As We Wait
Our theme passage of Scripture for this academic year is from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I continue to be amazed with our students at how they are living out these short verses while dealing with the changing scenarios due to COVID.
The Apostle Paul gave us a wonderful example of rejoicing through the challenging situations of life. I see this example being lived out by our students. Many continue to be very grateful for the opportunity to continue studying and living on campus (as our province moved to Code Red, students were given the option to continue in residence or move home for the remainder of the semester). Even as we have moved to online, they have expressed the privilege it has been to be in class with professors and other students. While we all wish we could return to the physical campus, the general sentiment is joy for what we have experienced for most of the semester.
This year has been a challenge to find service-learning opportunities for our students. In the past, they have done things like helped teach Sunday School, led a small group at the weekly youth meetingsb or served at a parachurch organization like Back Stage (Youth for Christ). But with the onset of COVID much of that has had to change. We have created a group to simply meet for weekly prayer. It seems so basic, yet so profound. To come together to pray as the Spirit leads or to pray for some predetermined requests is adding a vibrancy to the campus.
Give Thanks in all Circumstances
Looking back, the third week of the semester concluded with our annual All-College Retreat. Like most things, this year’s retreat had a different feel to it. Mimicking life on campus, we ate in cohorts, had chapel in cohorts, slept in cohorts…you get the idea. Saturday evening’s chapel began with some singing and a time of sharing the things for which we are thankful. Student after student shared of the many reasons in which to give thanks. Some profound, some simple. All meaningful. We then broke into small cohorts to continue the sharing. That evening set the tone for the entire semester.
I know I should not be surprised, but I still am. Three short verses are having a profound impact on an entire organization. Don’t get me wrong, we all struggle with the current situation from time to time. It’s not always smiles and happy faces with our students and staff. But be encouraged by a group of faithful followers living out the words of Scripture in a time when the entire planet seems to be fragmented and discouraged.
 The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1 Th 5:16–18.
Dr. Rob Reimer
President of SBC