“Since my youth, God, you have
and to this day I declare your
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next
your mighty acts to all who are to come.”
- Psalm 71:17-18
Growing up on a gravel road in farm country, I was accustomed to the reality of rough terrain. On our six-mile stretch of road, there were deep potholes where water washed the ground away; ruts carved by tractors and stock trailers filled with cattle and horses; humps formed by the ground swelling with the winter cold, which turned into sinkholes once spring came.
Every so often, the county would send out several tons of gravel and a road grader to make things smooth again. For a couple of days – maybe even weeks, if we were lucky – the journey would be smooth. Soon enough, though, the ruts, dips and bumps would return.
In the last few years, much of the road my parents still live on has been paved over; the six-mile stretch of gravel has been whittled down to less than two miles. On my last trip home, some of the spots that I remembered as being the roughest to drive on as a child were smooth and safe; the asphalt had done what the gravel could not.
Recently, my church’s youth pastor focused on this passage from Psalm 71. As a lifelong Christian, he had grown up thinking his faith story was nothing special – certainly nothing like those stories of God miraculously rescuing others from the depths of their own sin. It wasn’t until he was in college that he realized the truth: his parents’ faith had paved the way for his own. Their hard work and their dedication to declaring God’s power to the next generation had made his journey smoother.
We in Christian higher education are intimately familiar with the psalmist’s desire to proclaim the glory of God to the next generation. Though we face new challenges – technologically, politically, societally, and on and on – we know the power of our Savior. In this, the CCCU’s 40th year, we also recognize the power of Christians in community, the driving force behind our formation as an organization.
But though our call to pave the way hasn’t changed, how we do that changes all the time – dependent on our location, on the needs of our students and faculty, on the particular crisis we’re addressing at the time. For those of us in the United States, we’re particularly feeling the strain of shifting cultural norms and perceptions as we do this work. Our faith commitment shouldn’t waver, but now more than ever we must love those who disagree with us – that’s a point that David Kinnaman articulates in his new book Good Faith and expounds upon in an interview with the CCCU’s own Rick Ostrander.
Much of our work in preparing the next generation for this new cultural reality is rooted in how we support our students’ spiritual development. That’s why we’re fortunate to have Todd Hall, professor of psychology at Biola University, share with us the latest findings from the Spiritual Transformation Inventory, which helps CCCU institutions assess both their students’ spirituality and their campus programs. We also need to be sure we’re educating our students in how to engage and think politically, as political and cultural expert Michael Wear articulates for us so well. This kind of engagement is vitally important for faculty and administrators to focus on as well, as several CCCU administrators recognized during a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to study immigration.
In this issue, you’ll notice a number of interviews and excerpts from noted leaders within the CCCU: Biola University President Barry Corey on the revolutionary nature of a life of kindness; Northwest University President Joseph Castleberry on the role that America’s new pilgrims have in developing our campus communities; and Brenda Salter McNeil, professor and director of the reconciliation studies program at Seattle Pacific University, on what her experience has shown her about the road to racial reconciliation.
Finally, we’re excited to announce the launch of a new column: On Diversity. This column is open to experts throughout the CCCU who want to share some of the latest research, insights or trends in order to help the entire CCCU community become a more diverse and welcoming body. If you are interested in contributing to this, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, we appreciate your comments, suggestions and story ideas for Advance and other CCCU initiatives. Our goal is to serve your needs in your work so that together, we may all proclaim the marvelous deeds of God for many generations to come.
Morgan C. Feddes is communications specialist for the CCCU and managing editor of Advance.