This evening will be bittersweet for me. I am going to the Alumni Homecoming banquet at the college I graduated from in 1974. (I know–I am truly getting old!) The reason it is bittersweet is that the college is in its last year of existence. When May arrives, the last graduating class will receive their diplomas and a school that has been in existence since 1956, will merge with another college. Like many Bible colleges the financial burden of staying open, the pandemic, and the lack of incoming students have created the perfect storm, causing hard decisions to be made.
Unfortunately I have seen several Bible colleges close in the last decade. I could cite a multitude of reasons why the majority of Bible colleges are struggling to remain open. Some of the reasons are valid, some of them are not. But that is not really the purpose of this post.
When I started college, I did not come from a Christian home. My parents were good people and had high moral standards but seeking and serving God was not a priority. I was blessed with a neighbor who sent me to church camp, made sure I had rides to church, and invited me into her home. She mentored me and I was so grateful for it. I was challenged in church camp to make a commitment to serve God by learning more about him at Bible college.
When I started Bible college it was the first time I had ever been around so many Christians. I gained a firm foundation for my faith, and believe me, it is a foundation I sorely needed. I learned to question Scripture, evaluate its meaning, and look at its context. I learned that Christians have flaws and not everything is perfect (including the college and the people there), but in spite of it, God can use them for his good. I developed friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Even in my small graduating class, I can tell you where the majority of them have landed and how they have served God through the years.
So many memories and so many stories. So many times shared with laughter and tears. So many late night papers and early morning classes. While my college days are long behind me, I will still mourn the loss of a school that helped me build a deeper, richer, relationship with Christ. I know not everyone left college with great memories, and that saddens me. But for me some of my most enduring memories and some of my best friendships were formed while I was there.
So tonight I will reconnect with many friends and acquaintances. I will listen as stories are shared, laugh at the memories, reminisce about those who have passed, and probably shed a tear or two. I have my own stories–things like the night I woke up to see my roommate sitting on the edge of her bed with a wash cloth and soap in her hands. I got up to go to the bathroom and as I opened the door, I found myself drenched with a bucket of water. Seems Debby and friends had been having a water war, and I ended up the victim. The look on Patti’s face was priceless (as was mine) when she realized exactly who she had thrown the water on. It did wake me up! I still laugh when I think about it.
So tonight I will celebrate the fact that I have been privileged to do life with some of the finest Christians I have known. I will thank God for an institution that through the years has trained ministers, missionaries, and ordinary Christians to spread the good news of the Gospel throughout the world. I will come home with new memories. and I will celebrate that because of Saint Louis Christian College many precious souls have come to know the wonderful grace of Jesus. Homecoming to heaven is going to be a great reunion for sure!