The words of Psalm 46 have been much on my mind this morning. “God is our Refuge and strength, a well proved help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change…. Be still, and know that I am God.” Life never “stops” to give us time to catch up to the never-ending change that is part of our lives. Some of this uncertainty is simply the reality of the human condition, which is why the Psalmist’s words from centuries ago can speak so powerfully to us today. But it seems that the rate of change is more astounding than ever for us in the 21st century.
Though the students have left for the summer, the pace of campus activity at Houghton has not. As our campus becomes more and more a year-round center for lifelong learning and growth, we have hosted, so far this summer, guests from The Wesleyan Church’s Global Partners team, students from Buffalo’s schools for math and science camps, government officials from the Southern Tier, and a host of other summer visitors. And this does not take into account the growing number of students who are accessing Houghton’s learning resources through Houghton Online.
Houghton is not only becoming a year-round learning environment; we are also increasingly becoming a global learning environment. We have just signed an agreement with a technical university in China who will be sending students from their institution to complete studies in English, Business and Computer Science. This past academic year, our student body represented 40 countries around the world. This diversity has helped us learn what it means to be a place of hospitality and personal growth for a diverse student body, even as we prepare them for effectiveness in an increasingly global church and economy.
This coming year, we are expanding our Houghton College Buffalo program to serve nearly double the population of predominantly refugee and immigrant students on Buffalo’s west side. We will also be exploring the possibility of opening a similar site in Utica, another of New York State’s refugee centers, in the fall of 2017. Houghton’s founding mission of offering high-quality Christian education to students from a wide range of backgrounds for courageous and effective service in God’s global Kingdom continues—even in the midst of these changing circumstances.
All of this change is good for a traditional college campus like Houghton. We want our resources to be stewarded all year round for the sake of God’s Kingdom. We want our rhetoric about being “global” to be embodied in our campus ethos and in our campus plans for the future.
Not all the changes we are confronting are as obviously beneficial to our mission—for it is not only our own campus environment that is changing; the world in which we function is changing dramatically. The federal government’s growing attention to higher education accompanied by a growing body of federal regulation challenges not only staff time but, in some cases, areas that appear to threaten long-held religious convictions. As if that is not enough, each day seems to bring news of ever more horrific violence and terror.
Change and uncertainly can tempt us to fear. Or we can choose to do what God’s people have been invited to do for centuries. “Be still, and know that He is God.” The things that surprise us do not surprise God. He is sovereign, and no matter what changes around us, He does not change.
I am grateful for that assurance this morning as I begin this new day.
Grace and Peace,
Shirley Mullen, Class of 1976