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Stories from the Heart

Friends, thank you for your care, your prayers, and your financial support. Your generosity makes the Regent community possible. Here are a few stories from this community's heart.

The first two reflections below are excerpted from addresses delivered by the student and faculty member elected by the graduating class to speak at Regent's 2021 convocation. Both speakers reflected on the difficulties of the 2020–21 academic year and the constancy of God’s presence through it all. They also challenged the new graduates—and the Regent community as a whole—to live according to the sometimes counterintuitive truths of the gospel.

Student Reflection

Victor Chua, MDiv '21

What a year it has been! I mean, those of us at Regent have seen our fair share of disruptions over the years. We held our noses through the 2018 plumbing crisis. We survived a snow day in February 2019. But nothing prepared us for 2020.

It seemed like all hell was breaking loose.

Yet in the midst of this, God was faithful. By his grace, Regent continued to cultivate intelligent, vigorous, and joyful commitment to Jesus Christ, His church, and His world.

Together, we adapted to new modes of learning: online, asynchronous and hybrid. We welcomed new students who had been previously unable to come to Vancouver, joining us for the first time.

We picked up new ways of celebrating and caring for one another: Jams and Jingles, L’Chaim, Taste of the World, online chapel, walks in the park, meal deliveries, pods, and even chalk art.

And corporately we brought to God issues for which we had no easy solutions: for disease and divisions, praying for healing and wholeness to be somehow transported from eschatological hereafter to the everyday, here and now.

Friends, we’re not to be stuck in the years 2020 or 2021. Yes, we’ve experienced tribulation. Yes, we’ve suffered. And, it does not seem like plague or polarization are going away any time soon. But these must be taken together with, not over against, Christ’s own words.

For did not the Son of God proclaim the words from Isaiah 61, saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And did he also not afterwards say, “this day, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”?

Whether or not we feel it, whether or not we have certainty about where we’re headed, we’re situated in the year of the Lord’s favor. And He is here, with us.

Graduates of the year of the Lord’s favor, know that our mission from God, is first a mission of God. The entire Godhead is involved in this mission, and it is our privilege to participate alongside the Persons of the Trinity in this mission, Father, Son and Spirit, moving with us from here towards the locations and vocations that we are being called into.

Faculty Reflection

Mariam Kovalishyn, Associate Professor in New Testament Studies

I had no idea what I was doing trying to prepare a talk for graduation as the pandemic lingers on and on, exhausting all of us. Ideas came and went—and then one night, as my son Timothy threw himself a two-hour party in the wee hours of the morning, I found myself praying that if I could send you with anything, it would be that the joy of the Lord is your security.

Let me dispel a major misunderstanding: being joyful is not at all the same as being happy or cheerful. Joy is much deeper, and it stems from knowing God. Indeed, it is the joy of the Lord that will be your refuge.

It’s in context of pain that we first hear that phrase, in Nehemiah 9. The people who have returned from exile, and they are surrounded by the rubble of their defeat. This phrase, unanimously translated “the joy of the Lord is your strength,” should not make us think of cheerful, upbeat tunes. More literally, the joy of the Lord is our refuge, our sanctuary, our strong tower. When everything around us has been blasted to smithereens, the joy of the Lord is our mountain stronghold where we hold firm. Joy is at home in places of deep mourning and grief, our refuge from being broken by the broken things of the world.

Jesus, in his final discourse with the disciples in John 15, calls us to abide, to remain in relationship with him. He calls us to this abiding “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” The joy that will be your refuge comes from your abiding relationship with God. This is why Paul calls the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all.”

Paul says rejoicing in the Lord should lead to gentleness—a character trait our world desperately needs to see. The world desperately needs joyful Christians who are rooted and abiding in Christ, who understand the Scriptures and seek to share in all gentleness the joy they have found. The world desperately needs you to be rooted and abiding in God’s love, training your mind to what is true and good and lovely, and thus overflowing with the joy of the Lord even amidst the rubble of rebuilding a world intent on idolatry.

As you abide in God and his Word, bring all of who you are—your art, your scholarship, your nursing, your engineering, your creation-care, all of you—bring it gently to the broken places of our world, rejoicing that God is still at work. The joy of the Lord is your refuge, let your gentleness be known to all.

Donor Reflection

Gay Atmajian, DipCS ’01, MATS ’05

Attending Regent College was one of my best life choices. My professors were cream-of-the-crop scholars with a deep faith that I longed to emulate and cultivate.

Gordon Fee taught me authentic worship and passion in faith. Bruce Waltke turned Scripture into honey. James Houston encouraged me to fly with two wings, nurturing the study of faith to balance study for career. Eugene Peterson taught me with such great gentleness the “living out” of relationship with God.

Rick Watts’s words transformed how I viewed others and myself; through Rikk the Spirit spoke straight to my heart on countless occasions. Through Iain Provan, I learned and met a God of grace and found my voice as a public speaker, earning my best living for the past many years doing just that. Charles Ringma guided me through a very dark night of the soul. Maxine Hancock blessed my love of literature in tying it to my faith.

The list goes on. I’m ever grateful to all of these and more. There are too many to name, but together they were vessels of light and life and love and learning. What a gracious, brilliant cloud of scholar-witnesses. Regent proved a theological goldmine.

It’s been 15 years since I graduated with my MTS. I have desired for years to make a donation. Last year, my dear friend—my mother—passed away, I lost my job, and I battled coronavirus for months. I felt more traumatized in 2020 with those back-to-back occurrences than at any other point in my life. Yet coexisting alongside the trauma has been inexplicable joy and the knowledge that God has me and all shall be well. I have a faith that sustains me, and the depth of learning and understanding I gained from Regent has proven valuable beyond anything money could purchase. The returns in my investment at Regent have far exceeded any monetary donation I could ever make. Those who serve in higher theological education shape and impact lives both positively and profoundly, not simply during a student’s time in Vancouver but for all her days to come.

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