By Frances George
Are you and your student in the midst of college applications? So many choices. Are you wondering, “Should my beloved stay close to home, close to me for college, attend my alma mater, or should I let him or her try their wings and take flight and go to that school that is not just down the street or down the interstate, or even within the state?” This blog will hopefully remind you that yes, though you may think you are losing something by sending your child to a school that is not your alma mater, not just down the street, you are actually gaining so much and more importantly, so is your student.
This truth came to my mind with several non-connected events just this past week.
I was at a leaders’ meeting early this week for a women’s Bible study I attend. One of the leaders walked in and though her mother had just passed from Time to Eternity the night before, there she was. At one point, she answered one of the study’s questions, making a personal application from her mother’s very recent passing. She said she woke up and was struck by not only the death of her mother but her father-in-law’s death just the week prior and a difficult season in her own personal life. She said she had prayed that morning, “God, so much loss.” And then she said that it was as if an audible voice spoke to her heart clearly saying, “My dear daughter, you see loss. But, oh, look how much you’ve gained…a new grandchild from one child and a son-in-law from another. So much gain.”
We are halfway through the semester at Baylor. Week 8.5. Midterms are piling up. Papers are coming due for our students. Thanksgiving and Christmas seem so far away. Rehearsals for Pigskin Revue are getting later and later…so much loss…of sleep! And for you as parents, you might be thinking, “How could I send my child so far and not be there to help navigate it all?”
But may I remind you, that though those things may hold a modicum of truth in one sense, let me assure you, the gain of being at Baylor far outweighs the loss of distance and familiarity. Just now, I listened to a podcast of Dale Wallace from Baylor’s “Vertical,” a weekly Baylor Bible study with over 1,000 students in attendance. Dale challenged our students to find their rest in Jesus. He reminded them that, yes, we need to pause. We need to stop, to rest, and take stock but without Jesus at the center, it is hollow rest. “The purpose of the pause is to point to the person of Jesus.” Oh, look how much our students have gained from the wise words of a Baylor graduate, who has chosen to stay on campus in ministry and encourage our students concerning matters holding eternal significance.
This is the gain of choosing Baylor: students constantly encouraged to press into knowing Christ more.
In another Vertical Bible Study earlier in the semester, Dale encouraged the students to live on mission with 5 challenges:
- To work while they wait for God to move in circumstances
- To develop a heart for others in class and on campus
- To be faithful no matter the place or platform…be faithful with the little things. The platform will come in time.
- To be bold and relevant in their conversations about Jesus with classmates–to develop that heart and establish rapport and then give the reason for the hope they possess, in Christ.
- To be obedient no matter the outcome and remember, the outcome isn’t up to them. It’s up to God. Trust Him.
This is the gain of choosing Baylor: practical ways to live out your faith presented to you and 1,000 of your closest friends each week! (I have actually, with Dale’s permission, shared these five truths with a women’s ministry team here in North Carolina! The gain goes beyond the Baylor campus!)
And yet there was more: The evening concluded with the story of a former Baylor graduate student who was challenged by a friend with this statement when he arrived at Baylor and started a small Bible study in his apartment. The friend said, “God has brought you to Baylor for a purpose.” That Bible study grew to the point that over 10% of Baylor’s entire population came each week to study the Word (Baylor has nearly 17,000 students. You do the math!). After ten years on Baylor’s campus, this graduate student, Louie Giglio, finished his work at Baylor and founded The Passion Movement where millions of college students have gathered around the globe annually to worship and know God more fully and deeply. And it all began at Baylor, with one Bible study, in one graduate student’s apartment, who understood what living life on mission meant and a friend, who was an encourager, reminding him that “God brought you to Baylor for a purpose.”
This is the gain of choosing Baylor: a place that develops leaders who go on to impact a generation and a place that develops friendships that encourage a heart.
The evening’s message ended with a prayer for the students who represent the future, the classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022… “You can have an impact now. May this group of students gathered here tonight change the world as you begin to realize you are here on mission. You are here for a reason.”
This is the gain of choosing Baylor: students who realize they are at Baylor for a reason, a reason that intentionally weaves together their Baylor experience with their academic endeavors. Each student’s Baylor degree serves as a launching pad for living life on mission, changing the culture, changing the world, skills honed while at Baylor.
Could it be that God is saying to your student, “God is bringing you to Baylor for a reason.”
You see, at Baylor our students don’t only hear this at a campus ministry gathering. They hear it in the classroom, from professors who challenge them to be their best academically and spiritually. They hear it from their peers, a student body made up of a caliber of students unlike any other university in the country. Baylor students are not only exceptional in academics. They are exceptional in character. I see it in the little things, in the way a young man asks for a date by saying, “May I have the privilege of taking you to dinner?” I know. It happened to my daughter.
The measure of Baylor students is found in the strength of their character. Character begins at the top and is found in the example of a President whose first act as Baylor’s President was to gather her closest staff… and pray. And it makes its way down to professors and in the life of campus ministry directors who challenge the students to find rest – even during midterm season – by residing in Jesus. It is found in the upperclassman taking a young underclassman under her wing and showing her the way.
The loss you may sense because of distance is far outweighed by the gain of all that is Baylor. You cannot understand it until you spend some time here. Baylor is more than a university name. Come for a visit and you will begin to see all you will gain and say with me from 1,200 miles away, “Loss? What loss? Oh, look how much we’ve gained.”
It is… the Baylor difference.