Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's Steve Been Doing #3

My most recent trip was to Bryan College, in Dayton, Tennessee. This was one of my most favorite ministry activities of my entire time here in the States. I simply love visiting the Bryan College campus. I was invited down by long-time friend Matt Benson, the Director for Spiritual Formation there. Bryan College has sent out two mission teams to Micronesia in the past years. We even have a Bryan College student doing a 4-month ministry internship with our PIBC missionary in Palau, Rob Watt (see below in "What's Steve Been Doing #1"). This is also the school Amy first attended before she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The campus is beautiful, nestled among mountains, and is itself located on a mountain. I always enjoy my time here.

Here is Matt (left), along with two of his three staff, Bryan graduates Danielle Rebman and Jessica Hundley. Jessica's boyfriend Joel, also a Bryan grad, is at the right.This is the third staff, another Bryan grad, Ben Norquist, with his expecting wife Ariel. Ben and our Amy were classmates several years ago, and met on a mission trip to Spain and Morocco. Ben invited me to speak in one of the classes he teaches, a Worldview class, which compares and contrasts differing worldviews with the biblical worldview. My stories from Micronesia provided a real life context for many of the concepts there were learning. Together, Matt's team is responsible for creating an atmosphere for spiritual formation in the lives of the Bryan students, mainly through chapel programs, student-led ministries (local and international), and student-led small groups with incoming Freshman. They train student leaders to assist other students in growing spiritually. One of the reasons Matt invited me down was to speak in a couple of their chapel services.

My theme was "The Power and Beauty of the Gospel" as lived out in the context of my life and ministry in Micronesia. I taught on 2 Timothy 2:15 illustrated with lots of stories about life and ministry in Micronesia. Real-life story lines, especially from the mission field, grab attention and provide the context for memorable application of biblical truths against the backdrop of post-modernism.

The auditorium was filled with 750 students and faculty. The second day was a great challenge for me because I had an enormous headache that kept competing with my concentration and focus. But the Lord proved He was the dominant power. My favorite part of the whole trip was interacting with students and faculty alike afterwards in the dining room as we ate lunch and discussed spiritual issues together.

Some of you will recognize Pam Davis at the left. She was one of the Bryan students who came to Micronesia on its first mission trip in 2004. She returned to Bryan, graduated, and came back to teach English at PIBC in Guam and on our Tol island campus for one year. She's currently pursuing her Master's degree and is teaching at Bryan's writing center. Here she is seated with three other Bryan faculty. One of the other things I enjoyed was interacting with Bryan's President, Steven Livesay, Academic VP, Cal White, and the Development Director, Jim Barth. They provided great fellowship and insight into improving our operations at PIBC. One of the things we talked about was inviting Bryan faculty to take a sabbatical and come teach at PIBC for a semester or a year.

I can't tell you how blessed and excited I was to see Emily Cook, a 2007 Bryan grad who also came to Micronesia on the 2004 mission trip. A Freshman at the time, Emily shared with me about her spiritual journey since that time of discovering God's goodness. She has since graduated, has spent 6 months in Peru teaching missionary children, and is back in the Dayton community following hard after God's heart and teaching English as a Second Language in a local school. I stayed with Matt and his wife, Melody (and their two sons, Jonathan and Joshua, and as of yet a third child, an unborn daughter!) in their home. My last evening there found me on their back, screened-in porch, amongst 15 or so student ministry leaders. I was asked to share with them a little bit about how they could develop leaders under them to take responsibility for their ministries after they graduate next year, since they are mostly seniors. Again, I cannot possibly communicate with you all the excitement and joy I experienced sharing what I have been learning in the mission field with the Bryan community, and all that I learned from them.

When my time was done, I boarded a plane and headed once again to Winston-Salem and Clemmons, North Carolina. My main purpose was to meet with a fund raising consultant to discuss a plan for private funding for PIBC. Then I met Walter and Teresa Falardeau for lunch at Salem Village. It was Walter's birthday. No age given!

And helped celebrate Anna Mayer's 13th birthday (she's in the green jacket next to me) with her family.

And Sonia Talato's birthday with her family and friend, Jeanne Runyun. Again, no age given!

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