I’m Glad I Came to FLBC

During my junior year at South Dakota State University (fall of 1994 if memory serves) I took an anatomy class for one of my humanities. It was a large class with a lecture section of 400+ and a lab section of about 25. As we were studying the skeletal system the professor stopped and demurred, “And contrary to what Christians teach, men do not have one less rib than women.” He was referring to (and mocking) the Christian teaching in Genesis 2 that God created Adam from the dust of the earth, and woman out of Adam’s rib.

As a young Christian I knew he was mocking me–it wasn’t the only time that happened in college. But I didn’t realize that as a Christian I was supposed to believe I had one less rib than my future wife, so I asked around. As it turns out, the reason I didn’t know that is because IT WASN’T TRUE.

The following year I was in a “Methods of Teaching Science” class. I was a three-year-old Christian and, functionally speaking, held a view of what I would now call theistic evolution: Yes, mankind evolved, but God did it all. When we got to the teaching of human origins, we were taught to teach it as a law* and not to expose Darwinian evolution to testing or evidential inquiry. I asked about why this was, and I was literally** laughed out of the classroom. “You probably believe in a real Adam and Eve. What do you do with vestigial organs?!? What about the fossil record!?! You probably think the earth is 6,000 years old!?!”

At the time, I agreed with them. Their ridicule at my daring to ask a question caused me to consider alternative worldviews. If something is that true, why mock? Now, I understand the real problems with “theistic evolution,” to wit: evolution demands lack of direction, and that any beneficial definition of “god” demands direction. There are other problems, of course, but I digress.

I came to FLBC at age 22 in 1995, after four years of college. I learned a ton about the Bible, Christian faith, and life. I can’t tell you how much I benefited. It didn’t make me more of a Christian or anything like that, but it gave content to my creed and confidence to my confession. When faced with difficult ideas it’s easy to get shaken if you don’t know what’s what.

Every spring, I hear students say things like “I’m so glad I came.” Or “This has changed my life.” Or “Thank you for what you’ve done.” Parents contact us saying, “I can’t believe what a difference FLBC made in my child.” Or “My child attending FLBC has changed the trajectory of my family.” Last year 11 students indicated that they weren’t sure if they would stay for the second year. Every one of them did.

But there is more to (almost) every story. Students (and parents) wrestle in the weeks/months leading up to the start of their first year of college. Our students and graduates are people, not products, and Jesus Christ shapes us all through processes:

  • One student drove on to campus, then drove off, then came back.
  • Another student came two weeks late.
  • Yet another came for just one semester… after his fall semester at another college.
  • Someone else came for one year, took a couple years off, then came back.
  • Another came for two quarters, didn’t like it, left, and now has made his life’s work the betterment of FLBCS.

These are stories that need to be told, but they belong to other people. I get to hear these stories more than others, and I try to pass them on in appropriate ways. Not every story is a success story but suffice it to say that it is extremely rare to hear “What a waste of time” or “I wish I hadn’t come” or “As it turns out, this wasn’t such great idea.”

It is extremely rare to hear “What a waste of time.”

The stories of our graduates vary, but what binds them together is the stability gained while investing two of a student’s most formative years in:

  • Scripture without distraction–2 years of intentional, intensive study of God’s Word.
  • Discipleship without distance–In person, mentored life together, giving students the opportunity to practice lessons learned in the classroom.
  • Ministry through the congregation–Christianity is not a privatized enterprise, and nearly all our students are actively engaged in a local congregation­­–increasingly in AFLC congregations (81% of last year’s student body attended an AFLC congregation while at FLBC, even though only 77% came from the AFLC!)

There is another genre of story that I only ponder internally: The near-miss story. These stories usually have an element of pain to them, and I certainly can’t share them in detail. But generally, it goes like this, from either the parent’s perspective or the student’s:

  • “I want my child to get on with his/her career. FLBC would be good but would slow down the process.”
  • “He should be fine: We went to youth group regularly, at least until he made the traveling team.”
  • “FLBC isn’t the only place to grow in Christ. There is a good campus ministry at XYZ University.”
  • “I would never send my child to XYZ University, but he’s going to a nice Christian University, ___________” [insert name of one of many places that started as a Christian college in 1892, but has’t been remotely Christian since the Senators moved to Bloomington and became the Twins].***

I won’t take the time to do so here, but I can answer all those objections and many more. One of them is mostly true: Nearly every campus has great campus ministry if you look hard enough, and not every student has to go to FLBC to thrive as a Christian. But that’s the point: Most students who choose not to come to FLBC do not end up at other great Christian colleges; they go to institutions of higher education that (in many cases) specifically and intentionally undermine the very foundations we teach at home, in our congregations, and at FLBC.

Most students who choose not to come to FLBC. . . go to institutions of higher education that specifically and intentionally undermine the very foundations we teach at home, in our congregations, and at FLBC.

In some cases, it all works out. It did for me–but I’m… wired. The adversity I faced at SDSU, along with some of the way I am wired, caused me to dig DEEPER into my Christian faith. Yes, students can stand under such pressure. But let’s be honest for a minute: Not many do, and the foundation for the rest of a student’s life is way too important to leave to chance or temperament. It is very hard to swim upstream as a young adult in an environment designed to undermine life’s most essential teachings.

It goes deeper too. I have watched scores of parents follow their own child into apostasy. It is hard for parents to confront the tragedy of a child gone astray. It’s terribly painful. And let me be clear–going to FLBC isn’t some cure-all talisman for the ills of modern society. We live in a fallen world. But God has called us to bring the ministry of reconciliation to this fallen world, and we do so as a loving contrast. Christians ungrounded in the truths of God’s Word–unable to connect God’s Word to God’s World–become easily deluded.

Look around for examples. Why do you think some Christians have caved so easily to homosexuality, or even transgenderism? Why do you think some Christians think that every problem–and thus every solution–is political? Why do you think some Christians have distanced themselves from the cause of the unborn? Why do you think some Christians have given up on congregational life as a whole?

Students at FLBC become grounded in the truth of God’s Word, able to connect God’s Word to God’s world in a way that produces confidence. That confidence, in turn, enables these Christians to speak the truth in a kind, well-reasoned manner. They are not easily shaken. There is no end to the number and kind of questions a Christian will face, but a believer can stand secure in what he or she knows to be true.

You see, Christians do not claim some alternative narrative, but the truth of life and reality itself. When we look at God’s world through the lens of God’s Word, we see reality the way it really is. In a way, doing so is an exercise in sanity. We are faced with making sense of pressing questions, from just putting food on the table, to raising our kids, to bioethics, to war in Ukraine, to claims about gender, sexuality, and the nature of the family. But we can’t even start on those until we answer life’s biggest questions, among them:

  • Who is God?
  • Who am I?
  • Why do I exist?
  • Why does it matter?
  • What do I do with my sin?
  • Where will I spend eternity when I die?

Continuing my educational path at FLBC prepared me well for a life spent asking and answering these questions, and many others. In those classes and in dorm life, God prepared me to minister in His kingdom in my family, in many congregations, and in society as a whole. Dare I say it? I was established in the eternal and inerrant Word of God for a life of faith in Jesus Christ and faithful service in His kingdom.

I would love to see you, or your loved one, attend FLBC. It’s not the only place, but it’s a great place. And I’ll certainly respect your decision. But education of an 18 to 22-year-old mind isn’t something to be taken lightly, entered into quickly, or determined without consideration of God, His Word, and His finished work in Christ. I’m glad I came. And you would be, too.

Pastor Wade

*I use the term “law” properly here, and caution against the colloquial use of “it’s just a theory,” since the word “theory” means something specific in science. I teach a unit on epistemology in Apologetics and Christian Thought at FLBC, and one thing we look at is how science works and what it can/can’t do.

**I use the term “literally” literally here, as in, “this really happened.”

*** That last one is the one that kills me. It’s one thing to go onto what you know is hostile ground, spit out some bones, learn what you can, and thrive as an on-campus missionary. But it’s quite another to go someplace that claims to be Christian but intentionally undermines the substance of the Christian faith. And these places are usually more expensive than truly Christian alternatives, so you’re actually paying a premium for the duplicity.

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