The following is adapted from an address given on October 25, 2015 by Kate Reid, 2015 graduate of Columbia’s Intercultural Studies BA program and Director of Camp Likely in Williams Lake, BC.
When I first enrolled at Columbia Bible College, I thought I was going to be here for one year. One year turned into four and a half. It was a journey I wasn’t expecting – one that has been really fulfilling.
People like to tell you things about Bible College. Some of them I believed at first, but along the way I realized some of the things they said were actually myths.
Myth Number 1? At Bible College, you’re going to become an expert in theology, the church, and the Bible. You are going to go back to your home church and you are going to teach those people a lesson! You’re going to be the one everyone looks up to!
Turns out that was a total myth. As I attended my church with that attitude, it didn’t go over that great. Surprise, surprise: people didn’t respond very well when I tried to correct them!
The more I listened to my instructors at Columbia, the more I realized that maybe being a Bible expert wasn’t the point. For one thing, I didn’t have anything close to my professors’ education or knowledge. If anyone was going to be an expert, it was them, not me.
But the Columbia faculty didn’t desire to be experts either. What they desired most was to follow and serve Christ with their whole hearts. That’s when I realized that my time at Bible College wasn’t about becoming an expert, it was about knowing Christ, having Him at the centre of my whole life as I serve wholeheartedly. As I focused on Jesus as the Author and Perfecter of my faith, I realized that God is the Alpha and the Omega, so much bigger than I can fathom. I’ll never be an expert! What’s important isn’t knowing information. It’s humbly getting to know the Person: Christ.
Myth Number 2. Bible College won’t get you a “real” job.
At first, this myth felt really true for me. I wasn’t sure what a “real” job was (Does a paycheque make it a real job? Is it real if the job makes you matter in society?). But I worried about it. If I go to Columbia Bible College, what will I do? What will I become?
I decided this was not a helpful way of thinking. God had called me to Columbia. It seemed foolish to doubt Him: “You called me to this school, God, but will you really provide a real job for me?” I realized I wasn’t trusting God, and I wasn’t desiring to sacrifice my life whole-heartedly to Him.
So I decided I was going to become Kingdom-focused. No matter what I did, no matter where I went, I was to follow Christ and seek first the Kingdom of God.
Now I’ve graduated, and I have the awesome privilege of being the Director of Camp Likely, a small Christian camp outside of Williams Lake. This is a job that I never even knew was real, and it is! And it even pays! This real job is somewhere I never would have thought to go, necessarily. We are in the middle of nowhere. I’m working with kids of all varieties. But it’s a place where I get to share the Kingdom of God! So my Columbia Bible College education did get me a real job. Who knew? God knew, and it’s great.
Myth Number 3. Bible College is such a bubble. Do you really know about the real world? You’re not really a part of it.
There some truth to this myth, I’ll admit. It’s even a privilege to get to live in this bubble – in such a Christ-centred, Kingdom-focused community – for a season.
But it’s also true that Columbia wanted to open the door for me to know what the real world means, to experience people who are not like me. On my internship, I went to Guatemala. A whole year, living in the real world with people who are not like me, who don’t even speak the same language. I had the opportunity to meet people I never would have met. I did so much more than learn about the real world. Columbia created opportunities for me to make a world impact, in Guatemala, in Abbotsford, in Chilliwack, in Williams Lake.
I learned that my Christian bubble isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that no matter where I go – whether it’s Columbia or out shopping or in Guatemala – I need to be salt and light. I have the chance to impact the world in all that saying and doing. To show grace to people who think and act differently from me. I’ve realized that I have love to give. And the more I come to know who Christ is in my life, I more I can join Christ in loving on other people too.
The real truth is that Bible College just might change your whole life. It’s probably more true to say that it starts with Christ – He’s the one who transforms your whole life. He transformed mine. It’s been an honour to study at Columbia. I’m so thankful for the opportunity it gave me to recognize Jesus as the centre of my faith, not knowledge. That jobs aren’t the centre of my life; the Kingdom is. And that world impact can happen no matter where God sends me.