Saturday, May 16, 2009
Education is more than shaping the mind. Calvin College in Grand Rapids has consistently produced outstanding graduates in America. But what I like about this college is also its ethos of molding the hearts of the students. John Calvin’s words are imprinted on the wall plaque “My heart I offer to you Lord, promptly and sincerely.” The mind and the heart redeemed by Christ and offer back to Him in loving service are what John Calvin expounded in his theology. John Calvin is noted for his brilliant mind but not many know that he has a great heart. In the 16th century he reached out to the thousand of refugees who flocked to Geneva. The legacy of his reformed theology has influenced the world until today.
I never dreamed that Sarah would one day be studying in Calvin College. I had the rare opportunity to observe her professor lecturing Russian literature in her class. Soaking in every word the professor said, I realized that God has chosen the college for Sarah. My desire is that Sarah’s mind and heart will be molded according to God’s purpose and to become competent intellectually and compassionate emotionally. Education is more than downloading information and scoring with distinctions. All the professors I met praise Sarah for her academic excellence and her lovely character. I was joyful but humbled by the grace of God. I know the destiny that God has for Sarah -to walk in His way, to make Him known and to glorify Him wherever God may call her to be.
Seeing Samuel walking side by side with his sister Sarah in Calvin College gave me immense joy. Sam is intelligent, witty, creative and fun to be with. He has a kind heart. I found out last night when I was driving him home that he spent hours just to be with his friend consoling and counseling him. His good friend went through some tough time because of family problem. Sam would often help strangers in the public place when he saw their plight. The other night he was queuing for a taxi so that he could allow a Malay woman with her children to get into it. Others jumped queue and deprived the woman a chance to get a taxi home. Sam did not need the taxi as he was waiting for me to ferry him home. I still remember an incident in which Sam asked me to stop the car so that he could get out to retrieve a ball that was lying on the road. No passerby bothered to help while the children inside the police compound looked on. Many nights I overheard conversation that Sam had with his friends counseling them. One time he talked his friend out from committing suicide. He gave sound advice to his friends who went through puppy’s love.
I believe that Calvin College will be a perfect place for him. Sarah concurred. The admission director, Rosemary interviewed him and was impressed with this young man. It will be my dream comes through if I can take another photo with Sarah and Sam walking side by side in the campus. This photo posted is just a rehearsal. I will take exactly the same pose at the same spot on another day. It will certainly be my day.
“My heart I offer to you Lord, promptly and sincerely”
Friday, May 15, 2009
The first time when I set my eyes on the snowcapped mountain in Bozeman, I was captivated by its majesty and awesomeness. Bozeman is literally surrounded by mountains. It is naturally a touristic town. Winter is giving way to spring and holidaymakers are still coming to ski and to snowboard. The more serious mountaineers are scaling the steep slope, challenging nature with the view to conquer the summit. Such a place normally produces tough-minded people.
Having conversation with Pastor Jeff Hamling in a café was a delight. I was intrigued by his story of pastoring a church in Bozeman. Jeff was a youth pastor at Rocky Mountain Community Church in Billings. He left Billings to plant a church in Bozeman. I could see in his sparkling eyes that he enjoys what he is doing. Church planters are no ordinary people. They have to surmount unbelievable obstacles in order to see a church planted. It is equated as a spiritual mountaineering, only the determined one will want to venture out to the unknown. Jeff presented to me a DVD of a 5-day vacation Bible School Program “Peacemaker Clubs for Kids.” He has been conducting the Vacation Bible School for the kids in Bozeman since he came to this town. He loves the people particularly the children. He is helping the children to be peacemakers, teaching them to deal with conflicts in their lives. His is a quest for transformation of the town- one child at a time. Such calling causes him to stay on passionately doing his work. Jeff’s story was not known and was not told. But there is another story which was written into a book and it became the US No. 1 bestseller.
The first time when I saw the cover of the book “Three Cups of Tea- One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a time, I knew intuitively that this is not an ordinary book. I bought it and I have been reading it and enjoying it immensely. The author Mortenson is from Montana. When I googled to find out more, I discovered to my pleasant delight that Mortenson is also from Bozeman. It’s a fascinating story of how the failed attempt to climb K2, the second hardest mountain to climb in the world, Mortenson drifted into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram Mountains. Little did he realize that his encounter with the hospital village folks in Korphe changed his life forever. What he saw was the pathetic condition of the village school, in which the children studied in the open space without any proper facilities. The children didn’t even have pencils! Touched by the inhabitants’ kindness, he promised to return to build a school. For more than a decade Mortenson worked tirelessly raising funds, buying building materials, sourcing teachers and he succeeded in building not just one but fifty-five schools in this forsaken region of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Here is an American who through education counters the forces of terrorism. He offers every student an opportunity to be educated, to know what is good from evil, rather than to be influenced by the extremist madrassa. The war of terror is not won through military might but by winning the hearts of these Muslims children one at a time.
I find the moral and spiritual congruence of these two ordinary men who hail from the same town, Bozeman. They give their lives that others might live in peace.
God brought me to Bozeman that I might be changed.