The ad on the radio makes me smile: a daughter anticipates Mom’s annual pep talk on the potential for new beginnings.
As a mother of four sons, I can relate. Those first days of school can be filled with excitement mixed with anxiety. Words of inspiration are sometimes needed.
I know this because I am the one going back to school.
When I turned 40, my youngest son entered Grade 1 and a window opened for me to begin anew.
I had a growing desire to follow Jesus more closely, to develop a better understanding of what it means to be his disciple, so I decided to go to Bible school.
For the last 10 years, I have been taking one class per semester at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C.
Building on the 16 credits I earned at 19, I am working toward a degree in biblical studies. The pace is slow and it’s not the most economical way of earning a degree, but it’s among the best decisions I have made.
Bible college has been integral to my spiritual formation. Through the discipline of study, I have learned the joy of discovery and the frustration of coming up with more questions than answers. Each class challenges me to articulate my beliefs. Interaction with professors and students provides such positive stimulation that I miss it during the summer break.
A highlight of my studies at CBC was taking a trip to Israel in 2010. A few weeks after my class on Joshua and Judges ended, I was in the places I had just spent a semester exploring through books – incredible! Additionally, my husband Harvey joined the three-week trip and took the course accredited with Jerusalem University College as well.
One difficult college experience was participating in Urban Mission Dynamics. This weekend adventure is a prerequisite for students to graduate with a two-year diploma or bachelor’s degree.
For the four-day urban plunge, my group stayed at Hotel Ivanhoe, a backpacker’s hostel in the heart of Vancouver. Added to the trials of keeping bedbugs and cockroaches at bay, I faced the hazards of navigating social dynamics with college students for whom I was same age as their parents.
On the last night before a prayer walk, I shared with two members of my group: I was afraid to go down Hastings, a street notorious for its high incidence of drug use, sex trade, crime and violence. Rather than taking a different way around, my teammate suggested we face it together, walking alongside one another.
That evening gave me a picture of the strength and encouragement found in the community of Christ.
Each semester as I embark on another class, I look for another mature student. Parents, we value Bible college for the discipleship training and biblical literacy it teaches our young adults – why not consider it for ourselves as well?
I hope my story of going back may inspire someone else to a new beginning.
—Jean Bergen lives in Abbotsford, B.C. A member of Arnold Community Church, she works at the MARK Centre in Abbotsford and is a “third-year” student at Columbia Bible College. She and her husband Harvey own Life Cycles Bike Shop.