This fall we will launch the celebration of our 75th Anniversary and the revision of our strategic map for the next three years. These events channel our thoughts toward a hope-filled future, a mission realized and a commitment to “extend the influence of the Kingdom of God through the work of our faculty, staff and students.” Planning is easy, but implementation is always challenging. As a Christ-centered learning community that is prophetic (according to the Fresno Pacific Idea) we intend to “engage the cultures and serve the cities” throughout the Central Valley of California, nationally and abroad.
Sometimes we overlook the foundation in which we were established as a Christ-centered community. That foundation directs the integration of God’s word in our learning context. We belief the Bible is our source of wisdom, the strength for our faith and the guidebook for our future. We have advanced the concept that “possible happens here” at the university and seminary because “with God all things are possible.” But often our realities are framed in doubt, suspicion and fears which distract us from the presence and promises of God.
Just recently Yvette and I traveled to Europe for work and some vacation. During this time, we reviewed a difficult teaching of Jesus in Luke 18:1-8. Each day our thoughts were directed to a question Jesus poised to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Jesus asked the question after encouraging the disciples to always pray and to never give up. He provides a parable about persistence for those who would follow him, then raises the question of commitment: will our trust in him persist until he returns?
We do not debate the importance of prayer in our work. Our challenge is persistent faith. Our trust in him is the real question. Do we really believe that prayer can influence our work together? Not that we earn God’s favor for our success, but that we have placed ourselves in position to see what he is doing and understand his desires—“Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come.” If so, then why do we make prayer and his word cursory to our work and not central to our actions. We become so distracted with our reasoning that our confidence in the possible is based on what we can reason.
The Fresno Pacific University community, including our seminary and all regional campuses, will launch our year with a convocation called “Gather 2019.” This event kicks off the 75th Anniversary celebration. We begin the year in corporate celebration, worship and prayer, followed by seven weeks of prayer for the future of the university, our regional communities, national and worldwide issues that influence higher education. This time will launch our year with remembrance and thanksgiving for the past and anticipation for the future. We encourage all faculty, staff, students, friends and alumni to join us in the activities planned throughout the year. Our hope is that this year we will mature not only as a Christian university, but as a praying community that really believes that “with God all things are possible.”
I trust that this year we will examine our own persistence as we serve in ways that honor God on our campuses, in the region, nationally and globally.