FROM THE PRESIDENT
The Heart of Christ-Centered Education: Compassion OVER THE PAST few months, I have had the privilege of visiting several of our CCCU campuses. I’ve talked with dozens of students, professors and administrators and toured state-of-the-art classrooms, theaters and labs. It’s been inspiring and humbling for me to see the power and impact of Christ-centered education lived out across so many disciplines and regions. But what’s stood out the most to me hasn’t necessarily been the diverse pursuit of excellence, as amazing as that is. Nor has it been the leading scholarship of our faculty, as exciting as that is, too. What’s stood out to me more than anything has been one very Christ-like attribute: compassion. From the meals students provide for their neighbors living on the streets to the academic tutors who help international students with their English; from the volunteer staffs at senior centers to the servant leadership our professors provide in their fields, I’ve seen how members of our CCCU campuses care for their communities and colleagues with the love and grace of our Lord. Their compassion, in fact, is what distinguishes Christ-centered higher education. And it’s what we want to highlight in this issue of Advance. In Christ’s beautifully descriptive account of his return on Judgment Day, found in Matthew 25, we see the heart of his priorities: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in . . . I was in prison and you came to visit me.” As the nations are gathered before him and he sits on his glorious throne, the King will “separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” The essence of the passage suggests
that however we have – or have not – responded to the “least of these” we have responded to the Lord himself. And so if Christians will be called to account for such acts of compassion, I feel infinitely grateful for what’s happening across our campuses. That some of our schools would establish extension programs for prison inmates to take college courses reinforces our mission (see “I Was in Prison and You Educated Me," page 23). That we would welcome our first-generation students reflects our vision for justice and hospitality (see “Filling the Gap,” page 39). And that we would continue to care for the sick in activities like the bone marrow drive is beyond words (see “CCCU Launches Bone Marrow Drive Effort,” page 7). There’s no question Christian higher education can be seen as at odds with some prevailing cultural winds. But there’s no debate that CCCU institutions are raising up students who care about the very things Jesus cares about, modeled first through the lives of our Christ-centered faculty and staff. This eternal perspective, lived out in the here and now, is the heart of all we value in Christ-centered higher education. We seek God’s justice by expressing it through kindness and mercy to others. We create a worldview centered on God’s kingdom, grounded in biblical truths, and reflecting the type of education that is uniquely faithful, distinctly moral and consistently Christian. And as we express these values and priorities of Christ in all aspects of our academic commitments, from the classrooms and dorms to the prisons and hospitals, we can be sure they’ll continue to spill out into the communities with that most winsome of attributes, one the world longs to see: compassion.
By Shirley V. Hoogstra, J.D.
"There’s no question Christian higher education can be seen as at odds with some prevailing cultural winds. But there’s no debate that CCCU institutions are raising up students who care about the very things Jesus cares about, modeled first through the lives of our Christ-centered faculty and staff."
ADVANCE | FALL 2015