By Mark A. Taylor
My visit to Hope filled me with hope!
At Hope International University in Fullerton, California, last week, I found students serious about their studies and passionate about finding God’s will for their lives. In the two classes I visited, students were engaged with the Bible study their professors presented. (Me, too! I left each session wishing I could stick with the professor all semester!)
In the morning I met one young man who told me about his upbringing by missionary parents and his pursuit of God’s will for his life. Later he sought me out to discuss my sermon at chapel that morning and seek my advice for discerning God’s call. All of this was very convicting to me as I thought about how much I have to learn about the Bible and God’s will for my life.
And these students are only the beginning. What a joy to spend time with Joe Grana, the dean of the school’s college of ministry and biblical studies. His sacrificial commitment to his ministry, his gracious demeanor, and his knowledge of the Bible and the church are a blessing to encounter.
Likewise with the chance to work with campus minister Bryan Sands. Among other duties, Bryan plans and oversees the school’s chapel program, and he had planned something I hadn’t expected at last week’s chapel: a cappella music!
“Worship is about more than music, of course,” he explained, “but we can worship effectively with more than one style of music.” He told me this week’s chapel will feature African music and be led by someone speaking Swahili!
Bryan’s goal is to help students realize they may want or need to lead worship with something other than guitar music blasting through giant amplifiers. I found that refreshing, as well as his careful attention to detail combined with a warm rapport with the student volunteers who led every aspect of our worship service.
I was treated to lunch in the president’s conference room, served graciously by the president’s assistant, Sharon Carter. The guest of honor was Floyd Strater who served well for years at Knott Avenue Christian Church in Anaheim before beginning his work in the school’s development office. He came to California from the Midwest (ministries in Enid, Oklahoma, and Springfield, Illinois), and he is one of our movement’s heroes.
We enjoyed hearing him tell stories and share memories about events and personages all of us knew. Floyd’s health is not good now, but his spirit is still strong, and I left the day realizing I had spent time in the presence of a true servant leader.