C O L U M B I A C O N TA C T CONNECTING THE COLUMBIA BIBLE COLLEGE COMMUNITY
“Therefore we do not lose heart...” ON LEARNING HOW TO SUFFER WELL
P RESID ENT’S DESK
ON CH RIST T HE S OLID R O C K I S TA N D Few people, if asked, would willingly choose to suffer pain. But sickness, accidents, conflict, and many other tragedies are the experience of almost everyone at some point in their lives. One of my favorite Scriptures records the Apostle Paul’s testimony: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10). As I have pondered those words, I have often felt a longing to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection, but I’d prefer to avoid the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. You cannot, however, have one without the other. To become like Christ will inevitably take us through painful circumstances. Various passages speak of a ‘refining process’ where our faith is purified and made stronger through trials and challenges (Is. 48:10; I Pet. 1:7). In my own family we have a story of this nature. Before I was born, my mother contracted rheumatoid arthritis and was eventually hospitalized, unable to walk. At age 25, she lay in a hospital bed, pregnant, unable to care for her two toddlers or assist my father in any way. She despaired of life and thought to herself, “Surely the noble thing to do is to ask God to let me die soon, before the children are scarred emotionally.” Thankfully that prayer was not answered. In the two years following my mother’s diagnosis, my parents were humbled by the love, care, and generosity of their families and their church. Hard-working and selfsufficient people, they had to learn to rely on others to care for their children and provide for their basic needs. Miraculously my mother recovered after the delivery of her third child, and eventually gave birth to two more healthy boys. They have never stopped giving thanks even though my mother has experienced other health setbacks through the years.
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b y Bry a n Bo rn
Observing my parents through the decades, some of the things I most appreciate about them are their generosity and their willingness to serve others. Even today, well into their eighties, they regularly serve at church, in seniors’ homes and in the community. I am sure they were generous people before their painful journey with arthritis, but I believe God used that circumstance to shape them in profound ways, and instill in them a desire to give to those in need. Obviously I am extremely thankful my mother recovered (otherwise I would never have been born!), but not all stories of suffering end so well. Many people experience the tragic death of loved ones, or suffer with debilitating pain that never subsides. Yet even in these circumstances, we find faithful followers of Jesus who still exude love. These people are true saints; they know Christ in ways I can only imagine. One might feel that the topic of suffering is strange for a Bible College magazine. Don’t young adults have wonderful futures ahead of them, with amazing dreams to fulfill? We pray that will be the experience of all our students. Yet we live in a fallen world, and we recognize that many of our students have already walked through incredibly difficult circumstances. And for others, difficulties are bound to come. Walking in faith is relatively easy when things are going well, but what happens when hardship strikes? Will our faith falter, or will we be able to declare with the hymnist, “When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” It’s our hope that our students’ time at Columbia will prepare them to face hard times with the hope of Christ. It’s also our hope that in some small way, this issue will inspire and encourage you as you face difficult seasons in your own life. ■
05 No Band-Aids Here by Stephanie Jantzen CBC alum Chris Price authors book on suffering
01 ▄ President's Desk 03 ▄ News & Updates 09 ▄ Support Kurtis Kube - "Leaving a Legacy"
05 07 Lament by Stacey Gleddiesmith How we can proclaim the reign of Christ in every circumstance
11 ▄ Alumni Feature Kathleen Rempel Boschman - "Journey to Wholeness" 15 ▄ Bearcat Athletics Tamara Larson - "Hoop Dreams — Bearcat Style"
13 Paradox Of Pain Relief by Carey Penner On the powerful difference between pain and suffering 14
3 Lessons for Coming Alongside Suffering by Rachelle Klassen
A caregiving & counselling student shares insights
17 Journey Thus Far by Rebecca Laurenti A raw and poignant spoken word piece
COLUMBIA CONTACT | Spring ‘15 Columbia Bible College seeks to equip people for a life of discipleship, ministry, and leadership in service to the church and community.
Editor in Chief Stephanie Jantzen ___________________________________________________ Layout & Design Grant Bielefeld ___________________________________________________
Columbia Contact Purpose Statement ___________________________________________________
Cover Photo Rebekah Domingo ___________________________________________________
The purpose of the Columbia Contact is to encourage and provide updates about news, events and related college business to students, alumni and friends of the college.
Contributing Photographers ___________________________________________________ Stephanie Jantzen, Leslie Miller, Mark Klausen
Columbia Bible College provides faith formation and professional ministry preparation for Christians of all ages as well as supports the churches of the region in the fulfillment of their mission. Columbia is evangelical Anabaptist and is operated by two regional Mennonite conferences, British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and Mennonite Church British Columbia.
Contributing Writers ___________________________________________________ Bryan Born Kathleen Rempel Boschman Stephanie Jantzen Carey Penner Kurtis Kube Rachelle Klassen Stacey Gleddiesmith Tamara Larson Chris Price Rebecca Laurenti
Columbia Bible College 2940 Clearbrook Road Abbotsford, BC V2T 2Z8
Contact ___________________________________________________ Tel. (604) 853-3567 firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free. 1 (800) 283-0881 Fax. (604) 853-3063
NE WS & UPDAT ES
C OL UMB IA T RA NS IT IONS Stephanie Jantzen
recently joined Columbia Bible College as Marketing and Communications Manager. Stephanie is passionate about connecting with audiences and bringing ideas to life — something she has pursued as a non-profit communications specialist, associate pastor, and science instructor. Stephanie holds a BSc from Concordia University and an MDiv from ACTS Seminary.
Is Now Clair Weiss Our best wishes to Claire Suchy, Columbia’s Counselling Services Supervisor, and her new husband, Derek Weiss. Derek and Claire were married on January 31, 2015, and Claire is taking her husband’s surname.
Communications Assistant Grant Bielefeld is the newest member of Columbia’s Marketing & Communications team. Grant is a Worship Arts student, a freelance graphic designer, and an indie musician, so he is pretty much a creative genius and we are thrilled to have him on board.
COLUMBIA NEWS Gareth Brandt
Spirituality with Clothes On Book Release “There is no such thing as a naked spirituality.” Gareth Brandt, who teaches Practical Theology at Columbia, has just released a new book: Spirituality with Clothes On: Explaining What Makes Us Who We Are. The book explores how everything from our personalities to our life stage to our culture shapes our spirituality. Spirituality with Clothes On can be ordered through wipfandstock.com or your favourite Christian bookstore.
New For Fall 2015 ‑ Entrance Scholarships
The Financial Aid department at Columbia Bible College is thrilled to launch its brand-new Entrance Scholarship program for incoming Fall 2015 students. All recent high school grads accepted to Columbia by March 14 will be considered for the scholarships, which are awarded to those with entrance GPAs of 80% and up. The scholarships are a one-year award, and range in amount from $1000 to $2000.
Columbia Credits Going Further
Twenty-five courses at Columbia Bible College — ranging from anthropology to academic writing to homiletics — are now eligible for transfer to University of the Fraser Valley. More courses are in the process of being approved, which will give CBC students even greater flexibility in planning their education. More info is available at columbiabc.edu/transfer.
UPCOMIN G EV ENT S March 26, 2015
April 18, 2015
April 11, 2015
June 4, 2015
Scholarships & Bursaries Award Dessert Evening The Bearcat Prowl Glow-in-the-Dark 5K Fun Run
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Commencement Ceremony & Graduation Banquet 19th Annual Columbia Open Golf Tournament
MEN: 183 WOMEN: 197 TOTAL STUDENTS: 380
TOTAL FULL-TIME: 326
METZ GER HIS T ORIC A L CO L L E C T I O N
Grand Opening March 14th
Columbia Bible College is pleased to announce that The Metzger Historical Collection, housed in a newlydesigned space in the College’s Resource Centre, will open to the public on March 14, 2015. With the aim of connecting art and world history to the biblical story, the Metzger Historical Collection contains over 1200 museum-quality replicas of significant archaeological artifacts and works of art. Items of note include a replica of the Rosetta Stone, displayed in the British Museum and famous for providing the key to unlock Egyptian hieroglyphs, and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the first mass-produced book in Europe. “These replicas bring us as close as possible to the real thing,” commented Hans Kouwenberg in an address he made at a February 13 private showing of the collection, attended by Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, friends of the Metzger family and members of the Columbia community. “You’d have to travel all over the world to see them in museums.” Rev. Kouwenberg, board-member of the Biblical Museum of Canada Foundation, was responsible for transferring the Collection to its new setting at Columbia Bible College and is enthusiastic about its potential for enhancing the knowledge and faith of the local Christian community.
“It’s like a walk through a Bible encyclopedia,” noted denominational leader Rob Thiessen after his tour of the display. Such a response is exactly in line with the vision of Rev. Dr. Frederick Metzger, who amassed and curated the Collection over several decades. A Christian minister and missionary, Rev. Metzger has been honoured for his efforts to rescue Jews in Nazi-era Germany and later to assist over 5000 Hungarian refugees in immigrating to Canada. Inspired by a 1967 trip to Israel, Rev. Metzger began to collect artifacts and artwork in the hopes of helping visitors to engage with the biblical past in a more meaningful way. Columbia Bible College became owners of Rev. Metzger’s collection in 2012, renaming it in his honour. The College is pleased to carry on Rev. Metzger’s legacy and hopes that the collection will educate and inspire all who visit. An open house celebration will take place on March 14 from 10 am to 4 pm as the Metzger Collection opens to the public in its new location at Columbia Bible College, 2940 Clearbrook Road in Abbotsford. Admission is free. For more info: columbiabc.edu/Metzger email@example.com 04
N O BA N D -A I D S H E R E
C B C A lu m C h r is Pr ic e Aut hors B o ok on Su f fer i ng b y S t e p h a n i e Ja n t z e n
obody calls Chris Price a senior pastor. That would be confusing, Chris explains with a sheepish smile. “I look younger than I am, and I’m not very old. So they just call me the lead pastor.” There’s no denying that Chris Price looks young. But at age 33, he has already served five years as lead pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, a growing congregation in Coquitlam, BC. He’s a husband and father of two. And he’s the author of Suffering with God, published by Apologetics Canada in 2013. Chris is the first to admit that writing a book on such a difficult — and much-studied — topic was not the most obvious thing for someone his age to do. When you get to know his story, it becomes easy to see why he did. From day one, Chris’ spiritual journey has involved digging into the tough questions around Christianity. At 20, Chris was a brand-new Christian when someone close to him encouraged him to read Why Christianity Must Change or Die by Bishop John Shelby Spong. The book shook Chris up, undermining his newfound beliefs. He spent the next six months trying to put his faith back together, reading Christian classics by authors like C.S. Lewis. When his family encouraged him to attend Columbia Bible College, Chris decided to give it one year. He stayed for four, earning a B.A. in Biblical Studies in 2006. A standout moment came in his Anabaptist Theology class taught by Gay Lynn Voth. “It was like a switch flipped,” he remembers, “and that would actually set the trajectory for the next ten years. All of a sudden I had an all-consuming desire to study theology, to read, and that hasn’t diminished.” Good thing, too, because Chris realized he wasn’t the only one with big questions about faith. Actively involved in his church’s youth ministry, Chris found the same topics coming up in conversation again and again. “I was forced to try to answer these questions and just constantly research and study.” Among the hardest questions was the
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Suffering with God is available for purchase at ApologeticsCanada.com/store and amazon.com
It was when Chris became Calvary Baptist’s lead pastor that the suffering question became even more urgent and personal. “We went through seasons of terrible things happening in the church,” he recalls, still able to list them one by one: cancer, chronic pain, botched surgeries, depression, the suicide of a 14-year-old boy. “I wrote Suffering with God for people with faces, the people I’m called to pastor,” Chris explains. “What do you say to someone who’s grieving? How do I help people cling to hope in the midst of tragedy?” Chris’ deep concern for real people comes through on every page of Suffering with God. Where some books focus on the problem of suffering from a purely intellectual perspective and others from a more emotional one, Suffering with God works to unite the two. “They’re brought together in every person you meet,” Chris explains. First, the book looks at the logical arguments. Our typical Christian response to the big Why of evil and suffering is human free will: does the free will defense hold up? Chris’ answer — argued clearly and concisely — is that yes, it does. “Logic,” however, “doesn’t lessen the sting of loss,” Chris admits. This is why Chris moves on to explore how core Christian doctrines — the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, Heaven — offer unique and deeply comforting answers to the problem of suffering. Using Scripture, stories, clear language, and compelling illustrations, Chris explores the good reasons we have for hoping and trusting in God even in our darkest times. The title captures the heart of the book: as the redeemed, we suffer with God — never alone.
He tells the story of a father in his church who lost his teenage son to suicide. Chris gave Suffering with God to that dad. After reading it, he came back and asked for ten more copies to give to his friends and family. And, Chris reminds me, that’s exactly why he wrote it: for the faces looking back at him during worship services.
“ I wrote Suffering with God
for people with faces, the people I’m called to pastor.
one young people asked the most often: how can a good God allow so much suffering?
He wrote it for himself too. Suffering with God has transformed the way Chris pastors people. He has become quick to offer presence, to pray, and slow to offer answers. He’s also better at suffering himself. Chris chuckles as he admits that he’s still a terrible wimp when he gets a sore throat. But suffering — though heavy and difficult at times — no longer shakes his faith. He keeps trusting God and encouraging others to do the same. In the end, Chris writes in his book, it’s only “God who can reset your soul, strengthen you in your suffering, and make you whole.”■
Chris Price is the lead pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Coquitlam, BC. He has served in his current role for over 5 years. Chris received his BA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Bible College and he is almost finished his Masters of Christians Studies in Apologetics at ACTS Seminary. He is married to Diandra and they have two beautiful children, Kaeden and Mila.
Is the book a success? Chris is humble, quick to point to the book’s limitations. But when I press him, he admits that feedback from his church has been very positive. 06
PROCLAIMING THE REIGN OF CHRIST IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE
b y Stacey Gleddiesm it h
I have never had someone give me a short, sweet “Absolutely!” Yet, as I’ve continued to study and teach biblical lament, I’ve come to realize that a failure to lament in our gathered worship is one of the biggest barriers to authentic faith in our communities. Biblical lament addresses God, calling upon specific aspects of his revealed character. It engages in an honest and emotionally real analysis of a current situation — a situation that does not align with God’s character and his plan for the world. It expects our good, powerful, merciful, just God to respond — recognizing his ability to act even within a seemingly impossible situation — and therefore results in trust and praise through circumstance (not despite it). Michael Jinkins, in his book In the House of the Lord: Inhabiting the Psalms of Lament, identifies the central theme of the entire book of Psalms as “the Lord reigns.” The psalms of lament, then, hold a very special place in the book of Psalms. They affirm the reign of God even in the midst of circumstances that would seem to refute it. They shout “The Lord reigns!” into the teeth of life’s darkest
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moments, proclaiming the already-and-not-yet triumph of a good, powerful, just God in the midst of pain, hunger, sorrow, confusion, oppression, despair, and even death. If we don’t affirm God’s reign in this way individually, then we can never bring our full self to our relationship with God. We have ruled a portion of our lives — the portion that confronts pain — as outside of God’s purview, as inadmissible to our relationship with him.
“ A FAILURE TO LAMENT IN OUR GATHERED
WORSHIP IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO AUTHENTIC FAITH IN OUR COMMUNITIES.
hen I teach on the topic of biblical lament I like to ask my class whether lament should be a part of the gathered worship of the church. Inevitably the response is mixed. Some raise hesitant hands to tell me that there is value to lament in the gathered body, that we should do it more often — but that we must be careful with it. Some feel strongly that lament is important for the processing of personal grief, but are unable to see its value in a corporate setting. A few, over the years, have suggested that lament is inappropriate for the Christian life; now that we have the person and work of Christ, we should walk in that joy and limit our prayers to praise.
And if we don’t lament as a congregation? Well, then we promote the idea that our gathered worship is reserved for the happy and well-fed. That those who struggle with sin or grief or sickness or poverty should just stay home. We declare them unwelcome in our midst. (This makes an interesting contrast to Jesus’ declaration that all who do not welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked are, in fact, outside of his kingdom — Matt. 25:41-43.) By failing to lament in our gathered worship, we propagate a circumstantial faith — faith that is dependent on things going well — rather than faith that is dependent on the character and actions of God. And what are we telling the world at our doorstep? That hunger and poverty — so pervasive that they barely make news any more — are fine? That the horrors being perpetrated in Syria, Nigeria, and Ukraine are okay? That environmental degradation is God’s intention for our world? Biblical lament cries out the intention of God in the midst of the desolation of sin, calling his people to action and declaring that this is not all. That there is hope.
Sometimes lament will be a prayer: an honestly-phrased congregational prayer that doesn’t gloss over hard circumstances with trite platitudes; a song that admits to pain while expressing trust and communicating “joy in the midst”; or a passionate and specific prayer for our suffering, struggling world. Not a blanket statement asking for peace, or food, or healing, but a prayer that accurately and vividly describes the situation and calls to account those who are actively perpetrating injustice — preferably by name. Lament might be as simple as praying “I don’t know” in a circumstance that doesn’t make sense when considered alongside the goodness of God and his promises of love and mercy. Because I don’t have to have the answers, not to the big “whys.” What answer can I give my friend who recently lost a child? What answer can I give to those living with constant fear? There is, sometimes, very little to be said. What is needed, instead, is the ability to climb down into that dark corner and whisper with them, “I don’t know why. But I do know that God is good. I know that he loves you. And I will sit with you here in the dark until we start to see that light.” That is the hope of lament: the faith that one day all things will be made new, and there will no longer be confusion or pain.
“ BY CRYING OUT TO GOD TO COME, AND TO
COME QUICKLY... WE REALIGN OURSELVES WITH GOD’S PERSON AND PURPOSES.
So how do we do this in our local congregations? Thankfully, implementation of biblical lament is easier than it might seem. Sometimes, lament will be a simple expression of trust in the midst of an honest expression of circumstance. A speaker might say, “Some of us are tired today. Some of us are confused and saddened and even frightened by the forces of darkness at work in our world this week. Some of us are mourning the loss of someone we love, or perhaps of a dream we held dear — but we know, in the midst of our struggle, that God is God still. And we know that we do not walk alone.”
I tell my students that biblical lament is the eschatological seat of hope in the body of Christ. By crying out to God to come, and to come quickly — by screaming out our sorrow and frustration as a community and on behalf of the world, calling upon a merciful, powerful, just God to change things — we realign ourselves with God’s person and purposes. We find trust, even joy. We rediscover hope. And through our circumstances — in the teeth of all the darkness that surrounds us — we declare the reign of the living God who has come and is coming. ■
Stacey Gleddiesmith is the Director of Worship Arts at Columbia Bible College. She received an MDiv with a concentration in Christianity and the Arts from Regent College, and has over twenty years of experience leading worship in various church and mission contexts. She is particularly interested in the theology of worship and how that translates into our church practices. When she doesn’t have her head in a book, she can be found in the pottery studio, or hiking with her husband Andrew and their big, hairy dog.
S U PPOR T
L EAVI NG A LEGAC Y
Two Inspir ing Women by K u r t i s K u b e
E li zab e t h K l a s s en E n d ow m ent
Hu l d a Ni ckel Memori a l Bu r s ar y
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Elizabeth Klassen was born on the Island of Chortitza, (Ukraine), Russia in 1909. Following World War 1 and the Revolution, her family migrated to Canada. At the age of 28, she moved with her mother to Vancouver, joined the First United Mennonite Church and became a voting charter member. For many years Elizabeth taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and participated in women’s activities. She was always interested in church affairs, attending and advocating for Mennonite conferences, Christian education, and programs.
At age 18, Hulda Nickel began her nurse’s training at Columbia Bible College (then called Bethel Bible School). The year was 1944 and Hulda felt the calling and need to serve her Lord and His Church as a nurse. As a student, she highly valued her opportunity to receive biblical grounding for her life.
Soon after her mother died in 1969 Elizabeth, together with a number of single Mennonite women, formed a company to buy an apartment block. It was a bold, innovative financial move. She lived in that apartment until she had to move into a care home in 2007. Elizabeth had a generous spirit, caring for others without seeking recognition. She spent little on herself but was generous to others; her legacy continues today through her generosity. She was an inspiration and model in Christian faith.
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She generously shared the talents God gave her while on earth and continues to do so now with future students through her legacy giving. Hulda made the decision to include Columbia in her estate planning because she shared a deep interest and conviction that young people’s education in the Bible is essential for building a solid base for life and ministry, both in their personal faith and within their communities. A solid understanding of Scripture is incredibly important. Hulda praised God for his faithfulness throughout her life.
I m pa c t Columbia
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AL UMN I FEATURE
y e n r u Jo to e l o h W ness Boschman b y K a t h le e n R e m p e l
h g u o r h t g in h t y r e v “For I can do e .” h t g n e r t s e m s e iv g o h Christ, w Philippians 4:13
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When pain came to stay
We were in Botswana, Africa, when life started to unravel for me. It was sixteen months after the birth of our first child, and I began to develop back problems. Then a failed medical procedure left me with debilitating pain. My husband and I were forced to hire someone to do all household tasks as well as care for our daughter. Eventually, I was flown to Canada on a stretcher. Specialists diagnosed me with a condition that is incurable and results in chronic low back pain. I was told I may never return to work or normal life.
PURSUING MY PASSIONS AND CALLING
Until that point, my life had been an exciting journey with God. In my late teens, I had completed one year of pre-physiotherapy training when I felt the Lord calling me to spend a year studying the Bible more intentionally. I chose Columbia Bible College. Though it has been many years since I first set foot on campus, I have warm memories of the year I spent at Columbia. In addition to studying God’s Word, I made wonderful friendships and experienced wholesome fun in the context of a Christian community. The year at Coumbia laid a solid foundation for me to return to university and complete my physiotherapy training. After working two years as a physiotherapist, I again felt God calling me to further biblical studies. Three years later I graduated with a Masters of Divinity from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. My seemingly diverse education came together when God opened a door for me to become a hospital chaplain.
A perfect fit
Four years later, my husband and I travelled to Botswana as missionaries with Mennonite Church Canada Witness. In Africa, I was given the assignment of assisting the Roman Catholic Church of Botswana start their country-wide response to the looming AIDS crisis. To keep my license active, I also worked parttime as a physiotherapist in a government hospital.
Each morning, I thanked God for the privilege of caring for His people — body, mind and spirit.
Coming to grips with a new reality
After my back condition forced us back to Canada, so many questions went through my mind. Who would take care of our home? Who would care for our daughter? What impact would this have on my husband and me — spiritually and vocationally? Mennonite Church Canada was exceptionally gracious to us. They gave us a year to rebuild our lives. Eventually I was referred to a pain clinic. They told me I would need to rely on medications for the rest of my life. At first this was extremely difficult to accept, and I resisted.
Surrender and mercy
Eventually I surrendered everything to the Lord. I gave every hope and dream over to God to refashion as He saw fit. Over time, I found myself filled with tremendous determination to work hard with every doctor, every physiotherapist, every acupuncturist I visited. I saw many registered health care professionals and alternative medical specialists that year. I lost count of the number of healing services I attended in a variety of churches and homes that year. My husband and I prayed daily that we would trust Him to supply all our needs — financially, emotionally and spiritually. I have still not been physically healed. But with medical help, I learned to manage the pain. More importantly, I’ve experienced the grace God has extended to me to live my life fully dependent on His mercy. I praise God that thirteen years ago, I returned to work fulltime as a manager in Concordia Hospital, a Mennonite Christian Hospital in Winnipeg. The Lord has truly been my strength and my guide through this difficult journey, and I’m privileged to keep serving Him daily. ■ Kathleen Rempel Boschman attended CBC from 1977-1978. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Medical Rehabilitation (University of Manitoba) and a Master of Divinity (AMBS) degree. Currently she is Manager of Spiritual Care at Concordia Hospital and PCH in Winnipeg. She is married to Don and together they have two children.
TH E PARA DOX OF PA IN R E L I E F
hen you touch something too hot, what happens? Your withdrawal reflex activates muscles that pull your hand to safety. It’s a good example of our typical response to the thought of pain as something we want to escape. This tendency is built right into our physiology: encounter something frightening like a dangerous animal and your flight or fight response kicks in. Your body automatically responds with adrenalin and sends blood to your leg muscles to help you escape from danger. Pain, for most people, is a bad thing. Common sense says the best and obvious strategy for dealing with it is avoidance. The human distaste for pain is so powerful and the avoidance strategy so universal that in our minds pain and suffering are one and the same. To feel pain is to suffer. Period. I frequently see this stance to emotional pain and suffering in the work that I do as a counselling psychologist. Ironically, people come to counselling reluctant to talk about the very pain that brought them there. What many people want out of counselling is a strategy that will help them be more effective in avoiding the pain they feel. I recently heard a speaker describe counselling as something “you don’t want to do but should do because it is good for you.” Counsellors, this speaker seemed to feel, tell their clients things that they do not want to hear, things that are very difficult to hear, but presumably important and good for them. In this view, going to a counsellor is like taking cold medicine: it tastes awful but it is good for you. With this image of a parent fighting to get a spoonful of remedy into a sick child’s mouth in my mind, I asked myself, “Is this what people expect out of counselling – hard-tohear answers regarding their pain and suffering?” If so, no wonder they don’t want to talk about it!
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b y C a re y P e n n e r
So what should hurting people expect when they go to counselling? Will their counsellor help them avoid emotional pain or will their counsellor offer quick answers that cure them of it? Both of these approaches, opposite though they seem, reflect the same universal strategy of avoiding pain. One approach aims to ignore and deny emotional pain and the other seeks to eradicate pain as quickly as possible. Perhaps there is another approach. My experience of walking alongside hurting people has taught me that the universal avoidance strategy is more of a poison than an antidote. Efforts to push away emotional pain and the resulting struggle against it actually tend to increase human suffering, not relieve it. In fact, the best path through suffering means acknowledging and naming our pain. It’s only as people move from avoidance of pain and the struggle against it that they experience increasing levels of acceptance and healing. Of course, these are difficult steps to take and require incredible courage from the person who is suffering. Although the process does not necessarily eliminate all pain, it does help alleviate suffering. Pain no longer seems quite so — well — painful. And with practice, people grow in their ability to respond to pain in a healthy way. It’s best not to take these steps alone. Working through emotional pain requires a helper — someone willing to walk alongside the sufferer, who is open to hearing, seeing, and feeling the other’s emotional pain. This, for me, is essential to the calling of a counsellor. It is also deeply meaningful and an incredible privilege to journey along with those who suffer, and in so doing, to participate in God’s redemptive work. ■ Carey Penner is the director of Columbia’s Caregiving and Counselling program. He has a PhD in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia and is a Registered Psychologist. He will complete his 19th year at Columbia this spring before transitioning to full-time private practice within the Fraser Valley.
3 L ES S ON S FO R C O M ING A L O N G S I D E S U F F E R I N G
enrolled in the Caregiving and Counselling program at CBC to learn how to suffer well alongside hurting people. I’m more and more aware of the psychological pain people carry along, and my desire to be part of the healing process continues to grow. Every semester, I have learned something new from my classes and close relationships. Three lessons from my journey stand out.
THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EMPATHY Helping someone towards healing starts with empathy – being able to understand their situation and communicate in a way that they feel understood. To feel understood is to feel known — a wonderful thing. But helping someone feel that way is much harder than it sounds. It requires humility and grace, and it takes setting aside my tendency to slap a band-aid of advice on the situation. The truth is that even my closest friends and family will make decisions that are difficult for me to understand. Emotions can be extremely difficult to understand in myself, let alone in another person! Despite these things, suffering alongside someone requires me to meet people where they are at and acknowledge that place as valid.
ACCEPTANCE – NOT ADVICE To suffer alongside someone I must be willing to simply sit with them at their lowest point. This demands listening and silencing my voice of judgement. Providing a loved one with a safe place to be vulnerable is one of the best
b y Ra ch e l l e K la sse n
ways that I can walk with them through a difficult season. I am learning to be humble — choosing to believe people are doing the best they can with the cards they have been dealt. My extension of grace will mean more to them than my best advice ever could.
IT’S GOD WHO HEALS The most difficult lesson I have learned (and am still learning) is that I am only a tool the Healer uses to bring redemption to brokenness. In my most recent experiences of walking with friends through loss, I’ve found myself completely wrapped up in their grief. It would be nice to think I’ve become really good at empathizing, but the truth is I’ve started to take on a saviour role that no human is equipped to fill. No one has the ability to change another person’s heart. It is not my responsibility to take the pain away, but to love people in the midst of it. What a relief and a practice of humility to step back and allow God to do his healing work. I believe that God uses counselling as an instrument of redemption. As Christians, we are a part of the exciting work that God is doing to restore creation, and counselling is a way that broken relationships and harmful disorders can be healed. There are so many ways that people use their lives to establish peace and love in our world. I see my future vocation in counselling as Kingdom work that uses my passions and gifts to love others. ■ 14
BE A RCAT AT HLETICS
HOOP DREAMS - BEARCAT STYLE I first fell in love with the game of basketball in grade five. I caught on to the game pretty quick and with practice got better and better. That year, I wrote a goal in my journal: to get a full-ride scholarship to a division 1 university in the States. Basketball became my dream. But more than that, basketball became my shelter from the pain of my alcoholic home. From a very young age my life was consumed with trying to fix my very drunken mother. More than anything, I wanted my mom to be the beautiful person she was when she was sober. I fought tooth and nail to be good enough to make her stop drinking. I prayed and pleaded, but the drinking went on. Basketball gave me a home away from home. For the next seven years, I became completely entrenched in the game, practicing all the time, playing year-round, traveling all over the province to games and tournaments. My adolescent years seemed perfect on the outside: I was the “basketball star” in a small town of 1,500 people. But deep down I fought with insecurity, constantly battling the message that I was ‘“not good enough.” I did not see any value in myself as a person. Basketball was my ticket, and I had to “make it” because I didn’t know who I would be without it. One summer day in 1999, I got the call: Indiana State University was offering me a four-year full-ride 15 COLUMBIA BIBLE COLLEGE
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scholarship! It was everything I had ever wanted. But life at ISU was not what I had in mind. I went from being one of the top players my age in Canada to riding the bench. I was no longer “the best.” “Is there more to life than the game of basketball?” I asked myself. It was then that all the heartache I had been carrying around surfaced. I made the decision not to return to ISU for the remaining 3 years of my scholarship. Instead, I transferred to the University of Windsor. During the first few months of my redshirt season I tore a ligament in my ankle. Everything went downhill from there. For the first time, I could not play the game that had become my life, nor did I know who I was without it. The years following remain the darkest of my life. My faith seemed gone. I got into the party scene, obsessed with drinking, sex, and bad relationships. Body image was such a struggle that I began to starve myself, make myself throw up, and exercise obsessively. Needless to say, my university basketball career did not go as imagined. I was “supposed” to play 4 or 5 years, I was “supposed” to go on and play professionally. After graduation, I walked away from basketball. I knew it was time to learn that there was more to life and more to me. I explored the world, and I really explored my faith. When I experienced the Holy Spirit for the first time, my life changed forever. I enrolled in the Masters
of Leadership program at Trinity Western University and started to help out with Athletes in Actions’ Friday Nite Basketball program. On February 11th, 2012 I got a call from Ontario. My mother’s body was found on the front steps of the home I grew up in. It was my worst nightmare come true: alcohol had taken my mother’s life. I fell into a deep fog. Three months after my mother passed away I met up with the head women’s basketball coach at Columbia Bible College. I asked if he needed help with coaching the following year, and he said “Actually, I’m stepping down. You should apply.” I applied, but I secretly prayed that I would not get the position. I knew if God were to open the door I would have to accept such an incredible opportunity. Long story short, I was hired. The summer leading up to my first year of coaching college basketball was one of the most stressful times of my life. I was given a Bearcat shirt and bag and told to recruit players. I can’t count the number of times I doubted my decision to coach. Why, at the most broken time in my life would I have signed up for this? With all my might, I tried to round up players to field a team. As the fall neared with only two athletes on board, the more stressed I became. All my recruiting attempts were failing. Then one night, I got on my knees and cried: “Lord I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t know how to bring players to this team, but I do know what I can bring to this team, so Lord I ask that you would bring girls to this team who need an experience of team like family, and an experience of spiritual growth.” Slowly but surely, one after another, the Bearcats came. I have no words to express how powerfully God worked in that first year of coaching. God’s grace was tangible and thick. At the most broken time in my life, God used a team of little Bearcats to love me back into wholeness. There were sticky notes, cards, gifts, songs, dances, jokes, pranks, surprises, hugs, tears, worship, prayers… so many moments that healed so many layers of my brokenness and grief. After my second season of coaching I felt a quiet voice saying, “You need to play just one more season.” So I prayed and I pondered. Then it dawned on me: all those years in basketball, I had never just played to play. For so many years I played to be someone or to prove something, and I had missed out on the beauty of simply playing and the gift of teammates. So, at the age of 32, I made the decision to lace the shoes back up and be a Bearcat.
Everything is different now. Basketball is no longer who I am. My identity lies in Christ. Another beautiful discovery for me was a surprising answer to prayer: I had asked God for my team to know family and spiritual growth. Now I’m on the team, and He has given me the experience of true family I always wanted. ■
TAMARA LARSON • A s a p l a y e r a ve ra g e d : 5 . 1 8 p o in t s a g a me , 4.35 rebounds a game, and 2.08 assists a game • Head coach for 2 seasons (2012/13, 2013/14) • P l a y e r c o a ch f o r t h e 2 0 1 4 / 1 5 se a so n • As head coach, led the WBB Team to a 3 win season, their best season since 2005/2006 16
J OURNEY T HUS FA R
by Rebecc a L a u re n t i
Second Year. Coming back with a different point of view. A battered heart, maybe, But a defeated spirit, highly unlikely. Yearning to be a leader. To Teach – to inspire – ANYTHING that will instill The well-known character He has implanted in me. I desperately wanted to contribute to my CBC community. And yet God’s voice calmly whispered, “You’re not ready yet, This year is just for you and me.” So, with a heavy heart, Solitude was where He met me. Taught me. Bought me new clothes. And dressed me in His Truth. Throwing out those lies that cluttered my shelves. Behind closed doors, my grounding began. I danced – painted – sang – spoken in a brand-new poetry And all for the first time knowing…that I am HIS CHILD. Regaining my roots, I dug deep into my foundation And found nothing but his SIGNATURE Everywhere. My head, beginning to stand tall In the knowledge that He is for me, not against. That even though I had fallen so hard, I had fallen right into the palm of His hands. No longer doubting, I grabbed ahold of Class material, peer conversation, personal revelation, nature’s declaration Of his truth. And stored them safely on my shelves. ■
Excerpted from a spoken word piece written by Rebecca Laurenti, Worship Arts student See the full version at blog.columbiabc.edu/journey
17 COLUMBIA BIBLE COLLEGE
COLUMBIA OPEN GOLF
TOURNAMENT FUNDRAISER June 4, 2015
REDWOODS GOLF COURSE IN LANGLEY
Join us for a fun day of golf, friendship, and good food as we come together to invest in a new generation of Columbia students! Info, registration & sponsorship opportunities: columbiabc.edu/open
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