Davi Lin, RCSA
When Rikki Watts mentioned in class that some people in Brazil would give up an arm or a leg to be at Regent, it may have seemed like a good Australian joke. How could somebody give so much, even a part of one’s body, in order to be here? As a Brazilian student myself, I believe that, indeed, Watts affirmation is true. I have not seen any legless Brazilian crawling at Regent so far; but in my nation, where the Evangelical and Pentecostal churches have grown so much and there are not as many opportunities for quality theological education, many godly people would give all they have in order to be here.
Truly, all of us have given something up in order to come to Regent. Some left loved ones, others have gone into debt, someone sold his house, and another gave up a prosperous career. Giving up is never easy, it is painful; it leaves us with a desire for an absent good. In my own case, it involved leaving my beloved fiancée in Brazil. To say the least: heart-breaking.
It is exactly because we all have given up so much that the posture of our hearts may turn to demand. “What will I receive at Regent?” or “since I have given up so much, I want Regent to…” I think a desire to receive is, to a certain extent, a natural unconscious response; even though not expressed verbally, our primary attitude may be “what will I receive” rather than “what else can I give.”
Last week, Ryan Munn courageously suggested that this “selfish” mode was his default mode upon arriving at Regent, which underwent a process of salvation by his involvement with the RCSA. I wonder if Ryan’s accurate description of his own heart might be our own experience too.
I love Dr. Houston’s description of being at Regent as a “joyful exile”. It reminds me of Jeremiah 29, the letter sent to Judeans in exile in Babylon. They were in a place where they did not want to be, captives in a foreign land, but they were expected to seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which God sent them.
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7)
Though Regent is not Babylon and Regent is not the court of Nebuchadnezzar, our challenge is that community in secular west coast Vancouver does not seem to be an organic ingredient of the culture. It is very hard to naturally build a communitarian atmosphere in our city. As a Latin American, it is still a bit shocking for me how Vancouver is a dry soil for relationships. But this is not the final word to our Vancouver experience; relationships need our constant care, a giving attitude, similar to the one God asked from those in Babylon.
For me, to seek the peace and prosperity of Regent meant an involvement this year with the RCSA as a member at large. It has been a great experience so far. My contribution has been small to the whole of Regent. My commitment is limited by natural reasons such as being a full time ESL student with a part time job. But I thinkthatattheRCSAwehavelearned to value small contributions, with the conviction that everything done in the name of Jesus blossoms in eternity.
A good picture of what this RCSA waiting heart looks like is the image of a pregnant woman. She is generating life, expecting life. In a similar way, in the RCSA we are waiting for the life that can surprisingly and unexpectedly encounter us at Regent as we lay down our lives in availability and service to God and other people. In Portuguese, we say that when a person has given birth to a baby, the expression is “ dar a luz”, literally, “to give light”.
To give, and to give light: that should be our primary attitude at Regent, in the conviction that the Father of Lights will give and has given His perfect gift to us. It is a service that stems from gratitude. Our offering may be small, but still significant: listening to a friend in need, offering help with the kitchen, applying for a TA position, smiling on a rainy day, being a member at large in the RCSA.
We all may think that we have come to Regent in order to study well. But unless we, students, fight for the peace and prosperity of the College God has carried us to, we may gain a degree, but lose what is essential: the giving attitude that first brought us to this place. If we are willing to give a bit more, to keep offering what we have, we will experience that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”, and in turn, our time at Regent will be deeply enriched.