A Year Like No Other

Evangel – Christmas 2011


BrentI am indebted to Alan Jones, our first chapel speaker of the year, for challenging our students with “this can be a year from which you never recover.” This thought has resided with me these past few months as I have settled uneasily into the president’s chair, albeit for an interim period. As I look at my colleagues in a staff meeting, or as I speak with friends actively engaged in missional living I conclude that we all have had an experience, possibly at Bible college, from which we never recovered. In the process of diligently seeking Him, God gripped us and gave us a passion, not simply for being, but also for doing.

Although we establish our course schedule to ensure that all students completing a four year degree receive a well-rounded experience, many of our students come with only the one year Certificate or two year Bridge program in mind.

If that be the case, how then do we create a learning experience that gives our students the best opportunity to be gripped by God and understand His call on their life whether they return to ABC following that first year or go on to prepare for other vocational pursuits?

Over dinner recently, a former professor posed the question regarding how students learn. This college historically has placed a high value on ‘learning while serving and serving while learning’. The questions that now challenge us are the ones regarding ‘right’ serving experiences. If one is here for four years, in addition to a weekly ministry often in a local church, there are week-long experiences in the inner city and with a mission to native North Americans; a two week experience overseas; and depending upon the program an eight month internship.

But what of the student who is with us for one year and has, in addition to their weekly involvement, the inner city experience. Is this a sufficient context in which to integrate text and task? Is there enough risk to engender dependence upon God? Does it hold sufficient value for students wanting to prepare for impacting eternity and not only preparing for the next forty years of vocation? It is a discussion in which we are engaged, among our staff and with our trustees. Any thoughts?

Brent served as interim president of Alberta Bible College for the academic term of 2011 – 2012. He currently serves on Bow Valley Christian Church’s staff as Executive Pastor.