I’ve had in my office for nearly 20 years a picture of Pastor Chen, because his is one of the remarkable stories of faith I’ve ever heard. He first shared it publically in 1989 at the Lausanne Congress I was privileged to help put together in Manila. Born into to a wealthy Shanghai family in the mid-1930s,
Pastor Chen was arrested during the Cultural Revolution and thrown into Shanghai City Jail, where he almost starved to death. “I was so hungry that there were times that I wanted to even eat my toothpaste,” he recalled. “I was so weak that I didn’t have the strength to stand up. From morning to night I would be exhausted and I could only crawl along the floor.”As well as coping with this physical suffering, Pastor Chen’s wife died during his imprisonment.
And after three and a half years in jail, he was sent to work in a labour camp.He told how in the labour camp, the guards wanted to especially punish and break him because he was a pastor. And so they made him work in the camp cesspool all alone. Because the stench of human waste was so overwhelming, none of the guards would come near.
So Pastor Chen said, “I thanked God for sending me to cesspool, because that was the only place in the labour camp to be alone and sing hymns out loud.” The words he sang, he wrote for me in Chinese on his picture, “I come to the garden alone…” A couple weeks ago, I saw Pastor Chen’s story on video for the first time.
Belhaven’s freshmen class is probably going to be our largest ever. They showed me pictures of the new students coming this fall, and how the list is getting so long it’s about to outgrow the chart on the wall. They ring a bell and have a little party every time a new student commits, which reminds me of how heaven celebrates when each of us take the steps to draw closer to God.
Our admissions process is not about recruitment, but it is about helping prospective students and families make decisions that have eternal consequences.
They also told me our class of 2012 has their own Facebook group. I’m not a prospective student, but they let me join, and it is great to see our new students already connecting, finding roommates, and making plans for the fall.
Interesting to think that lifelong friendships will be started electronically.
Last week John McCain issued a challenge to Barack Obama to participate in a series of debates. The McCain camp hand delivered the letter to the Obama camp, who received it and asked, “why didn’t you just email it?”
Clearly the world of communication has shifted with a generation — not just how we communicate, but how we even think about communication. We communicate across time zones and languages with the expectation of accessing information instantly and receiving immediate responses.
Today I had emails from Singapore, Buenos Aires, Taipei, and New York City – and that was before lunch.
I love it – because when we communicate globally and instantly, we think differently about the world and God’s work in the world.
Starting this blog, I’ll never know who reads it, from our campus in Mississippi to those who care about Christian Higher Education all around the globe. But I pray this new way of connecting will honor God and enrich our lives together.