1 f al l 07

Gor don- Conwel l Theol ogi cal Semi nar y
FALL ’07 VOL.36 NO.2
in Crisis
2 f al l 07

Board of Trustees
Mr. Joel B. Aarsvold
Mrs. Linda Schultz Anderson
Dr. Richard A. Armstrong
Dr. George F. Bennett
Rev. Dr. Garth T. Bolinder
Rev. Dr. Richard P. Camp, Jr.
Mr. Thomas J. Colatosti,
Mr. Charles W. Colson
Rev. Dr. Leighton Ford
Mrs. Joyce A. Godwin
Dr. William F. Graham
Rev. Dr. Michael E. Haynes
Mr. Herbert P. Hess,
Mr. Ivan C. Hinrichs
Rev. Dr. John A. Huffman, Jr.
Mr. Caleb Loring III
Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz
Rev. Dr. Christopher A. Lyons
Mrs. Joanna S. Mockler
Fred L. Potter, Esq.
Shirley A. Redd, M.D.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Jr.
David M. Rogers, Esq.,
Vice Chairman
Mr. John Schoenherr
Rev. Ken Shigematsu
Mrs. Virginia M. Snoddy
Mr. John G. Talcott, Jr.
Joseph W. Viola, M.D.,
J. Christy Wilson III, Esq.
Rev. Dr. John H. Womack
William C. Wood, M.D.
Emeriti Members
Dr. Allan C. Emery, Jr.
Mr. Roland S. Hinz
Rev. Dr. Robert J. Lamont
Mr. Richard D. Phippen
Rev. Dr. Paul E. Toms
Dr. Robert E. Cooley,
President Emeritus
Dr. Haddon W. Robinson
Dean of Enrollment Management
Mr. Bill Levin
Director of
and Editor of Contact
Mrs. Anne B. Doll
Assistant Director of
and Assistant Editor
of Contact
Mr. Michael L. Colaneri
Graphic Designer
Ms. Nicole S. Rim
Matt Doll
Ministering to People in Prolonged Crisis
Anne B. Doll
Ministering to Children in Crisis
Anne B. Doll
Broadcasting Bible Teaching and Laughter
5 Days a Week
A New Leader for Gordon-Conwell
Why Do We Suffer?
William David Spencer and Aida Besançon Spencer
After Virginia Tech: Speaking God’s Words
in the Midst of Crisis
Derek Mondeau
Responding to Suicide
Karen Mason
Ministering to Women in Crisis
Alice P. Mathews
Singing in the Night
Gary A. Parrett
The Call at 2 a.m.
Kenneth L. Swetland
The Practice of Prayer
Moonjang Lee
Seminary News
Opening the Word
Thomas D. Petter
Inquiries regarding CONTACT may be addressed to: Editor, CONTACT
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,
130 Essex Street, S. Hamilton, MA 01982 Tel: 978.468.7111
or by publicrelations@gcts.edu
gordon-conwell theological seminary does not discriminate on
the basis of race, gender, national or ethnic origin, age, handi-
cap or veteran status.
cont ent s
FALL ‘ 07 VOL. 36 NO. 2
Illustration on page 6 by Cameron Colaneri
Candlelight Vigil at Virginia Tech (See page 16).
3 f al l 07

In a stone wall on a narrow, twisting street in the Christian
quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City is a black door with a gold
cross stretching its length. Inside, high on another stone wall,
hangs a life-size wooden cross with a crown of thorns.
to people in
Anne B. Doll
4 f al l 07
The riveting crosses at the Jerusalem Alliance Church
are apt reminders of the suffering and hope that once con-
verged on a cross—twin realities for Rev. Jack Sara and his
100-plus congregation as they reach out with humanitarian
aid and the Gospel to West Bank Palestinians.
Currently completing his D. Min. in Missions at Gor-
don-Conwell, Jack grew up a block away from the church
in a house on the eighth station of the Via Delarosa. He
has served as senior pastor since 2000, and is also a profes-
sor at the Bethlehem Bible College.
The church’s ministry is chiefly among the nearly 2.4
million Palestinians living in hundreds of villages and cities
in the northern West Bank. Less than 2 percent are Chris-
tians. Its relief work started with the current Intifada when
countless individuals, including some of their own members,
began struggling to survive. “Unemployment is up to more
than 65 percent, so people have no food in their houses,”
Jack explains.
During a Sunday service, he challenged his church not to
wait for others to help, but to feed people themselves. From
the proceeds of a second offering that day—eight times
the normal offering—they launched their Compassion and
Mercy ministry, feeding families they knew.“Before then,
we never thought of food as a means of evangelism or a
means of entry.” Jack says. “We mainly wanted to preach
the Gospel and give Bibles and tracts until the Lord really
moved us.”
As the Intifada worsened, friends from outside the
church began giving toward the outreach, enabling Jack
and his members to provide even more relief, and with
that came the need to organize this ministry. The church
appointed two men whom Jack says have hearts for the
ministry and are “great evangelists.” As they started taking
out food and medicine, he says, “many doors were open for
real ministry to people.”
Today, through what is now known as the West Bank
Relief Project, seven workers are traveling almost daily
from village to village, providing food vouchers, medicine,
transportation to medical treatment, educational scholar-
ships, and counsel and comfort from the Word of God.
“We cannot believe what the Lord has done through this,”
he comments. “Sometimes the workers have barely enough
money to run the ministry and sometimes they have abun-
dance. But always there has been salvation of souls...people
asking why we do this. And we have to tell them the truth
even though they are not of Christian background.”
The church also operates a compassion center that
reaches 22 villages in the West Bank’s Salfeet area. Through
this center, teachers, primarily from the church, provide
courses in art, sports and fitness, music, family issues, He-
brew and English, offering some of these courses in various
In addition, people are trained to support themselves
by making olive oil soap, raising chickens and learning
marketable computer skills. Short-term mission teams offer
periodic special events such as sports tournaments, medical/
dental clinics, community clean-up and children’s programs.
A second center in Ramallah provides training for leaders.
Because of conditions within the West Bank, prompted
in large part by the wall now surrounding the area where
they serve, Jack says much of the ministry is to people in
prolonged crisis. “People feel in prison,” he says. “People
cannot go to work. A lot of kids can’t go to their schools.
It is really causing a lot of pain and crisis to people, some
even who are part of our church.”
New believers in Christ are often ostracized from their
community, and sometimes disowned by their own families.
Within recent months, one man was kidnapped and threat-
ened with death if he did not return to his former faith.
Another man’s family was threatened because he began
evangelizing, and several girls were imprisoned in their
homes for following Christ.
Jack’s team members also receive threats, are spit on
and called names. Sometimes they must follow circuitous
routes along dangerous roads to reach people for Bible
study or discipleship. One of his ministers was driving on
a main street when someone in a passing car pulled a gun
and started shooting. The minister was not injured, but suf-
fered the trauma of “seeing death almost in the face...These
are people I’m in charge of. I have to take care of not only
their spiritual health, but also their physical needs.”
The conditions, he admits, sometimes “are wearing on
us. We are not getting the easiest time in our lives.” Minis-
try, he says, includes “anything from food to feeding them
with courage. We do that through spiritual revivals, and
being with them...just standing alongside them, understand-
ing them and what they’re aching with, and training them,
of course, in the way of Christ.”
5 f al l 07
isters who are supposed to
do counseling to others. It
causes us to go as well into
counseling a lot of couples.”
Jack admits that despite
Middle Eastern taboos
against men who cry, he is
not ashamed to pour out
his heart “in weeping and
crying, not as a pity on our-
selves, but just pouring the
aching of our hearts before
the Lord. Otherwise, it keeps in your heart and you get bitter in the ministry.”
He also focuses on God’s call. “Except for the call,” he adds, “it would be much
easier to go and live somewhere else...Being from Jerusalem, being with a lot of
visitors, there are a lot of temptations. People say ‘Come to the U.S. and share
about your work. Maybe you could stay for a year and go from church to church.’
All that just blurs sometimes the real sense of calling for the work of God. If it’s not
for the calling...and really feeling God’s Spirit leading, it would be easier to focus
on teaching in the Bible college or doing service in the ministry. People are the
hardest work to do.”
To further equip believers, the church has created the
Alliance Leadership Training Institute through which they
teach not only the Word but also ministry skills such as
how to do relief work, how to counsel, how to get coun-
seling, and a course on the theology of suffering. In the
church, they also preach on forgiveness and reconciliation,
encourage members to take part in reconciliation confer-
ences, and periodically invite Messianic pastors to preach.
Jack says that many people come to Jerusalem teaching
about “prosperity, health and wealth, while we are seeing
that people are suffering. And these are good believers. We
know that they’re keeping the faith, living strongly for the
Lord, and they’re suffering. That’s no answer for them. I’m sure
they’re full of faith but their situations are overwhelming.”
What is the Gospel message he gives? “The point of
Christ’s redemptive work on the cross—him suffering and
dying for us,” Jack replies. “We cannot just move away
from the whole idea that Jesus himself had to suffer. Jesus
himself had to pay a very big price. If he did that, then who
are we to claim prosperity or to proclaim that we could be
well and not ache and suffer for the sake of our people.”
One of the blessings of suffering, he affirms, is that joy is
its eventual byproduct. “I can think of a lot of stories like
that—people who have matured. Very few would be will-
ing to be drawn back into their past lives. A lot have been
encouraged upon suffering, facing persecution. Their faith
molds into a better one, a stronger one, a bolder one.”
And, amid the suffering, his team experiences miracles in
the course of ministry.
“As our people have gone into villages that no Chris-
tians have entered before, some families have said, ‘We
have been waiting for a Christian to come and visit us.’
They say, ‘We have this dream constantly about Jesus him-
self, telling us, “Wait. Someone will come and visit you”’...
And when our ministers came, the people said, ‘You are the
ones we are waiting for.’
“And others have visions of Christ himself telling them,
‘Read the Book. Read the Book’...So as soon as our guys
came, they said, ‘We don’t want food. Give us the Book.’
As these things happen, our team gets encouraged that it is
not only a desperate situation. There was someone before
us working, preparing the way for us to go there. Or we
are preparing the way for others to come and work, plant-
ing seeds of love for people, seeds of acceptance for Chris-
tians. Maybe someone will come after us and they will say,
‘The Christians did good to us.’
“One of the greatest signs is that our ministers have seen
a lot of salvations and were able even to establish a church,
several cell groups, and baptize people. And we’re not talk-
ing about people who come from Christian backgrounds.”
When these things happen, Jack says, his team gets even
more passionate about the Gospel.

How do pastors ministering in prolonged crisis sustain their own faith
and vision when they suffer in the course of tending to others? Rev.
Jack Sara, Pastor of the Jerusalem Alliance Church and a professor
at the Bethlehem Bible College, shares insights applicable to ministry
in any setting.
When pastors are battered in ministry, Jack Sara advises, “We have to be
very serious in what we’re doing. Our wounds have to be healed...Some-
times it’s a very bloody path in terms of just getting wounded by your own
people for being a minister. We have said many times that maybe getting
persecuted, pressured from outside, is really nothing compared to being
pressured from inside.”
When wounding occurs, he says, “We have to face it squarely or go with a
lot of pain within, and sometimes it will stay there and put pressure within
us until it explodes somewhere else. So we have to talk about it with Godly
people who can help us. I just can’t emphasize enough the whole impor-
tance of accountability.”
Sometimes this includes marriage counseling for his ministers, because
the stresses and bruises of ministry can manifest in negativity, anger and
nervousness. “The place this usually shows up is in their houses with their
wives and kids, so we have to do a lot of marriage counseling with min-
when ministers suffer
Rev. Jack Sara, Pastor, Jerusalem Alliance Church
6 f al l 07
I N CRI SI S children
When Gordon-Conwell D. Min. candidate Niveen Sarras
started teaching Sunday School and Confirmation class in
2005 at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Beth-
lehem, Palestine, she wanted to teach children the Bible,
and its precepts on loving their enemies, accepting Jesus
and dealing with their neighbors.
They wanted to talk about killings, curfews, stone throw-
ing and land confiscations.
Niveen, who is the church’s Director for Christian Educa-
tion, says that while the children still tell her “the same
news” every Sunday, she now listens first and lets them
share their concerns. Then she begins the slow and loving
process of teaching them how to trust God, and how to
pray for their enemies, their country and for the problems
of the world.
“It was not easy then because they were shy; they didn’t
like to talk,” she explains. “Slowly, slowly, I encouraged
them and slowly...their anger and grudges were less than
before. I was just teaching them that through prayer and
forgiveness, they can get rid of all of their bitterness and
anger, because I experienced that in my life.”
Now Sunday School includes worship, prayer, and teach-
ing supported by biblical stories and games. During an ad-
ditional weekly Bible study for confirmands, students learn
about Lutheran doctrine and practice, and discuss their
faith. She also holds youth meetings each week.
Most children now enjoy participating in the church’s
Sunday services when she assigns them tasks such as Bible
reading, playing instruments or presenting small plays.
And when the Global Youth Day rolled around, the youth
conducted the entire service. “That helped them to trust
themselves and to help at the church.”
Moreover, after the service, her pastor (whose steadfast
support she describes as “a gift from God”), commented
that he was seeing some youth who are able to be pastors.
Most of Niveen’s students have spent their entire lives
in the shadow of Holy Land conflict. She says widespread
unemployment “affects the children so much. When I ar-
range for hanging out at a coffee shop, some of them say,
‘Sorry, we cannot go because our parents are out of a job.’
The church helps as much as it can.” And when she at-
tempted to plan a meeting for the youth of her church and
the Lutheran church in another city, travel restrictions and
dangerous roads posed too great a hazard.
“We cannot move from town to town, city to city,” she
explains. “It’s difficult and the children realize that, and it
really puts them in a bad situation. They are under stress
all the time. They are suffering in this situation...All of
them are traumatized.”
For the older students, trauma manifests in yelling, fight-
ing, lack of attention and depression. Younger children,
she explains, “sometimes are just shocked.” A course in
trauma therapy has helped her better understand and help
the children, and she has seen improvement among both
age groups.
Much of Niveen’s teaching, of necessity, consists of help-
ing the children know and trust God through the difficul-
ties they encounter—a concept that crystallized when she
arranged a field trip to Jerusalem. As she recounts, she had
secured the needed permits, but when their bus arrived at
Anne B. Doll
7 f al l 07
the checkpoint, soldiers refused to let the children through.
Rules change often, and now they needed birth certificates.
“The children started to cry, were very depressed, so I
told them, ‘Our God is greater than the soldiers.’ And I
asked them to trust and pray to God...that they will see
how God delivers them.” She started phoning parents, and
soon all but five arrived with birth certificates. When it ap-
peared that the remaining five would not be granted entry,
Niveen and the children started praying again, and in the
end, all were allowed to cross without problem.
“I asked the children, ‘Do you now know how much God
is good to us, how much He loves the children? No matter
what you face in your life, you will see Jesus glorified.’ They
were so excited; they couldn’t believe themselves...Then and
there in the bus, they started to pray, asking God for protec-
tion and thanking Him. It was their testimony to God. I was
so excited.”
The ordeal lasted for two hours, and Niveen thanked
God for using it to work among the children. And she
determined that the harrowing experiences the children
share with her can be teaching opportunities. “It’s a long
process,” she admits. “But in the end these children will trust
Jesus more than anything else.”
Currently, she is seeing children progress in their ability
to pray. “We’re praying for their words,” she says. “We
use the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23, but now they are using
their own words, not always the words of the Bible. That’s
a huge change in them.”
Niveen notes that because of the occupation, many par-
ents and young adults have lost their faith. “I have many
people say that there is no God. If God exists, He would
not allow this to happen to us.” She responds with her
favorite verse in the Bible, Romans 8:28: “And we know
that in all things God works for the good of those who love
him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It is
the same verse that she shares with her youth and children.
“That’s the testimony of my life,” she emphasizes. “I
share my testimony with them about how he helped me so
much—always giving testimony...When they say the Bible is
just stories, I say that God helps me share His love...Every
experience, every hardship in my life, God wanted something
for me and it’s for my benefit. God understands all these
things they’re experiencing.”
While her ministry is not to adults, many of the parents
have started attending church because their children are
asking them to come. She advises the parents to encourage
their children at home and help them with their homework.
Her D.Min. thesis will focus on working with parents in
order to help their children.
In addition to her work at the church, she instructs Chris-
tian Education teachers in all the Lutheran schools in the
West Bank on how to teach children about biblical issues,
the Christian life, and the Lutheran faith, and assists her
pastor in training these teachers. She is also involved in writing
scripts for clay animation films focusing on Jesus’ Parables.
The youth minister admits that when she earned an M.A.
in Theological Studies at Evangelical Theological Seminary
in Cairo, she had no intention of working with children.
She wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in Old Testament and then
to teach adults. “I didn’t ever imagine that I can work with
children.” She now believes she can do much work “prepar-
ing believers who can be witnesses wherever they go.”
Not long ago, Niveen turned down a full scholarship in
the U.S. for a Ph.D. in Old Testament, opting instead for
a D.Min. at Gordon-Conwell that enables her to continue
working with the young people while pursuing her degree.
“Here, I believe my ministry is to plant the seed of faith in
them,” she comments. “When they go out the seed will go
out with them
“...I cannot imagine not having fellowship with Christ.
He is for all the time...I am always showing the children,
the youth, that Jesus is very close. They should open the
door to him. He loves them much more than they imagine.”

Anne B. Doll is Director of Communications at Gordon-Conwell.
8 f al l 07
Whenever President Dr. Haddon W. Robinson and Academ-
ic Dean Dr. Alice P. Mathews preach and teach around the
world, listeners will invariably ask about their daily radio
program Dtscover the WorJ.
The two have been on the air Monday through Friday
for the past 18 years, teaching Bible passages for roughly
2 million listeners in North America and other English-
speaking countries. Produced by RBC Ministries of Grand
Rapids, Michigan, the program originally known as RaJto
Btble Class has aired continuously since 1938.
Contact recently caught up with Haddon and Alice for
a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the studio of this popular

What do you try to accomplish with the program?
Haddon: We try to use a conversational format that re-
sembles a small group Bible study to go through passages of
the Bible and talk about how those passages relate to life.
Alice: It’s expositional Bible study, not topical. That turns
out to have its own set of problems, because when you’re
on a program that lasts for 15 minutes, you have only 11
and a half minutes of actual teaching time. To work exeget-
ically through a passage and keep each program completely
self standing without being able to rely on listeners having
heard the program preceding it is a challenge.
H: The down side is more that we spend a lot of time in a
passage simply because it takes a lot of time to do all we
have to do to explain the passage. Alice and I work on con-
tent and Mart De Haan, the other person on the program,
is the Listener’s Advocate. He raises questions that come to
him as a result of the whole discussion. We have an outline
and sometimes one outline lasts for three or four programs
because questions take us off into directions we hadn’t
anticipated. This gives us a balance between structure and
A: It is genuine conversation at all times. At the same time,
we have identified before each program what we want the
listener to carry away from it...but we know that it’s Mart’s
job to derail us and he does that with great skill!
Broadcasting Bible Teaching and Laughter 5 Days a Week
9 f al l 07
Do you have some merry times in the studio?
A: Oh, yes. There have been times when we’ve been laugh-
ing so hard we’ve had to stop and start over. There have
been times when Mart has raised an issue and we’ve looked
at each other and just shrugged our shoulders. We had no
idea where to go with that.
Was it hard to adjust to being spontaneous?
A: In the beginning, it was very difficult because this was
a new way of doing expositional Bible teaching and it was
much stiffer and a bit more scripted. Over time, as we all
felt more comfortable, that has changed. In the early days,
Haddon would stop the program in the middle and say,
‘You’re not listening.’ We’d have to start over.
H: We discovered that you have to listen to one another.
You can’t have in your head something you would like to
say if the conversation goes on and you insert it. So you
really have to listen. It’s a major ingredient.
On the program, you sound like you’re having a good time.
A: We love it when listeners write in and say to us, ‘It
sounds like you’re good friends,’ or ‘as if you enjoy one an-
other.’ They comment often on the laughter on the program
and how much they enjoy that. We do have a story about a
H: ...He was a limousine driver in New York and he’d drive
people to parties and then he’d sit in the car and wait. Late
at night, about 1 o’clock in the morning, he said he was try-
ing to find something to listen to and he got the laughter. It
stopped him and then he began to listen to the conversation.
And he found himself listening every night, and as a result
of that, he came to faith in Christ. When I was out in Cali-
fornia preaching at Biola University, he drove to the service
in order to see the people he had been listening to.
What are the logistics of producing the program?
A: Generally we go to Grand Rapids, MI, for one week and
try to tape between 10 and 12 programs a day for five days,
so we produce 50 to 60 programs in one week...
H: ...If we get 10 programs in a day, we know we’ve done a
good job
A: In the old days we were really pushing hard because
a program that requires 260 programs a year is a hungry
animal...At times we got in as many as 16 programs in a
single day. And also in the early years, we were going more
often to Grand Rapids. One year we went nine different
times; another year, seven times. But now we go four times
a year...
H: ...Sometimes 5. We’re now about a year ahead.
How many Scriptures are you able to cover?
H: We spent three years on the Parables, and we’ve spent
nearly two years on Hebrews 11. We’re just finishing the
taping on Hebrews 11.
How much preparation do you have to do?
A: A lot. You can’t go there without having everything
worked out ahead of time...
H:...At least understand what the book is about.
A: Haddon and I usually divide up the research responsi-
bility, so if we were going through Hebrews 11, he would
take some verses, I would take the next chunk of verses and
he’d take the ones after that, and we would each come back
with our research and how we saw the flow of thought for
the development of programs. Then we actually develop a
complete outline of each program
H: We come together to do that.
What is the genesis of RBC Ministries?
H: The man who founded it was M.R. De Haan. Some of
the older folks remember him. Richard De Haan, his son,
followed him. Mart DeHaan is the grandson.
A: M.R. De Haan was a medical doctor who left his prac-
tice to begin Calvary Church in Grand Rapids. I have a
personal interest in this. My family moved to Detroit when I
was five, and my father came to faith in Christ about a year
later. There was a man in the men’s Sunday School who
invited my dad to a Bible study in his home that was being
taught by a medical doctor from Grand Rapids. My dad
started attending the Bible study, and the men in the class
decided that this teacher was so good that they would col-
lect money to get him on the local radio station. The Radio
Bible Class actually started in that Bible study. My father
died shortly after we started on the program. I’m not sure
he even really knew we were working on it.
H: He does know now.
A: Yes. He does know.
In addition to their current responsibilities, Dr. Robinson serves
as the Harold John Ockenga Professor of Preaching at Gordon-
Conwell. Dr. Mathews is the Lois W. Bennett Distinguished Emer-
ita Professor of Educational Ministries and Women’s Ministries.
Broadcasting Bible Teaching and Laughter 5 Days a Week
10 f al l 07
again—had not crossed Dr. Haddon W.
Robinson’s mind when the Gordon-Conwell
Board of Trustees tapped him in May to serve
as President.
He had already served for 12 years as
President of Denver Seminary before joining
the Gordon-Conwell faculty in 1991 as the
Harold John Ockenga Distinguished Profes-
sor of Preaching.
“I was totally taken by surprise,” he com-
ments on the Board’s unexpected request,
adding that his wife, Bonnie, “was in a bit
of a shock.”
But Haddon and Bonnie are praying people
committed to following God’s call. “When
we became Christ followers,” he later told his
daughter, Vicki Hetzges, “we put ourselves at
his disposal.”
His first official act as President was to
gather the entire seminary community togeth-
er for an extended time of prayer. “We need
the prayers of the people,” he says. “Without
God’s presence, the whole theological enter-
prise is folly. ‘Apart from me,’ Jesus said,
‘you can do nothing’” (John 15:5).

Dr. Robinson has frequently held leader-
ship positions during his distinguished career,
including General Director of the Christian
Medical and Dental Associations, an organi-
zation of 17,000 health care professionals;
Director of the Dallas Youth for Christ;
and Associate Pastor of the First Baptist
Church in Medford, Oregon. He also taught
homiletics at Dallas Theological Seminary
for 19 years. At Gordon-Conwell, he has
worn the additional hat of Senior Director
for the seminary’s burgeoning Doctor of
Ministry program.
Widely regarded as an expert in the area
of preaching, he was named in 2006 among
Christianity Today International’s Top 25
Most Influential Preachers from 1956 to 2006,
and in an earlier Baylor University poll, as one
of the 12 most effective preachers in the Eng-
lish-speaking world.
Dr. Robinson has also worked exten-
sively in radio and television media, includ-
ing former host for the television program
Itlm Iesttval, and current lead teacher for
Dtscover the WorJ. a radio program heard
daily by more than 2 million listeners in
North America and other English-speaking
countries. He has served as an editor for the
Theologtcal Annual. as a contributing editor
for Preachtng. and as a fellow and senior
editor for Chrtsttantt· ToJa·. He was presi-
dent of the Evangelical Theological Society
and has served on the executive committee
for that group of evangelical scholars. He
also serves on the boards of EvanTell, Mar-
ketplace Network and Vision New England.
A New Leader for Gordon-Conwell
Becoming a seminary president—
11 f al l 07
A prolific writer, Dr. Rob-
inson has edited the Chrtsttan
MeJtcal Soctet· ]ournal, and
published articles in Chrtsttantt·
ToJa·. Btbltotheca Sacra. MooJ·
Monthl·. the Amertcan Lutheran
Magaztne. LeaJersht[ and Dect-
ston. He writes regularly for
Our Datl· BreaJ, a devotional
that goes to seven million people
each month. He has authored seven books: Psalm ::, Grtef,
Btbltcal Sermons, What ]esus SatJ about Successful Ltvtng,
Dectstons b· the Booh, It´s All tn the Wa· You Tell It, writ-
ten with his son, Torrey; and Btbltcal Preachtng, a text used
by 120 seminaries and Bible colleges worldwide.
Haddon Robinson grew up in a Christian home in the
“Mouse Town” section of Harlem, New York, an area
described by ReaJer´s Dtgest as “the toughest town in the
U.S.” His mother died when he was a boy, and he es-
sentially became “a latchkey kid before that term became
His cousin was a Christian and together they attended a
Presbyterian church in New York City because they wanted
to play basketball. “It was a middle class church and we
were not angels,” he quips. “The first time we went, the
pastor said he didn’t want our kind in his church. But he
preached the Gospel.” Eventu-
ally, an individual who taught
Sunday School took a personal
interest in the two boys.
He was also influenced by his
parents’ high value for educa-
tion, noting, “The way you
got out of Mouse Town was
through education or sports.”
He chose the education path, ul-
timately earning a Th.M. degree
from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M.A. from Southern
Methodist University, and a Ph.D. from the University of
Illinois. He also received honorary doctoral degrees from
Gordon College and McMaster University in Canada.
The new seminary leader has high regard for the
strengths of the institution entrusted to his care, particu-
larly its commitment to Scripture and to a theology based
on the Scriptures. “I believe every faculty member holds to
that, because it’s a soul-orienting commitment,” he says.
“The school has been academically strong and we take
seriously to love God with our hearts and souls, but with
our minds as well.”
One of the challenges of seminary education, he be-
lieves, is that “the world is too much with us. Students
come to us not as blank slates. They come out of a society
that is materialistic and hedonistic. In the three years that
they are here, we want to do everything we can to reori-
ent them to spiritual values and to help them learn how
to walk with God. Otherwise, they are not going to go
anywhere spiritually.”
As President, he sees his role as “bringing the faculty,
staff and students together so that we are indeed one
body,” and putting in place effective systems for the next
President—a John the Baptist of sorts, “preparing the
Reflecting on the needs of theological education, he
views change as essentially a fact of life, necessitating new
delivery systems. “Technology,” he says, “has changed
the way we do education. The students who come to us
tend to read less, but are very aware of technology...
Semlink [the seminary’s distance learning arm] is now
reaching into China.”
He would like to see students
more involved in ministry at the
same time they’re in seminary, a
practice he says that “we do well
at CUME and Charlotte,” but
which presents greater challenges
in residential settings. And he
sees the need for “much greater
emphasis on mentoring. There
are some things that are only learned in close personal inter-
action with other people.”
Dr. Robinson says his greatest joys lie in “the deep
satisfaction that Bonnie and I have been able to do things
in Christ’s service. It is just an example of pure grace.” The
Robinsons also take much joy in their children and grand-
children. Their son, Torrey, is pastor of First Baptist Church
in Tarrytown, New York, and he and his wife, Sue, have
two sons. Their daughter, Vicki, is a motivational speaker
who lives in Dallas.
“Without sounding too much like a preacher, the best
for us is yet to come. To live with hope is something our
non-Christian friends don‘t have. Some of our friends are
living lives of quiet desperation. To have holy optimism is
a great mercy.”
“Without God’s presence, the whole theological enterprise is
folly. ‘Apart from me,’ Jesus said, ‘you can do nothing’”(John 15:5).
All-campus prayer in Chapel.
12 f al l 07
Why Do We
William David Spencer, Th.D.
& Aída Besançon Spencer, Ph.D.
Photo Credit: Max Waugh
13 f al l 07
Jeff Mladenik was a very busy Christian man. Jeff
was serving as Associate Pastor at Christ Church of Oak
Brook, Illinois, out in the heartland. At the same time, he
worked for a publishing company. As one friend put it, Jeff
had a “spiritual sensitivity to the spiritual needs of people
in the marketplace,” so he had a “workplace ministry” in
publishing. He also had a wife, Suzanne, and four children,
so a little extra income helped out!
At a Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
clergy meeting, Jeff had asked for prayers for his schedule
and his travel arrangements. He was nipping up to Boston
on business for his publisher. On a Tuesday morning he
caught a flight out of Boston to go back home. Jeff’s flight
was American Airlines flight #11.
Now, in New York that very morning at 8:48 a.m. on
the 83rd floor of the World Trade Center, Fred Eichler
from Marblehead, Massachusetts, was closing out the
books of a bellied-up insurance company. Suddenly, he
heard a roar. He looked out the window and saw the
plane Jeff was in racing right at him! He told reporters, “It
seemed to be headed straight at me, but it veered upward
and crashed into the building maybe 50 feet above us....
I was staring right into the cockpit and my thought was it
was a plane from Kennedy Airport that had run into prob-
lems. When I saw it veer upward, I thought it was going
to miss the building...But then the building rocked” (North
Shore SunJa·).
Fred ran to the hallway. But flames forced him back.
Then the sprinkler system went on, dousing the fire from
the exploding plane and the falling debris. As the flames
were doused, Fred and his co-workers began to pick their
way down the stairs. Jeff and everyone else on the plane
were already engulfed by flames and killed by the impact.
There was nothing but death above Fred. Suddenly, the
electrical system failed and the sprinklers went off. Then a
fireman bounded up the stairs and showed Fred a second
stairway free of flames on the other side of the building.
“That was a blessing!” he told reporters.
Switching to yet a third staircase, he continued stum-
bling down the stairs, pitch black and treacherously awash
with water. Finally, he crawled out of a low window—
about an hour and a half after he saw Jeff’s plane and just
under an hour after he was able to fight through the flames
and start his escape. As soon as he was out of the building
he saw a co-worker with a cell phone and asked to borrow
it to call his wife. “Get away! Get away!” his wife screamed
into the phone. “Run! Run!” She knew the second tower
had already collapsed. Fred ran. Seconds later, at 10:29
a.m., the first tower came crashing down.
Why did Jeff die and Fred survive? “I still don’t know,”
said Fred. “A miracle. I was on the 83rd floor and the plane
hit 50 feet above us. A miracle.”
That was six years ago. Just a few weeks later on a
Sunday, a world away in Behawalput, Pakistan, a Protestant
congregation of between 50-100 members called the Church
of Pakistan had gathered to worship in a guest slot at St.
Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church. Muslim police stood
guard outside. The minister began to announce the hymn.
Suddenly, six terrorists roared up on motorcycles. Gunning
down the Muslim police, they opened fire on the congrega-
tion, killing men, women and three children as they tried
to hide under the pews. One whole family—father, mother
and children—were slaughtered. Families huddled together,
hugged each other, as these merciless men shot them to
Within five minutes the murderers were gone, leaving 16
dead, two dying and others wounded, according to a report
in the Boston Globe. But, according to Tamran Inayat, a
Pakistan Christian, 25 were soon dead (between a quarter
and half of the congregation). Think about losing one half of
one’s small congregation! Moments later the Roman Catho-
lics arrived. The priest, a Dominican monk from Boston,
realized the attack was probably meant for his 500-member
congregation, which usually met at this time. The schedule
change had been made one week earlier.
The Roman Catholics lived; the Protestants died. So much
mystery surrounds the question of life and death. Why are
some people spared while others die? This is what James’
mother must have asked herself and God when she was
grieving during everyone else’s celebration, for we read in
Acts 12:1-7:
“King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged
to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed
with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he
proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival
of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him
in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to
guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the
Passover. While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed
fervently to God for him. The very night before Herod was
going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was
sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the
door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel
of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped
Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’
And the chains fell off his wrists” (NRSV). Peter was free.
Why was Peter set free by an angel and not James? Why did
James die and Peter live? Whether back in Bible times, a world
away on the mission field, or right here in New York, the same
question keeps coming up! And, whether you were a deacon
seeking to comfort Mary, James’ Mom, or a missionary holding
on to the Pakistani families as they wailed on your shoulder, or
a pastoral counselor trying to reach out to the numbed survivors
huddled in shelters near the smoking rubble of the Twin Towers,
you faced the same identical nagging question: Why do we suffer?
The Bible provides four categorical reasons to explain suffering:
14 f al l 07
As believers we cannot escape the persecution and hardship that are inher-
ent in identifying with Christ, but we can use them to glorify God.
1. We live in a fallen world whose order is disrupted by
evil. Since the fall into sin of humanity, people have been
suffering. The curse describes our plight in Genesis 3:14-19.
We suffer in our disjuncture from the natural world, within
our relations with other humans, in our estrangement from
God. All of us would like to be freed of all these ramifica-
tions of the curse, especially when we become Christians. We
would love to be assured that catastrophes happen only to
the unbelievers next door, but not to our airplanes, our office
buildings, our health, our children. We want not so much a
covenant with God, as a contract with heaven, as described
in these words: “The way of Heaven is to bless the good and
make the bad miserable;” “Good and evil do not wrongly
befall people, but Heaven sends down misery or happiness
according to their conduct.” But these comforting words are
from Ch’êng Tang, the Duke of Kau and I Yin in the Shu
Ktng, the ancient book of Confucian wisdom. It’s not Chris-
tian thought. Instead, the Bible explains to us in Psalm 34:19:
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” We can expect
trouble in a fallen world.
We’d also like to think that all disaster and disease is
God’s way of teaching us something and, if we just puzzle it
out and learn our lesson, our problems will abate. But, when
evil invaded the world, it interrupted logic. Evil makes no
sense. It’s the antithesis of sense. It destroys life; it does not
affirm it. When Peter was freed, Herod blamed the guards
who had been guarding Peter. A fallen world allows violent
leaders like Herod to kill innocent guards for something they
did not do (Acts 12:1, 16, 19).
That’s why Jesus had to come and bring life—and that
more abundantly! (John 10:10). In fact, God took sin and
evil’s disruption so seriously that God had to come in Jesus
and die to overcome it and bring restoration. The effect of
what Jesus explained in John 15:20 is that if evil nailed him
to a cross, we can expect it to drop a bomb on us. And this
takes us to our second biblical reason for suffering.
2. We live in a punishing world where sin is corrected.
This is the best known of the Bible’s reasons. When Herod
did not stop the crowd from shouting, “The voice of a god,
and not of a mortal!” after a particularly impressive speech,
God punished Herod for his blasphemy by a fatal disease
(Acts 12:21-23). Sometimes we do receive consequences for
our sins, and sometimes suffering does refine our sinful
natures like a cauterizing fire (Mal. 3:3). How nice a life it
would be if every one of our problems was caused by sin.
We could just confess our sins and pray for one another so
we’d all be healed (James 5:16). But while some suffering is
caused by punishment for sin, not all of it is.
3. We live in a persecuting world which opposes God’s
people. Herod persecuted James and Peter for the cause
of Christ (Acts 12:2-3). In Quran 47, Islamic literalists are
commanded not only to behead Christians but also to “bind
them in bonds” and “exact a ransom.” This they are doing
in Northern Africa. When we try to break down the gates of
hell and free its captives, we can expect it to rain down ar-
rows and hot pitch from the walls. Evil retaliates.
4. The final biblical explanation is that we live in a mysteri-
ous world and don’t see the whole picture. This is the les-
son of Job. We see life as if in a poorly made mirror (1 Cor.
13:12), so we can’t always understand exactly what’s going
on. James’ mother must have been asking a similar question in
Acts 12, when Peter was released from prison by angelic inter-
vention, but heaven did not save her own son from execution.
The plight of the early church in Acts parallels to a great
degree that of the church today in Malaysia and Indonesia
where churches are regularly burned and believers beaten.
In North Korea and China, Christians are imprisoned and
tortured so that they will recant their faith. In the Sudan,
Christians are enslaved, ransomed by Christians, then kid-
napped in raids and enslaved again. Stolen Christian children
in Northern Africa are given Muslim names and forced to
reject Jesus in order to get food; otherwise they are starved.
In Columbia, drug cartels target Christian pastors, who are
sometimes the only people not corrupted and courageous
enough to stand up to their tyranny, domination and exploi-
tation of the poor farmers whom they force at gunpoint to
produce drug crops.
Jesus knew all this when he warned those who followed
him to expect hard times. He knew they would be swift in
coming—and they were. In Acts chapters 3-4, Peter and John
were arrested for doing something good: healing a lame man
and teaching the astounded crowd about Jesus. They were
ejected from the temple and thrown into prison. In Acts 5,
the apostles were arrested again, but an angel freed them and
they were back preaching. So far, nobody but Jesus had got-
ten fatally hurt. And then Stephen was attacked in chapter 6.
The fatal stoning of Stephen changed everything. Acts
8:1 tells us a severe persecution broke out and scattered the
church throughout the countryside. But Acts 8:4 tells us that
everywhere the Christians went, they were preaching about
Jesus. Even a soldier named Cornelius became a Christian
when called by God and confronted by these valiant Chris-
tians. Finally, in chapter 12, King Herod decides to kill the
apostles, to snuff out the leaders and destroy the church. He has
15 f al l 07
James and Peter arrested. But, this time around things were
What differences do we note in Acts 12 from the days
of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 6? First, King Herod
was involved, not just the local authorities. Second, a
precedent of killing Jesus’ followers had been set and
was accepted. Third, Herod had heavy public support.
Acts 12:3 tells us “it pleased” the people. Without public
support, Herod might have stopped, but he was cheered
on. Fourth, James was not executed by the people, stoned
with rocks lying around on the ground, the weapon of
an unarmed mob. He was executed officially by sword
wound, a governmental act. Therefore, persecution was
now institutionalized.
How did the Christians respond? Did they stage a mas-
sive terrorist retaliation? Wage a guerilla war, assassinat-
ing and slaughtering like some vigilante militia movement?
Did they arm up like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane
when he attacked the high priest’s servant? Or, did they
swing the other way and apostatize—repudiate Jesus and
abandon following him because things were getting too tough?
No. Acts 12:5 tells us “the church prayed fervently to God for
him.” And God acted.
As in the case of the Roman Catholics and Protestants
in Pakistan, God rescued Peter but let James die. We saw
how God also soon killed Herod for his blasphemy. Fi-
nally, despite Herod’s opposition and all this persecution,
Acts 12:24 tells us: “But the word of God continued to
advance and gain adherents.” The sword cannot kill the
Spirit of Jesus and his church! The church kept on sharing
about Jesus and doing good. And Jesus kept on working
through his people to help and heal.
You see, whether we’re treated badly or we’re treated
well, our orders are to follow Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon
on the Mount: “Love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you,” as we pray for those who are persecuted
(Matt. 5:44).
If like they were, we’re displaced, even if we are driven
there by persecution, we should still work for God’s
kingdom as agents of healing. If our lives are disrupted,
we should keep on steadily like those Acts Christians who
weren’t simply stymied by alarm! They didn’t say, “Gee,
James is dead and Peter’s in the slammer; I guess we
can’t do anything!” Not at all! If only one Christian was
left, she or he would have been busy praying because they
weren’t stymied by asking “why?”. They weren’t stymied
by losing key leaders; they weren’t stymied by fear because
heavy hitter Herod was now involved or because the crowds
were against them, even though they were no doubt terrified.
After all, they were human!
In the same way, we might be terrified. We ourselves
might be scared and stymied, wondering day and night if
the terrorists might strike again. But, like the Acts church,
4 Foundational
Biblical Categories to Explain
1. world of pain
Evil and its accompanying suffering destroy innocent people and
the animals and plants who share this world with humans be-
cause our world has fallen under the power of death and the
prince of lies.
º Avoid or lessen pain and free from shame
º Be present
º Allow expression of pain
º Treat person as a full person
º Recognize mortality
º Draw on spiritual and other resources: God and community
º Promote God’s reign; teach. Proclaim for individual and cor-
porate justice; heal
2. punishment for sin
A person or a nation is culpable for the suffering and pain re-
ceived when that suffering comes in judgment for past wrong
choices (external: God causes; internal: self-inflicted).
º Heed and make warnings; ask for forgiveness of sins
º Avoid wrong moral choices; try to avoid sin
º Identify with sinner
º Care for consequences (see #1)
3. advancement of god’s reign
Suffering may come because we choose to work to further God’s
rule over a wicked and rebellious world (general persecution;
identification with the Messiah; growth from cleansing). In
“growth” God verifies our love and trains us to be more mature
º Identify cause correctly
º Do not avoid this suffering, if necessary to further God’s
º Persevere by drawing on spiritual resources: God and com-
4. mystery
Answering why a specific righteous person may suffer may get
no direct answer from God, but the question will be meaningless
in God’s presence.
º Care for consequences (see #1)
See further William David Spencer and Aída Besançon Spencer, ]o· through the
Ntght: Btbltcal Resources on Suffertng. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1994.
cont’d on page 18
16 f al l 07
After Virginia Tech
Speaking God’s Words in the Midst of Crisis
“After the LORD said
these things to Job, he
said to Eliphaz the Teman-
ite, “I am angry with you
and your two friends, be-
cause you have not spoken
of me what is right, as my
servant Job has.” Job 42:7
Derek Mondeau, M.Div. ‘01
There is nothing more important than speaking what is right of God. Ironically, there is no
more difficult place to speak rightly of God than in the midst of crisis. These thoughts consumed
me as I arrived in Blacksburg only a couple days after the “worst massacre in U.S. history.” Even
though I am on staff with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) at the University of Virginia,
over the last four years I have had the honor of sharing in the ministry of IVCF at Virginia
Tech. Tech was not my “official” campus, but these were my students. When those students and
staff invited me to participate in a worship service on campus, I jumped at the opportunity. They
invited me to mourn with them. It was an honor I could not refuse.
It is important to note that this was one of the first, if not the first, worship service following
the shootings. Students had attended official convocations. They had held prayer vigils. They had
heard from presidents and governors. The media had come and gone. However, these Christian
students had yet to corporately seek God or express themselves in their own language and liturgy.
My greatest fear coming to this service was that our students would not grieve well. And
honestly, who would blame them? How do you process the events of that day? What do you do?
What do you say? I was worried that students would either be incapacitated by emotion or seek
some kind of quick fix to healing. I came to Blacksburg thinking I could help teach these stu-
dents how to grieve. Little did I know that the tables would be turned. I was to be the student.
They were my teachers. So, I want to share some lessons the college students at Virginia Tech
taught me about speaking the words of God in the midst of crisis.
Photo provided by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
17 f al l 07
Wrong Words, And Right Ones
¨WorJs are ueah s·mbols of our feeltngs at ttmes lthe thts.¨
Dr. Charles W. Steger, President of Virginia Tech
Dr. Steger’s statement is true. However, those of you
who watched the convocation on national television know
that he did not stop using words at that moment, but
finished his speech. So, even though the sentiment is true, it
is not true of the one who preaches in the midst of crisis.
It cannot be, not in moments of deep need or pain. Words
have to do the job. Clumsy though they may be, they are
the only symbols we have. In crisis, words give meaning to
our mourning. Words give shape to our anger, our pain, our
hope. Whether we like it or not, words are the symbols of
our grief.
My time at Virginia Tech taught me that the wrong
words are weak symbols in the midst of crisis. We know
wrong words when we hear them. We feel them when they
come tumbling out of our mouths. We wish we could put
them back the moment we speak them. They ring hollow
and false. Wrong words provide a quick fix in the way that
a band-aid is a quick fix for an amputation. They have the
form of healing but lack the substance thereof.
Wrong words are the paper-thin ideas we think people
want to hear. It´s gonna be oha·. Or, Don´t uorr·. Ever·-
thtng utll be alrtght. But here is the problem. Thtngs are not
alrtght. These students may not be all right for years and
years to come. They may never be all right this side of the
Resurrection. Death is a complete perversion of God’s cre-
ated intent. It is the vandalism of shalom. Try as we might,
there is no way to sanitize the Fall of Man. If death wasn’t
really all that bad, God would not have orchestrated all of
redemptive history in order to save us from it. Death should
disturb us at the deepest levels of the tmago Jet. We should
not fear acknowledging the severity of the Fall with our
words. There must be no dodging tragedy nor avoiding it.
We cannot pretend it wasn’t that bad after all. We have to
name and confront evil. It is our duty as preachers, minis-
ters and professors of the Gospel.
When we examine Scripture we find that honest con-
frontation with the evil leads us toward a deeper faith in
God. Consider Job, Jesus, David. These men didn’t arrive
at a place of deep trust in God because someone told them,
¨Trust GoJ. Ever·thtng utll be all rtght.¨ No, they came to
a place of trust because they lived through the tragedy and
the sorrow with God. That process was not sped up nor
slowed down. Deep, abiding faith comes, not by circumvent-
ing the Valley of Sheol, but by stumbling through it with
God. Weak words seek to truncate the grieving process
before God has had His way in us.
My Hokie friends also taught me that the right words
can be strong symbols in times of crisis. I discovered that,
by the Spirit of God, the right words accomplish something
beautiful in us. The right words are gentleness and power.
They are consolation and desolation. They are bitter to
the root. They are sweet as honey. They bend us until we
almost break, then build us back up. The right words bind
up. They inspire. They heal. They show us the narrow road
when we have lost our way. They remind us of who we
really are when we have lost our minds. The right words
reorient us to reality. The right words are words we know
to be true, no matter how painful it is to speak them. They
are words we dread and long for at the same time. The
right words speak the truth, unveiled, about our world and
our God.
Interestingly, the right words I experienced at Virginia
Tech had little to do with what any one person said during
the worship service. It was not about what was said in the
moment. It was about what had been said last week, last
month, last year. It was what their staff had been teaching
them concerning God and the Kingdom all along. These
students knew the Kingdom of God included things like
mourning, brokenness, grief over sin. They knew that life
between the Cross and the Resurrection was marked by
both tragedy and hope. Because these students were con-
cerned with speaking the right words all the time, when
crisis came, as much as one can be, they were prepared for
it. When I say “prepared for it” I do not mean they were
stoic or impervious to the pain. In fact, they still fell apart.
It was right for them to fall apart. There would have been
something wrong with them if they had not. But the right
words never avoid or mitigate the effects of tragedy. The
right words prepare us to meet tragedy head on. To grieve
well. To mourn well. To hope well.
There Are No Words Like God’s Words

The right words can be strong symbols in the midst of
crisis. But words, even the right ones, can only do so much
when spoken by mere mortals. When all other words fail us,
God’s words do something impossible: they bring hope.
About halfway through the service, Andrew Churchill, one
of our students, walked up to a microphone, Bible cracked
open somewhere near the middle. Then he spoke. His voice
was strong, more Spoken Word poetry than Scripture recita-
tion. These were words of a different sort. They weren’t just
right words or wrong words. These were the words of God.
The S[trtt of the Soveretgn LorJ ts on me. because the LorJ
has anotnteJ me to [reach gooJ neus to the [oor. He has
sent me to btnJ u[ the brohenhearteJ. to [roclatm freeJom
for the ca[ttves anJ release from Jarhness for the [rtson-
ers. to [roclatm the ·ear of the LorJ´s favor anJ the Ja· of
juJgment of our GoJ. to comfort all uho mourn. anJ to
18 f al l 07
we need to put James 5:13 into practice. If you are persecuted, be pray-
ing! You see, they expected to be persecuted. They weren’t surprised
by it. And in the same way we should expect persecution and not get
surprised if we’re persecuted in our work, school, community, even our
homes, as well as internationally. Like them, we should continue to serve
God when persecution comes. Of course, we’re not crazy, we don’t seek
it. But we don’t collapse under it either.
And, as for the day to day, remember, Peter and John were busy
healing a lame man. In a similar way we should be engaged in healing
the hurting and rescuing the persecuted by any influence or pressure or
intermediary work we can do to address it. And like the angels who
came to rescue the saints again and again, we can assist refugee families
from every trouble spot. If we ourselves get persecuted, we also need to
accept help from the “angels” God sends us, not being so proud or blind
to heaven’s intercession that we lie there chained to our problems. Let’s
follow the angel out if we get the chance.
Whatever happens, our mission is to advance God’s words and win
new people to Christ, which is itself the most profound form of rescu-
ing captives and setting the prisoners free from the confining gates of
hell. Remember, the Acts church never gave up or gave in! Herod always
knew where to find it. And he always knew what they’d be doing—call-
ing down the power of God to change hearts and lives. And that power
changed the world. It can do so again today!
As believers we cannot escape the persecution and hardship that are
inherent in identifying with Christ, but we can use them to glorify God.
Neither can we escape the sufferings that result from the fallen nature of
the world, but we can use them for God’s glory and be drawn to God
by them. And while we cannot escape the consequences of evil actions of
others, we should not cause unnecessary suffering for ourselves or others
by our own evil actions. Some pain is mysteriously unavoidable, but oth-
er pain is avoidable and we should avoid it and help others avoid it too,
since people cause so much unnecessary suffering. Further, we should
work to alleviate as much suffering as we can as we look forward to the
bright hope of the cessation of all pain in God’s glorious eternal future.
William David Spencer, Th.D., Ranked Adjunct Associate Pro-
fessor of Theology and the Arts, teaches at the Boston campus.
He has done urban, college, music, literacy and prison minis-
tries, and has taught at several other seminaries. Aída Besançon
Spencer, Ph.D. is professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary, and has been a visiting scholar at the Har-
vard Divinity School. She has served as social worker, minister,
and educator in a wide variety of urban settings. The Spencers
have individually written more than 100 journal and magazine ar-
ticles, book reviews and poems, and collaborated on many books,
including 2 Corinthians, Bible Study Commentary (Zondervan,
1989); The Prayer Life of Jesus: Shout of Agony, Revelation of
Love (University Press of America, 1990); and The Goddess Re-
vival (Baker, 1995), co-written with others, and a 1996 Christi-
anity Today Book Award winner. Both are ordained ministers in the Presbyterian
Church (USA) and founders and pastors of Pilgrim Church, Beverly, MA. They are
frequent speakers at churches and conferences.
Books by the Spencers are available in the Gordon-Conwell BookCentre at
888.252.4287 or books@gcts.edu
[rovtJe for those uho grteve tn Zton÷to bestou
on them a croun of beaut· tnsteaJ of ashes. the
otl of glaJness tnsteaJ of mourntng. anJ a gar-
ment of [ratse tnsteaJ of a s[trtt of Jes[atr. The·
utll be calleJ oahs of rtghteousness. a [lanttng of
the LorJ for the Jts[la· of hts s[lenJor. The· utll
rebutlJ the anctent rutns anJ restore the [laces
long JevastateJ, the· utll reneu the rutneJ cam-
[uses that have been JevastateJ for generattons...
Ior I. the LorJ. love justtce, I hate robber· anJ
tntqutt·. In m· fatthfulness I utll reuarJ them
anJ mahe an everlasttng covenant utth them.
Thetr JescenJants utll be hnoun among the na-
ttons anJ thetr offs[rtng among the [eo[les. All
uho see them utll achnouleJge the· are a [eo[le
that the LorJ has blesseJ. Isatah or:r-,
Andrew read voraciously and we joined him.
Each word was a feast. We were famished for
the words of God, words that made some sense
of this madness. Words that expressed what
we could not. And as Andrew read, the room
exploded into sound. Sobbing. Shouting. Wailing.
Exaltation. Anger. Ecstasy. Sorrow. All at once.
It was mourning. It was lament. It was terrifying.
It was beautiful. I have never experienced any-
thing like it. The only thing I could think to do
was take off my shoes. This was holy ground,
consecrated by our suffering, and by the words of
God. Words are powerful symbols of our feelings
in times of crisis. If they are the right words. If
they are God’s words. A group of grieving college
students from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University taught me that. It is a lesson I
will not soon forget.
Thts arttcle ts JeJtcateJ to the stuJents of Inter-
varstt· Chrtsttan Iellousht[ at Vtrgtnta Tech.
anJ thetr IV staff: Wes Barts. Robert Houe anJ
LtnJsa· ]ones. Thanh ·ou for teachtng me hou to
follou Chrtst tn the mtJst of trageJ·. Thanhs for
teachtng uhat tt means to be a Chrtsttan. DM.
Derek Mondeau graduated from Gordon-
Conwell in 2001, and now lives in Charlot-
tesville, VA with his wife, Sue, where they
are both on staff with Intervarsity Christian
Fellowship at the University of Virginia.
Their church home is First Baptist Church,
W. Main Street, a historically black congregation located
in downtown Charlottesville. God has given Derek and
Sue a heart for the renewal of the city and the university.
They hope to love college students with the Gospel of
Christ well into retirement, if the Lord wills.
why do we suffer? cont'd frm page 15
19 f al l 07
Responding to Suicide
Karen E. Mason, Ph.D.
As the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, suicide is
a serious problem. In 2004, almost twice as many individuals died
of suicide as of homicide, and almost two and a half times more
individuals died of suicide than of hiv. Although 32,439 individu-
als in the United States died by suicide in 2004, suicide deaths
are just the tip of the iceberg. The same year, 425,650 non-fatal
self-harm injury cases were reported to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
20 f al l 07
Though white middle age males represent the largest
number of suicides, in other age groups suicide was ranked
as one of the top causes of death. For example, for 10- to
24-year-olds, suicide is the third leading cause of death;
for 25- to 34-year-olds, the second leading cause of death.
Suicide occurs across the age span, in both sexes, and in all
races/ethnicities. And after each suicide, countless survivors
are left to make sense of what happened. In order to ad-
dress this problem, we need to understand more about it.
Suicide is associated with mental health problems. Not
all mental health problems lead to suicide, but suicide often
occurs after a person is already struggling with a mental
health problem. About one in five Americans experiences a
mental health problem in the course of a year. And al-
though it would be preferable that Christians did not suffer
from mental health problems, I have worked with many in
my practice.
In the Bible, we find descriptions of people in deep
distress similar to depression. Psalm 102 is a “prayer of an
afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament
before the Lord.” The psalmist describes aspects of depres-
sion like loss of appetite, insomnia and tears, and addresses
his struggle by aligning his psychological experience with
his spiritual experience of God. God seems to honor that
struggle. It’s important that we learn how to help struggling
people. I remember working with a depressed person who
had requested help from the church elders, but the elders
never responded to the request.
People should find help from church and many do. In a
large national study, 25 percent of people with all types of
mental health problems contacted clergy for help. Suicidal
ideation, plans or attempts were some of the significant
predictors for making contact. Surveys by the National In-
stitute of Mental Health found that clergy were more likely
than psychologists and psychiatrists combined to be asked
for help from a person with a mental health diagnosis. One
of the reasons that clergy have been identified as “front-line
mental health counselors” is that they are “among the most
trusted professionals in society” according to Gallup polls.
We in the church need to be ready to respond to individu-
als who may be suicidal.
After a suicide
Responding to a suicide is difficult in church because
suicide is often not talked about. But that isn’t so in the
Bible. The Bible records several suicides: Abimelech (Judges
9), Samson (Judges 16), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:23), Zimri
(I Kings 16), King Saul (I Samuel 31:4), and Judas Iscariot
(Matthew 27). What stands out in reading these accounts is
that none of the accounts condemns the act of suicide, and
the manner of death isn’t associated with dishonor. Samson
and Ahithophel are buried in the family tomb. Saul and his
sons were honored by a proper burial by the Israelite men
of Jabesh-Gilead. David’s lament for Saul and Jonathan (2
Samuel 1:19-27) passes no condemnation on Saul’s manner
of death.
If the Bible refrains from judgment, why are most Chris-
tians anti-suicide? One reason is that we believe that life
belongs to God. When Job heard that his children died af-
ter their house collapsed, his response was “The Lord gave
and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord
be praised” (Job 1:21). He acknowledged God’s sovereignty
over time of death, and while God is sovereign, we are not.
Christians are also anti-suicide because we believe in the
sanctity of all life. God told Noah that He will demand an
accounting for each life: “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God
has God made man.” We, therefore, do not murder (Exo-
dus 20:13) because life is a sacred gift from God who has
created us in His image. Murder is a sin. However, there is
no indication that the sin of suicide is any worse than any
other sin. It is not in a special category of sin that can’t
be forgiven. When Jesus talked about the “unforgivable
sin,” he did not include suicide. Jesus said, “And so I tell
you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the
blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew
The church can give hope to grieving family members
following a suicide. Suicide does not damn a person to Hell
any more than a lie does, or doubting God’s love right
before my plane crashes. Jesus clarified for Nicodemus that
belief in Jesus is what counts. He tells Nicodemus, “Who-
ever believes in [God’s one and only son] is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and
only Son” (John 3:18). A person’s relationship to Jesus is
what matters. And, based on the absence of any explicit
statements about suicide, it seems that God will deal with
an unconfessed and unforgiven sin like suicide as He does
all other unconfessed and unforgiven sins such as jealousy,
gossip, hatred, envy and sexual impurity.
Responding to questions about suicide as a sin is just
one of the ways to minister to those left behind a suicide.
The psalmist describes aspects of depression like loss of appetite,
insomnia and tears, and addresses his struggle by aligning his
psychological experience with his spiritual experience of God.
21 f al l 07
It is equally important to avoid glamorizing suicide be-
cause some people can be vulnerable to “copy cat” suicide.
Celebrate the person’s life and accomplishments. Share their
struggle with psychological pain and share resources for
those who may also be struggling with their own psycho-
logical pain. For more suggestions, go to the Suicide Preven-
tion Resource Center’s recommendations entitled After a
SutctJe: RecommenJattons for Reltgtous Servtces anJ Other
Publtc Memortal Observances. The website is www.sprc.org.
One more way we need to minister to those left behind
after a suicide is to just be with them non-judgmentally.
Jesus is clear when He says, “Do not judge, or you too will
be judged” (Matthew 7:1). We need to minister to those
grieving, not by trying to give them pat answers but by sit-
ting and grieving with them, with the knowledge that griev-
ing a suicide can take longer and can be more intense than
grieving other deaths. The apostle Paul tells us to “Rejoice
with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn”
(Romans 12:15). It is important to allow the grieving person
time to go through this difficult process. You might even
help them find a suicide grief group when they are ready.
You can find one in your area by going to the American
Foundation for Suicide Prevention at www.afsp.org.
Responding to a suicide crisis
The church is called to minister not only to those left
behind but also to those who are suicidal. The church has
a message of hope for all people, even suicidal people.
The ultimate source of our hope is God’s love for us. The
psalmist reminds us that God is our hope: “Yes, my soul,
find rest in God; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).
We find hope in God because He is the God of hope. “May
the GoJ of ho[e fill you with all joy and peace as you trust
in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power
of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). However, even though
God is a God of hope, some of the great people in the Bible
felt hopeless. Moses tells God, “The burden is too heavy
for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to
death right now” (Numbers 11:15). Job says, “I loathe my
very life” (Job 10:1). Elijah tells God, “I have had enough,
Lord... Take my life” (I Kings 19:4). Jonah said, “It is bet-
ter for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:8).
God ministered to each hopeless person in a different
way. To help Moses, He spoke to him and outlined His
plan to put His Spirit on 70 elders to help Moses shoul-
der his heavy load. He also outlined His plan to send the
people of Israel meat. To Job, He entered into a discus-
sion, listing examples of His sovereign and creative power
to encourage his faith. To help Elijah, He sent an angel
with food and water, and then met with Elijah in a gentle
whisper to give him hope in the 7000 Israelites who had
not served Baal. To help Jonah, He gave him perspec-
tive on the need of the Ninevites, the enemies of Israel, to
receive God’s grace. Though we don’t know about Jonah’s
response, we know that after their meeting with God, these
hopeless men chose to continue to live. Because suicidal
people feel hopeless about managing the pain of life but
are ambivalent about ending their life, Christians and the
church are uniquely positioned to give suicidal people hope.
The psalmist, in Psalm 42:5, tells us that when we are hope-
less, we need to focus on God and what He is to us.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Recognizing risk
Some suicidal people may respond to our efforts to point
them to the God of all hope. And some won’t. Our job at
this point is to recognize when the situation is serious and
take action according to the seriousness of the crisis. Listen
non-judgmentally to the person at risk. Become familiar
with suicide risk factors and warning signs (See sidebar).
But the only way to assess the seriousness of a situation is
to ask the person at risk. As uncomfortable as it is to ask
directly, it is the best way we have to determine risk. It’s
always better to ask directly so that you can get a clear
answer. Also, asking directly can create relief for suicidal
persons who don’t know how to start the conversation.
There is no evidence that asking puts the thought of suicide
in people’s mind. So ash. You could use words like these,
“Sometimes when people are sad, they have thoughts of
suicide. Have you had any suicidal thoughts?”
Low Risk
If suicidal persons have thoughts about suicide but do
not intend to follow through on those thoughts ever, the
risk is low. Continue to monitor the level of risk. If the
suicidal person is a minor, it is usually important to call a
family member. Across the age span, if a supportive fam-
ily member is available, it is usually important to involve
The church is called to minister not only to those left behind
but also to those who are suicidal. The church has a message
of hope for all people, even suicidal people.
22 f al l 07
that individual. And most importantly, connect this person
to mental health services. Because we know that suicidal
thoughts are typically associated with a mental health
problem, it is best to connect the person with a mental
health professional. You can search for Christian counselors
in your area using The American Association of Christian
Counselors’ website or the American Association of Pasto-
ral Counselors website. Some offer a sliding fee scale.
Also, individuals at risk can check mental health benefits
by contacting their health insurance company or the Em-
ployee Assistance Program at work and requesting a list of
nearby providers. If insurance does not cover mental health
services, advise them to contact their primary care physician
about providers, or search online for your county’s com-
munity mental health center. Most counties in the United
States have such mental health centers which offer services
on a sliding fee scale. The important task is to find some-
one that suicidal persons can work with and can afford so
that the· utll go.
Moderate Risk
If suicidal persons have suicidal thoughts and intend
to follow through on them at some point but not today
(perhaps because they don’t have a plan or don’t have the
means to follow through on their plan), the risk is moder-
ate. Ensure that they have followed up on mental health
treatment with a professional. Also, monitor the risk
actively. Continue to ash individuals if they have developed
a plan or acquired the means to carry out the plan. It’s im-
portant to monitor in an ongoing way because it only takes
a few minutes to make a very permanent decision. Assure
them that at any time they can call the National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline phone number: 1.800.273.TALK (8255).
Another very important intervention is to restrict access
to whatever means they may be contemplating using. For
example, take a gun to the local police department, which
is sometimes willing to keep a gun for a citizen at risk.
Flush pills down the toilet or have their doctor give them
one-week or one-day prescriptions.
High Risk
Unfortunately, sometimes the risk is high. Persons have
thoughts of suicide, intend to follow through on them, and
have a plan and the means to follow through. Or it may
be that they have already followed through and taken steps
to die, such as taking pills. In these situations, the risk is
very high and it is important to stay with these individuals
and get help tmmeJtatel·. At this point, counseling is not the
goal. Just get them connected to emergency services. Usually
this means taking a suicidal person to the emergency room or
calling 911. For example, if someone calls you and tells you that
he or she just swallowed pills, keep talking to the person on the
phone but call 911 on another phone and get help immediately.
If you are geographically removed from the suicidal person,
and unable to reach the individual by phone, you can also call
the police in the person’s area and ask them to perform a “wel-
fare check” at his or her home.
If you yourself are suicidal, immediately call 911 or the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You can call this number for yourself or for someone who may
be suicidal.
Idle threats
One common concern with helping suicidal individuals is
that some people threaten suicide just to get attention. Even if
previous threats have been idle, it is always best to take every
threat seriously. Let suicidal persons know that you will take the
threat seriously and that you will connect them with emergency
Responding to an attempt
The church is also called upon to respond following a suicide
attempt. One of the most important pieces of knowledge you
need at this time is that the best predictor of a later suicide is
a previous attempt. So make sure that the person gets mental
health care. You can also look up a helpful brochure developed
by The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for people who
have attempted suicide. The brochure can be found on the
Suicide Prevention Resource Center website at http://www.sprc.
org/library/consumer_guide2.pdf. The brochure is called SutctJe:
Tahtng Care of Yourself After an Attem[t÷Movtng AheaJ
After Your Treatment tn the Emergenc· De[artment.
Responding to suicide requires taking action. It also requires
having a clear and solid foundation of hope. The church is
uniquely positioned with a message of hope for suicidal people
and the people left behind following a suicide. I remember
working with a very suicidal woman whose main concern
was who was in control of the history of the world and her
history in particular. Another very suicidal woman could
not love herself because of a horrendous history of abuse.
She desperately needed a personal knowledge of who she
was, created and loved by God. These women needed hope,
hope that their current struggles would not be their strug-
gles tomorrow. Hope believes that what isn’t true today
Responding to suicide requires taking action.
It also requires having a clear and solid foundation of hope.
23 f al l 07
may be true tomorrow. During a time of enormous
disappointment, Jeremiah penned these words of hope:
Lamentations 3:20-26
20 my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call
to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the
LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his com-
passions never fail. 23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The
LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait qui-
etly for the salvation of the LORD.
Many suicidal people have lost all hope in God. When
telling them about the God of all Hope fails to bring
them hope, pray for them. Pray for the people who have
lost hope. Pray that they would regain the hope that only
God can give. AnJ tahe actton to hee[ them safe.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for
Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query
and Reporting System (WISQARS) {online}, 2007.
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Mental Health:
A Report of the Surgeon General” (Rockville, MD: U.S. Depart-
ment of Health and Human Services, 1999).
3 Wang, P.S., Berglund, P.A., & Kessler, R.C, “Patterns and corre-
lates of contacting clergy for mental disorders in the United States,”
Health Servtces Research, 38(2), 647-673, 2003.
4 Weaver, A.J., Flannelly, K.J., Flannelly, L.T., & Oppenheimer,
J.E., “Collaboration between clergy and mental health profession-
als: a review of professional health care journals from 1980 through
1999,” Counseltng anJ Values. 47, 162-171, 2003.
5 Moran, M., Flannelly, K.J., Weaver, A.J., Overvold, J.A., Hess,
W., & Wilson, J.C., “A study of pastoral care, referral, and consul-
tation practices among clergy in four settings in the New York City
area,” Pastoral Ps·cholog·, 53(3), 255-266, p. 256, 2005.
Some Resources
Carr, G. L., & Carr, G., Iterce GooJb·e: Ltvtng tn the ShaJou of
SutctJe (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 2004)
Clark, D.C., Clerg· Res[onse to SutctJal Persons anJ thetr Iamtl·
Members (Chicago: Exploration Press, 1993)
Karen E. Mason, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of
Pastoral Counseling, has taught and practiced
psychology for over a decade. In addition to
teaching, Dr. Mason has practiced in com-
munity mental health and managed suicide
prevention activities at the state level. She is
a member of the American Psychological Association. Dr.
Mason holds an M.A. degree in Old Testament from Denver
Seminary, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Counseling Psychol-
ogy from the University of Denver.
Suicide Risk
Previous suicide attempt
Mental health problem like depression
Loss (illness, divorce, death, perceived failure)
Someone close to the person has died by suicide
Suicide Warning Signs
Signs of depression like sadness or neglecting hygiene
Loss of sleep or excessive sleep
Loss of appetite or overeating
Sense of hopelessness or worthlessness
Noticeable change in behavior
Alcohol or drug abuse
Decline in performance at work or school
Reckless behavior
Giving away favorite possessions
Purchase of gun or hording pills
Sudden happiness after prolonged depression
Preoccupation with death and dying
Social isolation or withdrawal from family and friends
Statements like “you won’t have to worry about me anymore”
Threats of suicide or talking about death
What to do
Take suicide threats seriously
Listen non-judgmentally
Stay with the person and get them connected to help
Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
1.800.273.TALK (8255)
What not to do
Do not keep suicide threats a secret
Do not condemn
Do not tell persons they shouldn’t feel the way they do
Do not try to be a counselor—get professional help
Do not interject your own problems or feelings
Do not suggest drugs or alcohol as a solution
Do not leave the person alone
24 f al l 07
A crisis is a turning point. In medical terms, it is that moment when a serious illness can lead to death or
back to health and vigor. Or a crisis can be “a dramatic or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.”

Motivational speakers like to point out that the two Chinese characters for the word crtsts are Wet ]t

meaning Jangerous o[[ortuntt·. A crisis is a fork in the road of our lives, a moment of decision when we
choose one path, one direction to pursue over another. But this is not merely a choice between two benign op-
tions. There is real danger in choosing the wrong option at the same time that there can be great benefit in seiz-
ing the opportunity the crisis presents. But that opportunity comes in a time of dramatic upheaval in our lives.
Ministering to Women in Crisis
Alice P. Mathews, Ph.D.
25 f al l 07
While these upheavals come to both men and women,
they don’t always affect them in identical ways. A broken
relationship can be more catastrophic for a woman than for a
man because many women see their central identity being tied
to their ability to make and maintain relationships. On the
other hand, a broken relationship can lead a man to isolate
himself from future relationships whereas many women seek
the comfort and support of female friendships at such a time.
Of course, not all men or all women behave in identical ways,
and we must be careful about gender generalizations.
What are some of the “dramatic or circumstantial upheav-
als” that create crises in our lives? For women in particular
these crises often arise from losses that make change neces-
sary. Upheavals leading us to a crisis or a turning point in
our lives can include the loss of some part of our physical
health, the loss of important relationships, the loss of in-
nocence through sexual abuse or domestic violence, the loss
of a job, the loss of community through a move to a distant
place, the loss of our youth, the loss of the respect of others,
even the loss of meaning in our daily lives.
Obviously, the loss of our youth is not on a par with the
loss of a spouse through death or divorce or the loss of our
physical mobility. But facing the advancing years can bring
a turning point in our lives, a point at which we decide
between society’s celebration of youth as the “true” story of
who we are, and God’s gift of increasing richness and added
meaning as we age.
What is a crisis for one person may be a minor blip for
someone else. Not everyone finds life turned upside-down by
the same kind of upheaval. But without judging the “validity”
of someone’s crisis, we as followers of Jesus Christ are called
to come alongside those who suffer. How are we to do that?
Here are four ways in which we can minister to them.
People in crisis want to know that someone understands
what they are going through. So we minister to people in crisis
first by listening to them. This doesn’t mean that we simply let
them vent. Nor are we “listening” if we jump in quickly with
a solution or a Scripture verse that should give comfort. Lis-
tening is not rebutting what the person in crisis is saying, nor
is it “mind-reading” what we suspect the sufferer is thinking.
Good listening helps the person in crisis feel understood, and
this can take time. The first step is to listen without substitut-
ing our own ideas about the person’s upheaval.
The second way we minister to people in crisis is to help
them begin to think differently about the crisis so that they
can choose the right road well. How we think determines
how we act and feel. We tend to think that we cannot change
our minds until our circumstances change. But all deep change
in how we live begins with changed minds. The biblical meta-
nota is a ruthless dismantling of old ways of seeing and think-
ing, followed by a diligent building of new ways of thinking.
First our minds are renewed; then everything is different even
though circumstances may stay the same.
The third way we minister to people in crisis is to help
them evaluate their circumstances: can these be changed? If
so, a good decision may be to change them. If they cannot
be changed, then how can we change the way we think or
value these circumstances? My husband and I could not
change the circumstance that took the life of our only son at
the hands of a drunk driver, but in the midst of our grief we
could change the value we placed on this mortal life in the
light of God’s promise of eternal life in his presence.
Fourth, we bathe our ministry efforts in prayer. Without
God’s work for and in the person in crisis, our ministry may
fail. So we pray—for the person in crisis, for our own under-
standing of the need, and for others who may be implicated
in the crisis. As we pray, we hold two truths together: first,
we know that we live in a sinful world in which innocent
people suffer and bad people get away with bad things. But
second, we also know that God has taken major steps to
redeem this world and that ultimately God will triumph and
all will be changed.
The Scriptures tell us what God wills for this world. The
world shows us that it is not only out of sync with God’s
purposes, but actively resists God. When we pray, we stand
between the two, enabling a sufferer to look the crisis in the
face and say, “By God’s grace I can manage this because I
know that a time is coming when God will triumph and this
pain will pass away.”
A crisis is a dangerous opportunity. It is a turning point.
It also provides an opportunity for new growth. We minister
to people in crisis when we build a bridge for them to God
who can work through the fog of their pain.
Alice Mathews, Ph.D., is Academic Dean of the South
Hamilton campus and the Lois W. Bennett Professor
Emerita of Educational Ministries and Women’s Ministries.
In addition to teaching at Gordon-Conwell, she has served
as Dean of the Philadelphia Center of the Seminary of the
East, and for more than a decade at Denver Seminary where she estab-
lished a comprehensive program for women’s studies. She is heard daily
on the radio program Discover the Word; ministers at women’s retreats,
conferences and in churches worldwide; lectures in other academic set-
tings; and is the author of five books.
1. Dictionary.com.unabridged (v. 1.1).
Good listening helps the person in crisis feel understood, and this can take time. The
first step is to listen without substituting our own ideas about the person’s upheaval.
26 f al l 07
One of the countries hit hardest that Sunday morning
was the island nation of Sri Lanka. By 2004, I had been to
Sri Lanka three or four times and had developed numerous
friendships with church leaders. With one particular pastor
and his family, I had grown especially close. I sent off an
email as quickly as I could access the internet, but received
no reply for several days. I considered abandoning my
teaching to travel to Sri Lanka to see if I could be of help,
but reckoned I would likely prove more burden than bless-
ing were I there. So, with my family and the students I was
teaching, I spent the week watching, waiting and praying.
About eight months later, my family and I were in Sri
Lanka. We witnessed some of the rebuilding efforts being
spearheaded by the ministry of our friends, and visited some
of the devastated areas. In one tiny, beach-side home, a
woman stood in front of four photographs hanging on the
concrete wall—pictures of her husband and three children—
all swept away in an instant.
Not far from that site, we saw the wreckage of a pas-
senger train that was jammed full with people that morning.
The twisted remains of the railroad cars and tracks testified
to the hundreds who died there. Church leaders estimate,
beyond the official reports, that perhaps 100,000 people had
lost their lives in Sri Lanka in a matter of minutes.
Church leaders mobilized to help wherever and however
they could. Though representing only a tiny minority in
this predominantly Buddhist country, they did not hesitate
to serve their neighbors. God has used the love they have
shown to turn many hearts toward Christ. We heard stories
of church buildings that were miraculously spared from the
singing in the night

Gary A. Parrett, Ed.D.
It was the day after Christmas in 2004, and my family and I had just entered our
guest house at a Christian university in Korea where I was to begin a week of teach-
ing on the following morning. After settling in a bit, we switched on the television
to discover that a devastating tsunami had struck in South Asia. For the next several
hours, we watched with a mixed sense of horror and helplessness.

27 f al l 07
tsunami—the only buildings left standing in their communi-
ties. The persecuted had now become the lifeline in their
neighborhoods. But we also heard of entire congregations
that had been swept away, even as they had gathered to wor-
ship the Lord.
As eager as they were to serve their neighbors, the saints
of God knew that they needed to gather to call upon the
Lord. They did so throughout the country, assembling in
special memorial services for prayer and worship. “When
we gathered,” my pastor friend told me, “we came to realize
that we needed songs of lament to sing. But we knew none.”
In the weeks that followed, some new songs were written
that were suitable to the devastation that had fallen upon the
land (a tragedy, it should be noted, that was piled on top of
25 years of civil war and multiple other hardships that were,
and still are, daily fare for the citizens of Sri Lanka).
* * * * *
I teach often on the subject of congregational worship.
One trend that I regularly protest is the now common
identification of the word “worship” with singing, and its
logical counterpart—identifying the song leader as the “wor-
ship leader.” These represent a serious diminishing of the
biblical concept of worship—our whole life surrender to the
God of all mercies (Rom. 12:1). And congregational wor-
ship—those gatherings of the saints for intentional times
of worship—surely involves all the elements that mark our
times together, not just the singing. The proposal I often
hear in response is to call the song leader the “praise leader”
instead. But this will not do either, I respond. For our songs
should not all be songs of praise. We need, as well, songs
of confession, songs of instruction, songs of lament and
more. After all, there is much, so very much in our world,
that calls for lament. But like our brothers and sisters in Sri
Lanka, we in North America may often find ourselves with-
out proper resources in this regard.
Especially, it seems to me, we in the evangelical world
know little about lament. We much prefer the happy sayings
and the happy songs. We like things to be tied up nicely and
neatly. We prefer our theology to be bite-sized; slogans that
fit easily on a tee shirt or a bumper sticker are best. We par-
ticularly dislike any display of discouragement or depression
on a Sunday morning. Each Lord’s Day, we ask the hurting
among us to “pull themselves together” and rise with us to
sing “songs of faith” in praise to the Lord. We muzzle the
mouths of the downcast. After all, we reason, we are called
to “rejoice always” and to praise the Lord at all times.
But Scripture tells us not only to “rejoice with those who
rejoice.” It tells us also to “weep with those weep.” Most
evangelicals, at least in our congregational worship gather-
ings, seem to know very little about how to do the latter.
How wise we would be to return to the hymnal of the
saints who have gone before us, from biblical times and
through the Christian centuries: the Psalter. I do not argue
that the Psalms ought to be our only songs for congrega-
tional worship (though there have always been Christians
who argued thus). But I believe the Psalms provide a trea-
sure trove of rich resources for our worship in song. There
we find the full range of human emotions—all offered as
prayer and worship to God. Attending to the Psalter to give
shape to our singing, we would find ourselves singing in
all sorts of “keys,” and often in “minor” tones. Our songs
would run the spectrum—from praise and thanksgiving, to
deep contemplation, to confession of sin, to desperate cries
for mercy, to battle songs for spiritual warfare, to deep sighs
and cries of lament.
Consider, for example, what is affirmed by nearly all to be
the “darkest” of the Psalms. Psalm 88 begins with a barely
smoldering wick, and it’s all downhill from there. To many
evangelicals, the psalm would seem nearly unsingable for
a person of faith. One commentator I read stated that, in
light of the resurrection of Christ, Psalm 88 represents a
“theological impossibility” for the Christian! Certainly it
seems difficult to add our “Amen” to its conclusion. Yet this
song is, according to our faith confessions, a Holy Spirit
inspired prayer for those seasons of the soul when all seems
lost. And, as difficult and discouraged as its language is, the
entire psalm is addressed to the “Lord God of my salva-
tion.” On any given Sunday, I submit, there are folks in our
gatherings who feel something like the psalmist did as he
penned these desperate pleas. But we, in our day, typically
give no voice to the cries of their hearts. Just as significant,
on any given Sunday there is pain all over our world, pain
We need, as well, songs of confession, songs of instruction, songs of lament and
more. After all, there is much, so very much in our world, that calls for lament.
28 f al l 07
that we should duly note, and even join ourselves to, rather
than simply ignore or wish away.
It is notable that Jesus, during the days of his earthly
sojourn, prayed the Psalms. We know that he did so on the
cross (see Ps. 22:1; 16; 31:6; 69:22). We know also that, “in
the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplica-
tions with loud cries and tears” (Heb. 5:7). Not surprisingly,
then, we learn that Psalm 88 has at times in the history of
the Church been associated with the passion of our Lord on
Good Friday.
A few years ago, when my mother—of blessed memory—
was living out her final earthly days in a courageous battle
with the disease that would take her life, I suddenly found
myself struck anew by Psalm 88. I had been reading the
Psalms for many years on a regular schedule. Why had this
psalm not arrested my attention before? But it certainly did
this time around. Searching through the Scripture indexes of
the four or five hymnals in my office (fairly recent hym-
nals of the evangelical variety), I found none based on this
“dark” psalm. And so it was that I wrote the setting below.
At the end of each stanza, I have added what seems to me
to be a kind of summary question for the verses preceding.
These questions are in italics, to set them off from the text
of the psalm itself. I wrote with the hymn tune “BEACH
SPRING” in mind (it has been used as the tune for “Come
Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy,” and other texts as well).
Please feel free to use the hymn for personal or corporate
worship. It is not “fun” to sing; nor does it feel “uplifting”
to most. But I thank God that, in his infinite mercy, he has
inspired even such songs for particular seasons in our lives,
as appropriate prayers to the God who knows us fully and
through the High Priest who has tasted what we have tasted
and much more.
Gary A. Parrett, Ed.D., serves as Associate Professor
of Educational Ministries and Worship and as Chair of
the Division of the Ministry of the Church at Gordon-
Conwell. Prior to joining the seminary, he taught in the
areas of Youth Ministries and Biblical Studies at Gordon
College. He also has 20 years of experience in pastoral
ministry, serving churches in Boston, New York City, New Jersey, Seattle
and Seoul, Korea. He is a regular speaker at conferences, retreats and
Christian education workshops, has written articles on Christian educa-
tion and worship for publications like Christian Education Journal and
Christianity Today, and is co-author along with Gordon-Conwell faculty
colleague Dr. S. Steven Kang, and Elizabeth Conde-Frazier of the book, A
Many Colored Kingdom. His special areas of study and teaching include
historical and biblical foundations of Christian education, catechesis,
worship, and issues of faith and culture. He has written numerous hymns
and choruses for congregational worship. Professor Parrett received an
M.Div. from Regent College in Vancouver, and an Ed. D. from Columbia
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out night and day
Let my plea now come before you;
turn and hear me as I pray.
For my soul is full of troubles,
and the grave calls to me now.
I am numbered with the dying.
Can I go on? O LorJ. hou?
You have laid me in a low place,
in the regions dark and deep.
Heavy hangs your wrath upon me.
Crashing waves upon me sweep.
Even loved ones, all estranged now,
look upon me with disdain.
I am locked inside this prison.
Wtll I see ltght? O LorJ. uhen?
Daily have I called upon you,
turned to you with outstretched hand.
Will you be praised from the grave, Lord,
from that dark, forgotten land?
But to you, Lord, will I cry out.
Ev’ry morning hear my prayer.
Why have you my soul forsaken?
You have htJJen. O LorJ. uhere?
From my youth I’ve known affliction.
Now behold me—nearly dead.
I have borne your fearsome anger,
spent my days in constant dread.
From all sides your terrors stormed me;
they have slain me—here I lie.
My companions hide in darkness.
I´m abanJoneJ. O LorJ. uh·?
Text: Gary A. Parrett / Tune: BEACH SPRING
o, lord god of my salvation (psalm 88)
29 f al l 07
The Call at 2a.m.
Kenneth L. Swetland, D.Min.
astors tell me that they have never received a call in the
middle of the night that was good news. When the 2 a.m. call
comes, pastors brace themselves for hearing bad news, and are
then relieved when sometimes it’s only a misdialed number or
someone playing a joke.
But, when the call is serious, it’s time to act. Fortunately, it
doesn’t happen all that often for most pastors, although some
say that a younger generation apt to keeping late hours and used
to instant gratification or help available 24/7, are often the ones
making the middle-of-the-night call to their pastor. An older
generation tends to wait until 6 or 7 a.m. unless they are so dev-
astated that they need pastoral care immediately or know their
pastor would want to respond quickly.
Pastors can help educate their parishioners by informing them
(often more than once) that they are available at anytime if there
is a crisis. This kind of availability is part of the call to be a pas-
tor. Not wanting to help when people hurt raises the question of
whether one has a genuine call to pastoral ministry, which at its
biblical base reflects a desire to minister grace and comfort from
a Triune God to people in need. I know a pastor who did not
want to be bothered outside of the 9 to 5 office routine and had
an unlisted phone number at home. It’s not surprising that he did
not last more than a short time at his first church and is not a
pastor today.
30 f al l 07
On an accreditation visit to a seminary in Costa Rica a
few years ago, I was touched with the sign on the practi-
cal ministry department door: “Pastoral Accompaniment.”
That’s what pastors faithful to the biblical model of pastor-
ing do—accompany people when a crisis comes.
So, what do you do when the 2 a.m. call comes and it is
indeed bad news? First, determine whether you need to go
immediately or wait until later. For example, if individuals
calling are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and you
determine in talking with them that they are safe but would
be unable to “hear” what you have to say if you responded
in person, it may be best to affirm your love for them and
concern for their well-being, but firmly advise that it would
be better for them and you if you visited later in the day.
Then keep your word. You can certainly pray with and
for them on the phone. And, when you hang up, hope they
do not call right back. It may be wise to phone a family
member to report what happened and enlist that person’s
help as needed.
Sometimes unstable persons, such as those with Border-
line Personality Disorder or in a manic phase of Bipolar
Disorder, call in the middle of the night, insist on talking at
length and want you to be with them right now. Respond-
ing by going along with their request often does not help
them towards spiritual and emotional health and it can be
intensely frustrating and time-consuming, not to mention
tiring for you. But, not going along with their request often
causes them to become angry and accuse you (often to oth-
ers) of not caring. And, there’s nothing that strikes pain in
a pastor’s heart like the accusation that he or she does not
It is wise, therefore, to have a plan of action in mind for
when emotionally unstable persons call. For example, assure
them of your concern on the phone, pray with them, help
them recognize that they can make it without seeing you im-
mediately and hold to your decision not to get out of bed to
go visit them. You may also need to call a family member
to provide assistance. If a person is suicidal, you need to call
the police and report what has transpired.
Once a woman I had been counseling who had Bor-
derline Personality Disorder called me to say that she had
taken a bottle of pills in order to kill herself. Since she had
agreed to contact me if she was suicidal (“suicide contract”),
she made the call and told me what she had taken. I then
called the Poison Control Center for our region and learned
that she had taken a potentially lethal dosage and needed
immediate hospitalization. My next phone call was to the
police who broke down her door and got her to the hospital
where she was revived (and for several weeks hated me). I
also called an elder in the church to accompany me to the
hospital since I did not want to be alone when I visited her.
This brings up the question of whether to see someone
alone in the middle of the night or take someone with you.
My rule of thumb is that if the person I am going to see is a
woman and is alone, I want someone with me so there is no
appearance of anything improper. The same principle holds
for female pastors visiting male parishioners. If other family
members are going to be present, then going alone may be
the best course of action. Here’s where it’s good to have a
board of elders trained and ready to assist you in a crisis.
Other words of advice:
Make good use of Scripture in responding to people in crisis. Be so
immersed in biblical teaching yourself that reflecting solid biblical
doctrine to people in need flows naturally from your mind. Done
rightly, there’s nothing more powerful than God’s word to bring heal-
ing to hurting people.
Pray honestly and gently for people in their presence. People
expect pastors to pray; we don’t have to force it on them. There are
times when we don’t know what to say, but here is where the Holy
Spirit’s ministry is evident (Rom. 8:26). Don’t shy away from prayer.
Have a system in place where church hospitality (food, prayer,
presence, etc.) kicks in when someone is in crisis. The Bible refers
to Christian community as the Body of Christ for good reason.
We need every part of the body to be spiritually and emotionally
In the case of an abused spouse or children, act immediately. Get
the person/children to a safe place, e.g., a safe home with a family
in your church prepared for such possibilities. (Every region of the
country has a safe place for women and children. Look in the white
pages of your telephone directory under HAWC, Help for Abused
Women and Children. It’s a 24-hour hotline.)
Live within your own appropriate boundaries of being “extra-avail-
able”—a term used by some to refer to the pastor’s always being
on call. If several crises come in a row or you’re experiencing an
especially intense emotional period of expending time and energy
with someone in need, take the necessary time off with full support
and understanding of your elders to recover your own spiritual and
emotional balance.
Keep notes of what happened. These are for your own record and
are your private file; but in this day of easy litigation, being able to
refer to notes is better than a poor memory if you need to substanti-
ate anything.
Commit your way to God. He is the “cure giver.” We are only the
“care givers.”
Kenneth L. Swetland, D.Min., is Professor of Ministry and Campus
Pastoral Counselor at the South Hamilton campus, providing pastoral
care for students and graduates, and served as Academic Dean of
the Hamilton campus from 1992-2002. He has pastored churches
in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, was a chaplain at Penn State
University and for nursing homes in the Cape Ann area of Massa-
chusetts, and has worked as a psychotherapist at Gordon-Conwell
Counseling Center, Health Integration Services in Peabody, MA and
Willowdale Center for Psychological Services in Hamilton. He has
also taught in Eastern Europe, and has an interest in helping Euro-
pean seminaries in their development. Dr. Swetland continues as a
supply speaker for many New England churches.
31 f al l 07
It is commonsense to say that prayer is crucial in Chris-
tian life. Prayer is a must for anyone in ministry. Ministry
without a consistent and deep prayer life will be a mis-
ery. Strangely, however, it is not easy to meet with men
and women of prayer in most Christian circles today. The
rhetoric on prayer or prayer life abounds, but the culture of
prayer seems to be deteriorating. How can we restore the
habit of prayer in Christian life and in ministry?
I personally think that widespread spiritual ignorance
is the main culprit for our laxity in prayer life. The way
we Christians perceive the world has become blurred, and
we do not seem to realize what is going on in the spiritual
domain. So we have to be awakened to the satanic reality
which has deeply permeated the fabric of our earthly lives.
If we look closely into our inner life, we will be surprised
to find that we carry so many ungodly things in our heart
and mind which affect negatively the way we think, speak
and behave. Many of our families are dysfunctional. We
hear stories of violence and conflict in the regional and glob-
al context every day. In essence, we live in a dysfunctional
world, i.e., a fallen world. People are victimized by all kinds
of satanic attacks on every front. Our lives could hardly
be characterized by glory, holiness, power and freedom in
Christ; rather, we are subjected to all forms of satanic bond-
age and oppression: hatred, depression, misunderstanding,
sensuality, pride, fear, worry, diseases, divorce, conflicts,
wars and many others. We are reminded every day that we
exist not in the heavenly reality, but in the satanic reality.
Our life on earth is to be characterized as a good fight
against the presence of this reality. If we really perceive the
satanic reality as the cause of all sorrows (individual, famil-
ial, societal and global) in this fallen world, we may have a
divine anger towards the evil power operating in our midst.
If we really see that our fight is “against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms,” we will be filled with a sense
of God’s mission to “stand against the devil’s schemes”
(Ephesians 6:11). If we see clearly who our adversary is,
then how can we not pray to the almighty God, our heav-
enly father?
We need to pray to fight against ourselves to purify our
heart, and to rescue ourselves from the rules of the flesh.
Our struggle is to grow spiritually to be like Jesus Christ.
Our aim in life is to restore the image of Christ in us. With-
out prayer, this fight against our flesh cannot be won.
We also need to pray to help others be freed from satan-
ic bondage. To function spiritually, pastors should become
prayer warriors, because the nature of their job is spiritual.
Pastors should go into a deep prayer life if they really want
to rescue people from the devil’s schemes in their everyday
lives. Some pastors talk about prayer as the key to church
revival. That is not wrong all together. However, pastors
should not consider prayer merely as a tool for church
growth or a successful, powerful ministry. Pastors should
spend many hours a day in prayer in God’s presence because
they become troubled in their soul to see the pain and to
hear the inner cries of their church members. If pastors are
not troubled in their soul, they are in real trouble!
Let me share a few practical tips to restore our habit of
prayer. First, we need to cultivate the habit of converting all
our thoughts (monologues) into a dialogue with God. We
may have to stop thinking and start talking to/with God in
all circumstances. If we admit that God is here with us and
hears even our meditations, we cannot ignore Him in our
thoughts. At first, we may feel that we are talking to God
without getting any response from Him, but as we continue
talking to/with God, a real dialogue can happen.
Second, we need to cultivate the habit of asking God
whenever we are to make a choice–big or small. God is the
best counselor and it would be most natural for us to ask
the all-knowing God for everything in our daily walk. We
have to practice what’s written in Proverbs 3:5-6a: “Trust
in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own
understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him.” If God
is real in our lives, our dependence on God should also be
Third, we need to cultivate the habit of spending regular
hour(s) every day for private prayer. We know that profes-
sional golfers practice at minimum two to three hours a day
to remain competitive in their games. Unless we maintain a
few hours in prayer daily, our ministry cannot be competi-
tive in the spiritual battleground.

Moonjang Lee, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of World
Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Before joining the seminary in 2006, he served for five
years at Trinity Theological College, Singapore, and three
years at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, as a
Lecturer in Asian Theology. His research areas include
issues related to the interface between the Gospel and
Asian cultures, working out a viable methodology for Christian studies in
the Asian religious milieu, articulating a new approach in the world mis-
sion, and finding a way to utilize the traditional Asian reading method(s)
in the study of the Bible. He holds a Th.M. from Gordon-Conwell, S.T.M.
from Yale University Divinity School and Ph.D. from the University of
Edinburgh. He teaches a course, Practice of Prayer.
Living the Word is a new feature of Contact that offers practical commentary by
Gordon-Conwell faculty on a wide variety of topics. If you have a topic you would like our
professors to address, please email adoll@gcts.edu or call 978.646.4141.
The Practice of Prayer
Moonjang Lee, Ph.D.
32 f al l 07
Gordon-Conwell Trustee Dr. Garth Bolinder has
a lot of energy. “I have a good metabolism,”
he says. “I try to keep in shape by running,
working out and playing some golf, you know,
to delay the inevitable.” Given his numerous
responsibilities, including chairing the Gordon-
Conwell Presidential Search Committee, it’s a
good thing he does.
Dr. Bolinder was born into a Christian home.
“I had the blessing of being raised in a home where my parents
possessed and passed on an authentic faith in Jesus Christ,” he
recalls. After trusting Christ at a young age, he was again blessed
through the nurture of a healthy local church, extended family and
concerned friends.
He graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in history,
and then headed to South Hamilton to attend Gordon-Conwell. Af-
ter two years of study here, he transferred to North Park Theologi-
cal Seminary, the Evangelical Covenant Church’s denominational
seminary in Chicago, to complete his M.Div. Dr. Bolinder returned
to Gordon-Conwell and was awarded the Doctor of Ministry in Dr.
Haddon Robinson’s preaching track in 1999.
However, Dr. Bolinder’s relationship to Gordon-Conwell extends
further than that of an alumnus. He is also related to the late Dr.
Harold Lindsell, an esteemed Gordon-Conwell’s Trustee and first
Chair of the Board. “Harold Lindsell was my uncle,” he notes. “He
and his wife, Marion, were very dear to our family and very influen-
tial in my own spiritual formation. Primarily, through sheer spiritual
example, just by watching their lives, I grew in my walk with Christ.
“Also, his great love for the word of God and great concern for
scholarship in the area of theological education were important.
His deep love for Christ and his humility were profound. Even
though he was an apologist and not afraid to stand his ground, he
also had a deep humility. For example, if you asked my daughters
about their memories of Uncle Harold, they wouldn’t discuss his
books or the stands he took; they would remember the turkey sand-
wiches he made for them, or the games of Go Fish he played with
them. Finally, watching he and Marion work together as a couple in
ministry has been very significant for Dixie and me.”
Upon completion of his M.Div., Dr. Bolinder began 30 years of
pastoral ministry in various Evangelical Covenant (EC) churches
in Michigan, Connecticut, California and Kansas. He recently as-
sumed a new position as Superintendent of the Mid-South Confer-
ence, where he acts in a judicatory role over EC churches in Okla-
homa, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
“In this position, I function as what might be called a bishop,
giving oversight and encouragement to existing and emerging
churches in our region. My four primary areas of responsibility are:
º PasLoraí 0are. I encourace our pasLors, servínc as a pasLor Lo
º DírecLor of 0hurch PíanLínc. we are a vouncer conference, so
while more established conferences would have a full-time person
in that role, that responsibility falls to me. And we take it very seri-
ously. We plant two churches a year, and all of our churches are 15
years old or younger.
º Serve on Lhe 0ouncíí of SuperínLendenLs.
º Serve as Lhe 0E0 of Lhe 0onference, as Lhe head of
In addition to serving on the Gordon-Conwell Board of Trustees
since 2006, Dr. Bolinder is also on the board of Bible Study Fel-
lowship, The Center for Hispanic Theological Education (CHET),
Covenant Ministries of Benevolence and Covenant Retirement
Communities. He has been married to his wife, Dixie, for 37 years
and has two grown daughters and two granddaughters.
Michael Colaneri is Assistant Director of Communications at Gordon-Conwell.
Dr. Garth Bolinder Michael L. Colaneri
The Presidential Search
The Gordon-Conwell Board of Trustees appointed trustee and alum-
nus, Dr. Garth Bolinder, as Chair of a new Presidential Search Com-
mittee. In the following interview, he comments on search activities.
What has the committee been doing so far?
“We spent the summer trying to get some context and history and
discern how we are supposed to function. We want to move on with
things, of course, but also don’t want to be too hasty or premature. The
committee had a meeting with the faculty that was very, very produc-
tive. I also spoke to the faculty at their retreat and that went very well.”
Is there any timetable?
“No. There are those people who would like to get this thing done
right away, and have the search completed tomorrow. Then there
are those who want to take a long, long time and do a very thor-
ough process. We are trying to find that deep current in the middle
that allows for an open, “best practices” search process, while at
the same time keep the momentum moving forward.
“By the way, it is a gift from God that we have an educator and
communicator and leader like Haddon Robinson as President. And
we are also blessed to have Alice Mathews as Dean, because not
only did we have a President resign, but also the Vice President for
Education. So the fact that we have both is a providential gracious-
ness from God.
“Dr. Robinson’s willingness to serve as President allows us sev-
eral things, first of all, the gift of time. We do not need to feel anx-
ious about the search; urgent, yes, but not anxious.
“It allows us time to implement a best practices presidential
search. Finally, it allows us to benefit from the gift and experience
and the international presence of Haddon Robinson. We do not
consider Haddon to be a caretaker, and I told this to the faculty. We
consider him to be a President who is a transitional leader.
“As things get rolling, I will be communicating with the semi-
nary community and stakeholders through various channels includ-
ing a section on the Gordon-Conwell website. It can be accessed at
Any last thoughts?
“Just this: At the most basic level, we want to prepare the next pres-
ident for the seminary and the seminary for the next president.”
33 f al l 07
Seminary Names Dean for South
Hamilton Campus
Dr. Alice P. Mathews, Lois W. Bennett Professor Emer-
ita of Educational Ministries and Women’s Ministries,
has been named Academic Dean of the South Hamil-
ton Campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
She succeeds Dr. Barry H. Corey, now President of
Biola University in La Mirada, California.
Prior to her current appointment Dr. Mathews had
been the Lois W. Bennett Associate Professor of Educational Min-
istries and Women’s Ministries from 1999 to 2005. She had also
spent more than a decade at Denver Seminary where in the 1980s
she established a comprehensive program for women’s studies on
that campus. Subsequently, Dr. Mathews served for three years as
Dean of the Philadelphia Center of the Seminary of the East.
She is widely known for her participation in the daily Bible-
teaching radio program, Discover the Word. Dr. Mathews ministers
regularly at women’s retreats, conferences, and in churches inter-
nationally and throughout the United States, and lectures on wom-
en’s issues in other academic settings. She is the author of books
of Bible studies for women, including A Woman God Can Use,
A Woman Jesus Can Teach, and A Woman God Can Lead, as well
as Marriage Made in Eden and Preaching that Speaks to Women
Dr. Mathews holds an M.A. from Michigan State University and
a Ph.D. from Iliff School of Theology/University of Denver.
She and her husband, Randy, have four children and six adult
Robert J. Mayer, D.Min., Director of the Harold
Lindsell Library at Gordon-Conwell—Charlotte
and an administrative faculty member, has
been named Senior Librarian and Director of
Gordon-Conwell Libraries.
In his new role, he will be responsible for
oversight of the seminary’s entire library
system, which includes the Boston, Hamilton and Charlotte
campuses and the Jacksonville extension site. He will be
based in Charlotte.
Prior to joining the Gordon-Conwell community in 1997, Dr.
Mayer served for 15 years as Director of Publications for the
Advent Christian General Conference and editor of the Advent
Christian Witness. He received an M.A. from Fuller Theological
Seminary, an M.L.I.S. from the University of North Carolina at
Greensboro, and a D.Min. degree from Gordon-Conwell.
He has extensive experience in writing, publications and re-
search, and has taught in a variety of academic and church
settings. He is ordained by the Evangelical Church Alliance.
Charlotte Library Director Appointed to
Manage All Campus Libraries
Eldin Villafañe, Ph.D.,
Professor of Christian So-
cial Ethics and founding
Director of the seminary’s
Boston campus, the
Center for Urban Ministe-
rial Education (CUME),
received the Esperanza
Spirit Award at the 2007
National Hispanic Prayer
Breakfast and Conference
in Washington, D.C.
Presented by Esperanza USA during the organization’s keynote
prayer breakfast, the prestigious award is conferred for exemplary
ministerial service and is based on Matthew 25:42-43: “For when
I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was
thirsty, you gave me something to drink, and when I was a stranger
you welcomed me...”
Dr. Villfañe was recognized as “a social ethicist and a lifelong
community advocate and passionate teacher of social justice.”
Esperanza USA, considered a leading voice for Hispanics of
faith in the nation, is a network of Hispanic Christians, churches,
and ministries committed to raising awareness and identifying
resources that strengthen the Hispanic community. More than
750 Hispanic clergy and community leaders attended the keynote
prayer breakfast that included remarks by President George W.
Dr. Villafañe, who was named one of the nation’s 10 most in-
fluential religious leaders and scholars by the National Catholic
Reporter, served as CUME’s founding Director from 1976 to 1990.
CUME Professor Receives Top National Award
Board Grants Order of Barnabas Awards
at Charlotte Commencement
Dr. Robert E. Cooley, President Emeri-
tus, and Dr. Wayne E. Goodwin, Profes-
sor of Ministry, were honored by the
Board of Trustees with the Order of
Barnabas Distinguished Service Award
during Commencement exercises for
Dr. Cooley, who led Gordon-Conwell from 1981 to 1997 as Presi-
dent, Professor of Biblical Archaeology and subsequently Chancellor,
was cited for his “far-reaching vision” that “birthed a new Gordon-
Conwell campus for the Southeast—and a new model for theological
education decades ahead of its time.”
A citation chronicling his accomplishments noted that Dr. Cooley
“envisioned and conceptualized for the Charlotte campus a whole new
way of offering ministry training—a contextualized educational model
shaped around people’s busy lives rather than around traditional
course schedules. This approach which enables students to pursue
degrees while remaining active in ministry would become known na-
tionally as the Charlotte Model, and would later be replicated across
the United States.”
Dr. Goodwin, the first Executive Dean of Gordon-Conwell Theologi-
cal Seminary—Charlotte, was cited for “serving at a crucial time in
the seminary’s history,” conceptualizing and bringing together all the
constituent parts of the “revolutionary new curriculum utilized by the
Charlotte campus...Wayne’s character and philosophy of education are
indelibly marked on the campus.”
Ordained in the United Methodist Church, Dr. Goodwin was also
recognized for pastoring churches while serving the seminary, “living a
belief that the academy ultimately serves the church.”
A Founders Day observance held during the Charlotte Baccalaureate
celebrated the campus’ 15th anniversary.
34 f al l 07
The Christian Medical & Den-
tal Associations (CMDA) in
June honored Gordon-Conwell
President Dr. Haddon W. Rob-
inson and his wife, Mrs. Bon-
nie Robinson, with the 2007
Servant of Christ Award “in
recognition of how they have
modeled Christ in serving oth-
The 17,000-member as-
sociation established the
award to honor “those whose
careers have blended well the
attributes of a commitment to
Christ and service to others, and those who have demonstrated a re-
markable commitment to excellence in the field of missions, research,
patient care, or medical ethics.”
Dr. Robinson served as General Director of the Christian Medical
& Dental Associations from 1971 to 1979 and as editor of the CMDA
Journal. A citation delivered during the awards ceremony acknowl-
edged the Robinsons’ significant involvement in the organization’s
family conferences where they imparted “the love of Christ and the
truth of God’s Word into the lives of the hundreds in attendance
throughout the years.”
CMDA is a national organization with more than 80 ministries, in-
cluding international missions, continuing medical education and a
policy arm that educates members and the church on bioethical issues
like stem cell research and physician-assisted suicide.
The Robinsons received the award at the CMDA national meeting in
Orlando, FL, where Dr. Robinson also was a convention speaker.
Dr. and Mrs. Haddon Robinson Receive
Servant of Christ Award
Women’s Council to Celebrate
80th Anniversary Beth Isaac
What began as a simple research project to confirm some historical
facts turned into a delightful and inspiring “return to the past” for
the executive committee of The Women’s Council of Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary when they rediscovered in their archives
documents dating from 1928. These documents established the
formation of the council for the purpose of supporting the vision and
mission of Gordon-College and Divinity School.
The early documents also offered a fascinating snapshot of the
council’s involvement in almost every detail of student life, from
providing furniture and drapes for dorm rooms and conducting tours
of Boston, to hosting social events for students and even purchasing
“phonograph recordings of marching tunes for the type-writing class,” as
the council sought to insure the wellbeing of the students and to further
the “evangelical ideals” of the institution.
Since establishing an endowed scholarship fund in 1986, the
council’s focus has been to raise money annually for scholarships
through donations from members and friends. During the past eight years
alone it has raised $104,000, granting scholarships of $2000 each to
52 students.
The year-long 80th anniversary celebration begins in the fall of 2007
and will include interviews with former Women’s Council Scholarship
recipients, who will share stories of what God has wrought in their lives
since setting out to serve Him in various capacities following completion
of their degrees.
The celebration will culminate in the spring of 2008 with a major
event that will include a video documentary on the history and
contributions of the council, members in period costumes from the
1920s through the 1950s, a display of pictures and other items from the
historical archives, and a time for honoring the service of past presidents.
The Women’s Council holds its programs and luncheon meetings
three times a year on the South Hamilton, MA campus. For
information about how you can join the Women’s Council and
contribute to its work on behalf of seminary students, please contact
Carolyn Umenhofer, Treasurer, at 978.468.2148.
Beth Isaac is President of The Women’s Council of Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary.
Going the Distance for an M.Div. Degree
Joong W. (Jonathan) Lee thinks the air miles he logged from
California to Gordon-Conwell—Charlotte for his M.Div. degree
equal roughly five trips around the world.
On the Saturday night red-eye back to San Francisco after
weekend classes, the pastor of Waypoint Community Church in
Davis sometimes wrote sermons for the next morning’s service.
On the planes with him were good friends William Kang, Tim-
othy Rhee and Andy Tung. In between trips, William, a licensed
minister at Gracepoint Community Church in Berkeley, directed
a college ministry of more than 400 students at UC-Berkeley
and served as missions director. Andy worked on the college
staff with William while in seminary, and Timothy served as a
pastoral intern and, with his wife, as college department direc-
tor at Waypoint Church.
While the four “California guys” were flying from the West
Coast, their classmate, Debra Brown, was winging her way to
Charlotte from Ontario, Canada. Amid travel and study, she also
ran a governance consulting firm that services Canadian and in-
ternational clients, many of them Christian organizations.

Traveling students, l. to r., Andy Tung, Joog “Jonathan” Lee, Debra Brown,
William Kang and Timothy Rhee.
L to r: Women’s Council President Beth Isaac introduces Miriam Boylan,
who models historic attire from the early 1900s.
35 f al l 07
A Message from Howard Freeman
Billy Graham has probably preached on the verse more than any other, but
it is still as fresh as if I were reading it for the first time: “For God so loved
the world that he gave his one and only Son...” (John 3:16).
What I love about this verse is that one way the Father reveals himself is by
giving. And Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28). And the
Holy Spirit has been given to us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance,
yet another gift (Eph 1:14). Our triune God is a giving God! It’s hard not to
get excited about giving, because each gift given in love mirrors what God
has done for us, what he is doing, and what he will do.
Your faithful gifts of financial support are a lifeline for the seminary that
we always receive with great gratitude, and we are ever thankful for your
generous gifts of time, involvement on a volunteer committee, emails
with advice on alumni/ae matters, and the hospitality in many of your
homes and offices.
These columns are
always fun to write,
because I dearly en-
joy encouraging you
in the Lord to give
to God’s Kingdom,
not just to Gordon-
Conwell; yet, this is
my final column. I
have accepted a po-
sition at Redeemer
Presbyterian Church
in New York City, as
Director of Generos-
ity and Development. President Haddon Robinson has named William M.
Fisher as Interim Chief Development Officer at Gordon-Conwell.

Redeemer is pastored by a Gordon-Conwell graduate, Dr. Tim Keller (M.Div.
’77), who founded the church in 1989. I will be overseeing the giving and
stewardship effort there, as they prepare to enter a major campaign, focus-
ing on global church planting, leadership training, serving the poor and
building a new sanctuary on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. This is a bit of
a homecoming for me: I grew up in Manhattan. New York is where my wife
and I met, and where we had our first child before coming to Gordon-Con-
well. It has been a bittersweet decision because I so enjoy working with the
seminary’s various constituents, and yet I feel a profound call by God for my
family to go to New York to live, and for me to minister with Redeemer.

I had the pleasure of hiring Bill Fisher in April 2004 as
Director of the Annual Fund. He will serve Gordon-Con-
well and your interests well. He is a Kingdom-minded
man. Before coming here, Bill was with the Haggai
Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, and, before that, served as
Associate Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Hamp-
ton Falls, New Hampshire. He also served with honor
in the Coast Guard based in Maine. He and his wife,
Lisbeth, have two grown children and one granddaugh-
ter. I look forward to your meeting him and members of
his team as opportunity allows. The Development Office is in strong hands
with Bill, just as the seminary is under the godly leadership of President

I have been blessed by your giving and your friendship. I will miss you.
Thank you for seven wonderful years of association at Gordon-Conwell.
To the cheers of family and
even some California friends, all
five were awarded M.Div. degrees
during Charlotte’s spring Com-
mencement exercises. Debra was
a Commencement speaker.
For the California team, the
need to pursue M.Div. degrees
full-time evolved as their min-
istry involvement increased.
Close friends during college
days at Berkeley, they had all at-
tended Gracepoint Church and
after graduation served at the
church while holding full-time
jobs. When the church planted
Waypoint Church, Jonathan and
Timothy were part of the church-
planting team. All are called to
full-time ministry.
“One requirement for seminary
for me was to be able to continue
on with my ministry,” explains
William Kang, his comments re-
flecting the sentiments of all five
The quartet from California
explored West Coast seminaries,
but none offered the flexibility of
Charlotte’s once-a-month weekend
classes that they could combine
with an initial 10 Semlink dis-
tance education courses. They
could also take summer inten-
sives both in Charlotte and at
the South Hamilton campus, and
Greek and Hebrew in San Fran-
With the Charlotte model,
Debra Brown says, “You can
pursue a world class M.Div.
while working. Not only would
I get an M.Div., but a Gordon-
Conwell M.Div.” She also chose
the school because it is multi-
denominational and, she adds,
because “the supportive way they
look at women in ministry was
helpful to me.”
Jonathan Lee good-naturedly
explains the drill for trips to
Charlotte. The team would board
the red-eye on Thursday night,
arrive early Friday morning, take
Friday evening and all-day Sat-
urday classes, fly back Saturday
night or early Sunday morning,
and arrive, in his case, in time
to preach. Often, concepts he
had learned during the weekend
found their way into his sermons
the next day.
The team got adept at waiting
for major airline sales, and book-
ing several flights in advance.
They also surfed the web for rea-
sonably priced double-occupancy
hotel rooms—sometimes for as
low as $20/night apiece—and
watched for car rental deals then
split the cost four ways.
For Timothy Rhee, “the big-
gest contributor to making these
trips ‘sane’ and ‘doable’ was that
I never traveled alone. We are all
very close friends and ...there
was a sense of... ‘we’re doing this
together’ that made our travels
times of fun fellowship. I know
that I could have never survived
these past five years if I were do-
ing this alone!”
Debra’s original five-year de-
gree plan evolved into six years,
partially because, as she quips,
border officials “thought I was a
terrorist.” One day shortly after
passage of the Patriot Act, she
showed up at the airport and was
denied entry into the U.S. Seven-
teen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11
had been part-time students. For
the next year, she was blocked
out of the country, and had to
return as a full-time student to
meet INS requirements.
In all, Debra made 60 trips
to Charlotte. For language and
exegesis classes, she flew every
other weekend. She completed
one-week intensive classes in
two weeks, taking classes for one
week and finishing the course as-
signments the next week at home
or wherever her business travels
took her. “Plane rides and sitting
in airports are a real gift,” she
comments. “I can’t tell you how
many vocab cards I went through
while traveling.”
Debra says she couldn’t have
completed her degree without her
husband, who works in the busi-
ness and “picked up the slack”
when needed.
All the traveling students give
high marks to the education
they received at Gordon-Con-
well. “Because of GCTS, I feel
equipped and prepared for local
church ministry,” William Kang
comments. “I’m more confi-
dent in biblical and theological
knowledge, and in preaching and
“The education and training I
have received at Gordon-Conwell
have been tremendous bless-
ings,” adds Timothy Rhee. “In
addition to the education, I have
been blessed...to fellowship with
the faculty members and fellow
students. It has been very en-
couraging and inspiring to see so
many of them serving God with
zeal and passion.”
36 f al l 07
Gordon-Conwell Students
Travel Throughout the World for
Overseas Missions Experiences
Each summer,
dozens of
students travel
across the
globe, fulfilling
the Great
Commission and
sharing the love
of Christ as part
of the seminary’s
(OMP). Through this innovative program, students are able to
gain real-world experience, aid an existing missions program and
gain class credit for their work. This year was no different, with
45 students participating in a variety of programs.
OMP’s mission is to “mobilize, train, and send out teams of
students into cross-cultural areas around the world where they
can learn to serve the poor, to share their faith, and to network
with Christians and missionaries from a broad spectrum of other
cultures and church traditions.”
The OMP projects are divided into six categories: Theological
Education, Church Planting, Shan/Dai adoption, Relief and
Development, Bible Translation and Uttermost Parts. Through
the last category, students are able to apply for support of
unique missions projects.
Following are highlights provided by some of the 2007
participants about their experiences on the mission field.
Team Midwest, USA: Christi Berger, Joshua Tsang
Christi says their team worked with immigrants at an American
facility whose mission is to share Christ by building bridges with
the people of the community. Joshua developed relationships
with the men by having coffee, tea or dinner with them, and
instructed them in English. Christi taught English to other
females, helped prepare them for citizenship tests, took care
of their children while they were in class, and spent time
in their homes.
She remarked that the people are “crying out for something
more than what they have, especially the women. They love the
facility where we worked and the staff/volunteers there because
they feel loved, appreciated, respected and wanted—something
completely opposite the way many of them feel when they are at
home. God is using this center to share his love. We saw one of
our children come to the realization that Jesus Christ is the only
way, and has made the decision to be a follower of Christ.”
Team Rafiki in Ghana: Drew Winkler, Sherly Paraison, Natasha
Cassamajor, Sara Khachaturian, David Moon, David Kim
“The purpose of our ministry in Ghana has been to volunteer
at an orphanage under the Rafiki Foundation, which is found
in 10 African countries. We have worked in association with
the missionaries in Rafiki in teaching, leading the children in
activities, and helping in any way that the village needed.”
Team Zimbabwe: Stephanie Boardman, John Ols, Kristin Odell,
Matt Russell, Chad Hardy, Mary Krause, and Jason Brody.
“Our team went to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where we spent the
majority of our time working with faculty and students of the
Theological College of Zimbabwe. Each member of our team
spent time teaching classes and interacting with the students.
Several of us had the opportunity to preach in various venues,
and there was also time to do a bit of relief and development
work with children and the poor.
One team member says, ‘It has helped me to see that God has
been preparing me for theological education, and reminded
me that such a calling must always serve the Church and its
mission. So I have nothing but praise for God for this trip!’”
Team Shan Adoption: Steve Niphakis, Faye David,
David Cummings, Geoffrey Quinn, Pang Yang, Mayuree
Wichitarapongsakun, Nathan Willems, Vivian Chen.
Team Shan lived with, served, and prayed for the Shan-Tai
people and developed a 30-day prayer guide for the Shan-Tai
people group in the following areas: Thailand: Chiang Mai, Mae
Hong Son; Myanmar: Mandalay, Taungi, Inlay, Yangon
Team Costa Rica: Walter Thompson, Deborah Hawk
“Our team was focused on theological education. We traveled to
San José, Costa Rica, and were involved in observing, learning
and teaching at ESEPA Seminary. We also had the opportunity to
teach and preach in churches in and around San José. We were
able to learn a lot about how the seminary works and saw the
need for theological education for pastors in Latin America.”
Teams were also sent to Lebanon, Ukraine, Belize, Bahrain,
Mozambique, Sudan, Siberia, Dominican Republic, Spain,
Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico.
37 f al l 07
Remembering Dear Friends
The Gordon-Conwell community has mourned the deaths of three great
friends in recent months.
Ruth Bell Graham
Ruth Bell Graham, beloved wife of our founder and trustee,
Rev. Billy Graham, mother of Anne Graham Lotz, and
sister-in-law of Rev. Leighton Ford, also both Gordon-
Conwell trustees, died on June 14, 2007. She was 87.
Mrs. Graham was a woman of devout faith, a spiritual
light to Billy and everyone who knew her, and a deeply devoted wife
and mother. Mrs. Graham distinguished herself by personal involvement
in Christian missions on a global scale and as an active participant in
the ministries of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In 1987,
Gordon-Conwell dedicated The Ruth Bell Graham Hall in her honor, and
the L. Nelson Bell Hall in tribute to her father, Dr. L. Nelson Bell.
President Haddon W. Robinson noted: “We have deep love for the
Graham family, who have greatly influenced and enriched our seminary.
We extend to them our prayers and profound sympathy at this time of
loss. We rejoice, too, in the hope that Christ gives to those who trust in
Dr. Burton Goddard
Dean Emeritus Dr. Burton Goddard died in New Oxford,
PA, July 22, 2007, at the age of 97.
Dr. Goddard served at Gordon College and Gordon
Divinity School for 34 years, holding positions of Dean,
Professor of Biblical Languages and Exegesis, and Director of the Library.
The Goddard Library was named in his honor at his retirement. An
ordained Presbyterian minister, he served as pastor of the Carlisle (MA)
Congregational Church, and was also instrumental in the founding of
the Evangelical Theological Society, Boston Christian High School (now
Lexington Christian Academy), Deerwander Bible Conference, and the
Chinese Evangelical Literature Committee.
He was first general secretary and an editor and translator of the
Committee on Bible Translation, which in 1978 produced the New
International Version of the Bible. Dr. Goddard was also editor of The
Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Missions and author of The NIV Story,
Meet Jeremiah and Animals of the Bible.
Dr. Meredith Kline
Noted Biblical scholar and Professor Emeritus of Old
Testament at Gordon-Conwell Dr. Meredith Kline passed
away on Saturday, April 14, 2007, at the age of 84.
An eminent scholar, Dr. Kline studied at Westminster
Seminary and received his Ph.D. from Dropsie College. He taught at
Westminster Theological Seminary, Gordon Divinity School, Gordon-
Conwell Theological Seminary, Westminster Seminary California and
Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Kline was ordained in the Orthodox
Presbyterian Church.
Among Dr. Kline’s publications are God, Heaven, and Har Magedon:
A Covenantal Tale of Cosmos and Telos; Glory in Our Midst: A Biblical-
Theological Reading of Zechariah’s Night Visions; Kingdom Prologue:
Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview; Images of the Spirit
and The Structure of Biblical Authority.
The Gordon-Conwell community extends to the families of each of
these friends our prayers and deepest sympathy.

For more information, visit http://www.gordonconwell.edu/
Chinese Scholars Conference
Gordon-Conwell was
honored to host “The
Role of Religion in
Chinese and American
Culture” conference,
sponsored by the Chi-
nese Christian Scholars
Association of North
America and Just Peace
Ministry. More than 30 scholars and graduate students partici-
pated in the conference and over 20 papers were presented
reflecting on their research and observations of religion in
each country. Dr. Todd Johnson, Director of the Center for the
Study of Global Christianity, presented a paper, “The Changing
Demographics of American Religion, 1900-2050.”
Archaeological Study Bible
wins ECPA award
The Archaeological Study Bible, pro-
duced by Gordon-Conwell and Zondervan
Publishers, won the 2007 Evangelical
Christian Publishers Association (ECPA)
Christian Book Award for Bibles, at the
Christian Booksellers Association &
ECPA Awards Celebration in Atlanta, GA.
The Archaeological Study Bible was re-
leased in 2006 after five years of study
and preparation. It quickly became a
favorite, selling over 250,000 copies in
the first year, earning the distinction of
best selling Bible of 2006. The ASB was
edited by President Emeritus Dr. Walter
C. Kaiser, Jr., and features contributions
from a number of Gordon-Conwell faculty.
The Archaeological Study Bible is available at the Gordon-Conwell
Bookcentre http://www.gordonconwell.edu/bookcentre/
National Preaching Conference
Scheduled for September ‘08

Mark your calendars for a national preaching conference at
Gordon-Conwell, Called to Preach, September 4-5, 2008 on
the South Hamilton campus. Sponsored by the seminary’s Cen-
ter for Preaching, the biennial event will feature top national
preachers, helpful teaching sessions and workshops, and the
opportunity to enjoy New England in the fall.
Alumni/ae will also discover opportunities to reconnect with
the seminary and each other during a number of events for graduates.
Watch for more details at www.gordonconwell.edu/Centerfor-
38 f al l 07
Allaby, Stanley, ’56, celebrated the 50th
anniversary of his ordination on June 4,
Blaschke, Rev. Robert C., M.Div., ’52, was
married on Oct 22, 2006, to Betty Stam
Erickson and is currently living in Willow
Valley Retirement Community.
Concklin, Richard, M.Div., ’69, took an
early retirement from TDS Telecom where
he had worked for 13 years as a billing
analyst and is now working with the
Wisconsin District of The Wesleyan Church
as a pastoral coach and church consultant
Taylor, F. Stuart, M.Div., ’68, retired in July
2006 after 39 years in the pastorate.
Lambooy, Philip J, M.Div., ’84, is Pastor of
Christ Covenant Church, PCA, in Waldorf,
Maryland. His wife, Margaret, teaches and
has a small business.
Mueller, Dr. Walt, M.Div., ’86, D.Min, ’05,
just released his latest book, Youth Culture
101 (Youth Specialties/Zondervan).
Pughe, Roberta, MA, ’88, has just
published a book, Resurrecting
Eve: Women of Faith Challenge the
Fundamentalist Agenda (Caveat Press,
Wan, Sze-kar, M.Div., ‘82, was appointed
Professor of New Testament at Perkins
School of Theology, Southern Methodist
University, effective July 1, 2007.
Charles, Marcella, M.Div., ’96, was
installed as Senior Pastor of The
Dorchester Immanuel Church of the
Nazarene on Blue Hill Avenue in the
Franklin Park neighborhood of Boston on
March 18, 2007. In addition to pastoring,
she continues to serve with Campus
Crusade for Christ (CCC).
Jones, Dr. William H., D.Min. ’98, has
been named interim provost of Columbia
International University.
Lowman, Bob L., Jr., D.Min, ’98, became
Director of Missions of the Metrolina
Baptist Association in Charlotte, NC, on
September 15, 2006. The Metrolina
Association, founded in 1886, is made
up of 110 Southern Baptist congregations
in the Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
Pettigrove, Glen, M.Div., ’96, was awarded
the Baumgardt Memorial Fellowship by the
American Philosophical Association.
Rata, Cristian G., MA, ’96, is currently
Lecturer in Old Testament at Torch Trinity
Graduate School of Theology in Seoul,
South Korea.
Ryan, Kevin, MAR, ’93, received a D.Min
from Graduate Theological Foundation in
May, 2006, and is currently working at
Masters Regional Academy in Smithfield,
Shidemantle, C. Scott, M.Div, ’91, and
wife, Wendy, welcomed their second
child— Luke Curtis Shidemantle—who was
born on November 29, 2006.
Shriver, Andrew, MA, ’99, an Army
Chaplain, invented an expeditionary
portable chapel kit for the U.S. Army, and
is now serving in Afghanistan.
Treick, Katharine (Brown), MA, ’98, and
husband, Joel welcomed their first child,
Lilia Marie, on March 21. Joel is currently
finishing the M.Div at Westminster
Theological Seminary in California. The
family moved to Chattanooga, TN, where
Joel has been named Associate Pastor
of Evangelism and Outreach at First
Presbyterian Church
Underation, Chris, MA, ‘99, is now
Assistant Professor of Communications at
the University of Findlay in Ohio.
Dodson, Jonathan, M.Div., ’04, Th.M.,
’05, has relocated to Austin, TX, to plant
Austin City Life Church, whose vision is
to cultivate communities of Spirit-led
disciples who redemptively engage peoples
and cultures through Christ for the glory
of God. www.austincitylife.org and www.
Doudt, Ben, M.Div., ’01, returned from
three years in Cairo, Egypt, in December
2006. He began teaching OT Survey at
Charlotte Christian School in Charlotte,
North Carolina, beginning in August. He
and his wife, Julena (MAME 2002), have
two children: Joseph (born in 2002) and
Zoe (born in Cairo in 2005).
Dowdell, Aaron, MA, ’02, is currently an
in-home family therapist with the IMPACT
program in Lexington, Kentucky. He earned
his professional License in Marriage and
Family Therapy in 2006, and serves
families with Severe Emotionally Disturbed
children and youth. He has 2 children, Will
(3 years) and Samuel (1 year).
Lawrence, Ryan, M.Div., 04, co-wrote
an article, “Religion, Conscience, and
Controversial Clinical Practices,” that was
published in the Feb. 8 edition of the New
England Journal of Medicine.
Lim, Kar-Yong, MA. ’00, recently
completed a Ph.D. in New Testament from
the University of Wales, Lampeter, United
Kingdom, and is now Lecturer in New
Testament Studies at Seminari Theoloji
Malaysia (Malaysia Theological Seminary),
Seremban, Malaysia.
Stine, Rev. Dr. Carrie, D.Min, ’05,
was elected to serve as Moderator of
Northumberland Presbytery PC (USA)
during 2007.
Stinson, Joseph, D.Min., ’06, was
promoted to top flag rank, Rear Admiral,
Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Reserve
Matters in Washington, DC.
In Memoriam
Dean, Dr. Lloyd F., M.Div., ’46, passed
away on March 21, 2007. Dr. Dean is
survived by wife, Myrtle, a son and two
Tabor, Vincent E., M.Div., ’62, passed away
on January 2, 2007. He is survived by his
wife, Jean, two daughters and four siblings.
Van Vorst, Rev. K. Leslie, D.Min., ’59,
passed away after nearly 50 years of
Christian ministry. He pastored the
Kiantone Congregational Church in
Jamestown, New York, for 6 years, received
a call to pastor 2 churches in Sydney,
Australia, and spent the rest of his life
there. He is survived by his wife, Judy; 4
sons; 7 grandchildren; and brother, James.
Waterman, Leonard, M.Div., ’58, passed
away on April 7, 2007. He is survived by
three daughters and 13 grandchildren.
39 f al l 07
The narrative of 1 Samuel provides memorable im-
ages of David’s commitment to the Lord in the face of
danger and suffering. Who can forget David’s response
to Goliath’s taunt: “You come to me with a sword and
with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in
the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies
of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Sam 17:45 ESV)?
However, there is a lesser known and more laconic
episode that happened shortly before David receives
the kingship. In 1 Samuel 30:1-6, the author describes
what seemed to be a regular occurrence in the frontier
region of southern Israel: tribal raiders overwhelming
their enemies’ settlement (cf. 1 Sam 27:8-12). In this
particular case, the Amalekites, probably in retalia-
tion to a previous military encounter (cf. 1 Sam 27:8),
ambushed David’s pied-à-terre of Ziklag. The attack
has left David and his band in complete despair. The
settlement is destroyed, their possessions are gone,
but more devastatingly, wives and children have been
taken captives.
Matters get worse as David’s band of discontented
wanderers (1 Sam 22:2) turn against him and are ready
to stone him. David has been in tight spots before, but
now the end seems imminent. However, this climactic
catalogue of misfortune is abruptly interrupted by the
declaration, “but David strengthened himself in the
Lord his God” (v 6). We are not told specifically how
David regained control of his troops, but this sentence
may be regarded as the turning point of the narrative.
Hereafter, David gradually gains the initiative and
eventually recovers completely from his loss (v 18).
The verb “to strengthen oneself” can have, among
others, the general meaning of political strength, mili-
tary strength or courage. In 1 Sam 30:6, the definition
of courage seems to fit the context best. The phrase
“the Lord his God” (or “the Lord your God”) is quite
common in the Old Testament and occurs frequently
in the covenantal context of Deuteronomy (cf. Deut
4:34, 40; 17:19). Frequency drops significantly, how-
ever, when the phrase is found in association with a
preposition. With the preposition “in” (be in Biblical
Hebrew), it is attested either in a positive context:
“Believe in the Lord your God” (2 Chron 20:20) or
negative: “Against the Lord your God you have trans-
gressed” (Jer 3:13).
1 Sam 30:6 is noteworthy because it is the only at-
tested instance where the verb “to strengthen oneself”
is modified by the phrase “in the Lord his God.” By
contrast, even close parallels fail to convey the same
relationship between the verb and the prepositional
phrase. Solomon “strengthened himself with regard to
his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him” (2
Chron 2:1). And Jonathan “strengthened his hand in
God” (1 Sam 23:16). Thus it seems “in the Lord his
God” takes on an important function. It determines
precisely the nature of the strength that David found.
It was not a martial courage found deep within him-
self; it was not a regaining of emotional composure;
instead it was a personal courage grounded in cov-
enantal trust and loyalty to his God. Somehow, even
when confronted with deadly danger, David’s instinc-
tive reaction was to turn to his Lord. It is perhaps
with such incident in mind (along with his encounters
with King Saul, cf. 2 Sam 22:1) that David would
write: “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my
God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and
my cry came to his ears” (2 Sam 22:7 ESV).
In our own times of testing, may we also have the
presence of mind to turn to our Lord as a first re-
sponse rather than an afterthought, or worse yet, to
seek comfort through other means (cf. Saul’s consulta-
tion with a medium, 2 Sam 28:5-7).
Thomas D. Petter, Ph.D. joined Gordon-Conwell
in 2006 as Assistant Professor of Old Testament,
bringing expertise in Biblical Hebrew grammar and
exegesis, Old Testament history and Near Eastern
archaeology. He has taught on the mission field,
in church settings and at several academic institu-
tions in the US and Canada. A contributor to the
Archaeological Study Bible (Zondervan) and the Dictionary of the
Old Testament: Historical Books (IVP), he is also actively involved in
the publication project of Tell Dothan’s Western Cemetery (cf. www.
gcts.edu/dothan). He holds M.A.R. and M.A. degrees from Gordon-
Conwell and received an M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Toronto
(Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations).
Thomas D. Petter, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor of Old Testament
1 Sam. 30: 1- 6
David’s First Response:
Finding Strength in the Lord
40 f al l 07
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