Yesterday we celebrated a joyful day with our third and fourth year students and with the staff and families of Emmaus Biblical Seminary. It was the hottest day we've had so far this spring/summer, but everyone was in joyful spirits, even Lily, who sat through the 3 hours like a champ!
A small (but VERY exuberant!) marching band led the students into the church where the ceremony was held, and then the service included a sermon, speech by the valedictorian, receiving of diplomas and degrees, special music groups, etc. How unbelievable to watch Matt's second fourth-year class graduate, and we were blessed to have some of his graduates from last year in attendance as well.
We also had staff meetings and a staff prayer and celebration breakfast yesterday, all of which offered us lots of time for reflection on the past year.
It is astounding to me how much the Lord did this past year at EBS. While discussing the spiritual growth, ministry, unity and joyful peace of the past school year, it was quite obvious that none of the staff or students could take any credit. That which was done at EBS this year were things that only the LORD can do: transformations of the heart, godly unity, divine plans, fruitful ministry. He was so obviously close to EBS this year, and this morning as we walked through the campus, empty, locked, and silent, you can still FEEL Him.
1 John 3:3 says that everyone who has their hope FIXED on God will be purified, because HE is Pure. What an encompassing verse for the year. We become that which we focus and dwell on, day in and day out, and as EBS dwelled on Him this year, I saw us become more like Him, by His grace. Praise the Lord for that which He has done...and is just beginning to do!
Pictured here are several of our students graduating third year (blue robes) or fourth year (maroon). Also pictured, two of our dearest friends and fellow staff members, Paul and Bright, and also Guenson and his new wife, Claudia. Guenson was a staff member here for almost two years, but left in December to marry Claudia in Jamaica and begin working there. They are here for 10 days and we have already had several opportunities to pass good time with these dear friends.
Meanwhile, we are, with mixed emotions, preparing to leave on Tuesday, and preparing for our busy summer of speaking and presenting the Seminary! We are truly excited to speak out on behalf of these men and women, and to find family to walk alongside of them, not just to help them continue their studies, but to pray for them and serve the Lord beside them. We're looking forward to these speaking opportunities, as well as passing sweet time with family and friends, and Matt's "air-conditioning" dreams and my "Dairy Queen" visions have begun :)
As we pack school supplies away for the summer and prepare for another transition, we want to sincerely thank you. THANK YOU for your intensely felt prayer this past year. For your emails, for your letters, for your support, for your encouragement and for your love. We cannot even count how many times this year we have felt despair, only to receive a Godly email or letter from one of you...how many times we have lifted up a project or financial need to the Lord only to receive a check from you in the same week...how many times we have felt frustrated or discouraged and had you step up as a listening ear and a committed partner in prayer....how many times we have felt your prayers for us and Lily as we adjusted to life here as a new family....how many times one of your comments on the blog has resonated in our spirits or encouraged our souls...how many days your boxes or letters have given us joyful moments of "Christmas!" or of familiarity...
We are so very blessed by you each and could not, could not be here without your well-rounded partnership. May God bless you each for how you have blessed us and so many here!