Bridge Building in Times of Uncertainty

Bridge Building in Times of Uncertainty

It’s hard to believe that over a year ago, we were all heading home to work remote for a two-week period. I still remember the last time I sat in my office in mid-March 2020 surrounded by my colleagues, uncertain about what the future would look like; little did any of us know that it would actually be more than a year before we would slowly head back to begin creating our “new normal.” Throughout the world, this has been a year full of sickness, division, fear, fire, floods, loss, isolation and so much more; however, it’s also been a year of perseverance, connection, reflection, listening and learning! I’m proud to say that this past year, the regional leadership team has been intentional about checking in on one another by meeting virtually on a regular basis. Brick by brick, bridges were built between campuses, departments and individuals within departments. We checked on each other, we prayed together, we served our communities together, we cried, we celebrated, we mourned losses with each other…and more importantly, we listened, and we learned from one another.

The bricks to build bridges of connection are strategically constructed of listening and learning…it’s hard work and, much like the art of ancient brickmaking, it is labor intensive as we intentionally search for understanding and truly live into the first part of the FPU Idea, which defines us as a community of learners. Fortunately, the result can be a collective engagement toward a greater purpose! At a time when many bridges figuratively seemed to have burned down, I’ve seen our community of learners stand as a pillar, as a beacon of hope, as bricks held together to provide passage over obstacles that could otherwise seem difficult to cross.

In God’s word we see a perfect example of what laying one brick at a time can accomplish. In a moment where things looked hopeless, Jerusalem was demolished, and the wall of protection around the holy city laid in ruins, God moved Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild. When he was mocked and ridiculed, Nehemiah gently proclaimed in Nehemiah 2:20,that “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding.” Family by family stepped up, person by person showed up and everyone engaged collectively to accomplish an insurmountable task in a remarkable amount of time; everyone came together to do their part of rebuilding…brick by brick, listening, learning, strategizing and, according to Nehemiah 4:6, “…working with all their heart.”

As God’s people looked to Nehemiah to provide leadership and direction during uncertain times, we thank God for the leaders that God has given us at Fresno Pacific University. We look to them for direction as well, as we trust them to listen, to continue learning, to strategize and to pray…then make the best decisions they can with the wisdom and discernment that God has so graciously given. Our job is to lift them up in prayer, and then to trust the direction they are leading us as they continue to seek God’s will.

As we transition back to our campuses and to our offices, my prayer is that we continue building bridges by engaging collectively and by allowing our calling to be a community of learners to lead us toward the future. Despite what we may see with our eyes, as we listen, live as a community of learners and collectively engage we can start to rebuild, adjust to our new normal and continue moving forward…and the God of heaven will give us success. We have so much to be thankful for. As poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

I’ll meet you on the bridge…see you all soon!


Denise Baronian

executive director of regional enrollment, graduate and degree completion