending time with his brother who had recently been in a car wreck from which no one should have walked away. He and his brother were reconciled over the break. Ben went on to talk about spending time with his mother and how she apologized because she had “cussed him out” in the middle of the night during the previous semester. She had been drunk at the time so it’s a wonder she remembered it. Next the young man shared about a visit with his father (who is not living with his mother) and how his dad expressed a desire to accept Ben for the man he was. His dad also encouraged him that he could see signs of growth and positive change in Ben’s life. Sometime during their visit Ben’s dad expressed a desire to be there for his son. A great encouragement, I’m sure. Ben sniffed and tried to hide his tears as he continued. His sister was headed for jail but took the time to sit down with him. In his quiet way, Ben shared the Gospel with her and she turned to Jesus!

I was rebuked to hear his story. I forget there are good reasons some students refuse to look up or talk above a mumbling whisper. I forget they are dealing with a lot more than sloppy clothing and excess weight. I sometimes judge them when they fail to turn in homework week after week and sit by the hour in the student lounge watching movies. I really have no idea what they have gone through. May God help me develop and maintain a compassionate heart that doesn’t ignore a determination to fail but that also seeks for ways to reach out without judgment.

Please pray with me for the following:

  • That God would develop in me a compassionate heart and determination to lift up the spirits of the students even when it is difficult to do so.
  • That God would prepare the hearts of more students as we anticipate a larger student body in the fall semester.
  • For more financial and prayer support for Native staff who are able to identify with the students in a way that Anglo staff cannot. (Note: there is presently an account set up to assist Native staff who find it difficult or impossible to raise financial support without a network of interested individuals that so many of us have [see page one of the previous newsletter from IBC for more information].)

Thank you again for all you do for me. I am blessed beyond reason to have you all on my team! I pray 2016 has been a time of growth and encouragement for you so far.