I just came back from listening to the closing testimonies of the students at Fairwood Bible Institute, and some of their words were so good and encouraging that I thought I would share them with you for a change of pace and encouragement. Some were interesting and funny, and the whole service was heartening because of the many ways that God has been working in the students. His work has been wonderful in their lives.
Since I don’t have permission from the individuals to share them by name, they will remain anonymous. They may also be paraphrases rather than accurate quotes, since I’m a slow typist and couldn’t get them all down exactly.
One student put it this way: “The trick is to be thick skinned and soft hearted.” She described herself as previously being thin skinned and “thick” hearted. In talking about what God had used to help her, she told about a pit bull named “Daddy” that she had seen on a dog show, a strong and gentle dog who didn’t go wild or defend itself when attacked by other dogs. This behavior was attributed to the fact that he was secure in knowing his owner loved him and “had his back.” This thought helped the speaker not to be so defensive, because God loves her and “has her back.”
“It’s easy to react to self-righteous people, self-righteously,” she went on. “I can rejoice in the love that God shows others, because He has the same love for me.” This thought helped her in dealing with jealousy or feelings of being left out, when she saw God showing love to others.
Another student said: “I was an extremely broken individual before I came, and I had nowhere else to go—and I ended up here.” This individual has had dramatic work going on in her life, and it was evident to all. Praise the Lord! The mentoring program proved invaluable for her: “My mentor was someone that really, really, really helped me. She told me to change my story”—meaning the inner feeling that she was just a loser and would never be different.
Another student was helped by the passage, “Do not fear: you are of more value than many sparrows.” She went on to share that, “I had a lot of dreams in my heart, but the Holy spirit helped me to see that those dreams were selfish, and I needed to have new dreams. I had friends here that didn’t abandon me and helped heal that fear of being abandoned.”
Another student’s words included, “Lifted vision,” “Focused on the Holy Spirit,” “Was called to be all in, and not afraid of what that might involve.” The Holy Spirit “Helped me to accept the challenges with joy, and to believe my identity in Christ, even when I didn’t feel like it—and to use that as a weapon. God didn’t put me here by accident.”
The next speaker talked of seeing a fellow student who had “blossomed here. It’s really beautiful to see.” At first she “Hated it [being here], but then… this is great!” She was encouraged to seek the Holy Spirit and had a special experience of His helping her feel His love. When “Deep seated problems came up, I realized my priorities were not good. God wasn’t really first. I considered leaving many, many times. But I began to learn patience: it felt as if experiences were beating it into me; but I feel as though I’m finally getting it.”
A second year man mentioned a specific class: The study of the post-captivity prophets helped him a lot, as did his mentor. He had debated within himself about coming for another year. But a verse from the prophet Joel encouraged him that that God would bless him, and he made the decision to come. Joel 2:19, “Behold, I will send you grain, and new wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith.” He had been dealing with a lot of anger and even hate, but he had been helped to do a lot of forgiving. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Another put it this way: She didn’t want to come in the first place, despite being repeatedly encouraged by someone else to do so. She kept saying No, until one day when “I said No … immediately I felt as though I had said No to Somebody that I shouldn’t have said No to.” She realized that she “didn’t trust anyone except myself, which is really a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I’m an extremely stubborn person, but God always wins.” She had “just wanted it to be easy, but He used these years to stretch me more than I thought I could do. I often wanted to leave,” she added, but she never did, and God is doing a beautiful work in her life. She has “Loved seeing other students blossom, and it’s easy to see it in such a small school, because it’s like a family.” In her own blossoming, she felt as though God got across to her to “Forget the former things; I am doing a new thing.” Even when she found the new things hard to see, through dry times or hard times, she felt Him teaching her, “You just don’t see what I am doing.” And then a real hardship during the year helped her reach out to somebody in her life she had never connected with before.
And finally, one young lady actually put it this way: “Firewood drives should last all year, and that’s all we should do”! If she were in control, someone asked, is that what she’d do? Her reply brought the house down: “If I was in control, I wouldn’t do anything!” Nevertheless, we can see that God was in control in this student’s life, and He has done dramatic things for her. Praise the Lord!
So another year is closing up at Fairwood, and in spite of various bumps and challenges it is once again abundantly evident that just as He does in other places, God has been at work, and continues to work mightily in these students. I wish you all could have been here to hear it firsthand, but I trust these excerpts are an encouragement.
Thank you all for praying for the Bible School, and please pray that God will continue His good work as students graduate or go home for the summer.
Have a blessed Sabbath!