Institute Graduates Reflect on what a Biblical Education has done for them
I am always moved by these verses, particularly the promise that those who learn God’s Word and do it will be blessed “in their doing.” While it’s common for people to call themselves Christians, it’s much less common to find people who have learned God’s Word and put their education into action. It’s not enough to just learn the principles of how God wants us to live. The blessing comes on the other side of doing what you’ve learned.
Recently, I had the privilege of graduating from the Institute for G.O.D., and was inspired by the testimonies of my fellow graduates. We stood together as a group with various skill sets and careers, but one thing in common: the investment we’d made into God’s Word through our education at the Institute.
Honored at graduation were elementary school teachers, plumbers, business managers, a farmer, doulas and childbirth educators, medical assistants, an electrician, office administrators and a personal assistant. They aren’t wondering where they’ll be hired, they’re already working in their respective fields, and some have been for years. Every single graduate already has a job within their field. And yet, every one of us agrees, pursuing a biblical education is the best thing we could have ever done, and it’s prepared us for everything we do.
At graduation, we heard speeches from two graduates who affirmed the same -- that God’s Word is transformative to our personal lives, and vital to everything we do. We’ve gained that at the Institute. I’ve gathered some excerpts here.
Here is part of a speech by Brittany Girton (Bachelor of Biblical Studies, magna cum laude) from Fillmore, Indiana, who works for NOVA Birth Services as a doula and midwifery apprentice. She is a part of the GOD Latin America team.
I gave a speech at my high school graduation and people’s response to my valedictorian ranking was very telling of my hometown. I had multiple close friends say to me, “I can’t believe you are our valedictorian.” They said you in a way that communicated, you from a poor family on the other side of the tracks. I loved proving everyone wrong.
But academics were primarily my coping mechanism - it was a way to shut down everything and tunnel focus on this one thing so I could coast through. When I began classes at the Institute, I quickly realized my studies wouldn’t allow this kind of dichotomy. The word of God invaded me… touched parts of my mind and heart that I had turned off.
Hebrews 12:5-13 became a daily encouragement. Learning about God as Father changed my life… a father who so loves us and wants to be involved in our development that he takes time to discipline us so that we don’t stay the same. I graduated high school as a valedictorian with a full scholarship to go to a liberal arts college. I had letters of recommendation. However, as a person I was broken. I was filled with darkness that came out as insecurities and fear. I would spend weeks in depression wanting to escape the very skin I existed in.
I graduate today though as the letter of recommendation (2 Cor. 3). The word of God has filled me with light. And even though there is always more to learn, even though I continue to make mistakes, even though insecurities creep in at times, I know the truth that comes from God’s Word, and it drives out all darkness.
God’s word is a gift not just for ourselves, but a gift he has given in hopes we become agents of change for others. In challenging moments I often repeat to myself, “God loves you - you’re his workmanship” (Eph. 2:10) and “your life is not your own” (1 Corin. 6:19). In other words, you’re valuable, and worthy, but don’t be selfish with the gift he’s given you.
Here follows another speech excerpt from Stephen Carver of East Nashville, TN. Stephen graduated with honors earning a Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree. He works as a plumber with MCH Nashville and is a part of the GOD India team:
An education in God’s Word is the best thing you could ever get. No career training or liberal arts degrees could ever be as beneficial and applicable to our lives.
Every time I go to work, I consider the example of Paul the Apostle who worked hard day and night to be a man of practical skill who could also bless those around him with knowledge of God’s Word.
Abraham teaches me how to be a man of ambition who still prioritizes his wife and children as the most important thing.
I interact with my friends every day thinking of the committed and sacrificial example of Jesus, the best friend of all, who says, “There’s no greater love than this, to lay don’t you life for your friends.” I can honestly say I wouldn’t know how to be a real friend if I hadn’t learned the Bible.
Every day, in my marriage, I incorporate lessons from Isaac and Rebecca that teach me how to be a good husband when your wife is obviously smarter and more driven than you. But she still incorporates me.
Parenting is hard. I would be lost without parenting strategy from books like Leviticus where we get to see how God raises his children to be holy in a common world. Or a text like Deuteronomy 6 that makes clear the purpose of parenting is to ensure our kids will grow up to be good children for God.
A knowledge of God’s Word has been the strength of my family through trials with my daughter who was born with only half of a heart. I've learned that God has no interest in hurting our kids to test us. It’s something that the prophet Jeremiah says has never even entered God’s mind (Jer 7:31).
Mary, the mother of Jesus, showed us that God loves our kids so much it doesn’t matter how hostile the world is to our kids from birth, God can help us raise them into incredible, historic people.
I remember my prayers as an 18 year old who just graduated high school. “God please give me direction. I want to do something great for you but I have no idea how.” Now my prayers sound more like, “God please give me the strength to handle all of this direction you have given me.”
God has great things in store for everyone graduating here, in addition to the great things we’ve already had the privilege of being a part of. But no matter where life takes us, we will be solid, built on the foundation of God’s Word.
Stephen, Brittany and a whole group of us went through a rigorous program - several of us as we simultaneously worked jobs, got married, and raised families - and we’ve come out on the other side as hearers and doers of God’s Word. While we all work in different professional capacities, it is my prayer that we are, and continue to be, marked by our association with Jesus and our understanding and application of his words and teachings. I am confident that many of us experience the blessing that God has placed on all our “doings”, and will only continue to do so as we strive to act according to his Word.
Institute Graduation 2018
Congratulations to our Graduates!
Stephanie Bartlett, Biblical Studies (Honors)
Cannon Cameron, Community Development (Honors)
Stephen Carver, Biblical Studies (Honors)
Rebekah Davis, Biblical Studies (Honors)
Sara Davis, Biblical Studies
AJ Gerard, Biblical Studies
Brittany Girton, Biblical Studies (Magna Cum Laude)
Geoff Hartnell, Community Development
Kendice Hartnell, Community Development
Rachel Hartnell, Biblical Studies
Anna Hastings, Community Development
Christina James, Community Development & Biblical Studies
Matthew James, Biblical Studies
Kelly Jobe, Community Development & Biblical Studies
Jordan Miller, Community Development & Biblical Studies (Magna Cum Laude)
Rosemary Sherrod, Community Development (Magna Cum Laude)
Laura Voight, Biblical Studies
Julie Watson, Biblical Studies