“. . . send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” ~John Donne.
Four-hundred years ago when Donne wrote those words, an English villager would hear the church bell ring and know someone had died but not know who. I can imagine a parent sending a child, “Go down to the church and find for whom the bell is ringing.” I live on an island and am privileged to work with islanders, so the poet’s continuing thought is apropos. “No man is an island.” We are all connected. In the words of scripture, “[N]ot one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself” (Rom. 14:7)
It’s a difficult course of study, but the Novel Coronavirus and the racial unrest that is tearing much of the world apart are teaching all of us that the actions of one impact us all—for good or for bad. Two of the recent lessons have been the news that Kratistos Ezra, a PIBC graduate, died with Covid-19 at Guam Memorial Hospital, and that Rhonda Haynes, our new Academic VP is from Kenosha County Wisconsin, where riots rage and where her husband is a public-defender.
My intent in writing this letter is not to whine, and I’m not looking for sympathy, but I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t tell you that this has been a trying time. This letter is an illustration. I’ve started on it, even got nearly done, at least twice. Before I finished it, though, the situation we were dealing with changed so the letter no longer made sense.
I figure your life is like that. I’m thinking we all probably need to embrace the unknown.
How we react to the unexpected often has a profound impact:
It wasn’t my predecessor, Dave Owen’s, decision to get sick, yet how Dave and Joyce reacted to Dave’s illness put an exclamation point on the foundation they helped to lay at PIU. We are all impacted greatly. None of us caused this pandemic. How we respond to it and what we do in it will impact many for years to come.
Good intentions that survive unexpected difficulties can produce great outcomes:
I wonder if the Pacific Ocean is big enough to contain all the unfulfilled good intentions of life. Obstacles abound between good intentions and effective accomplishments. The Covid-19 pandemic and the racial tension are but the latest manifestations of the evil that haunts our world—some that comes from we know not where and some that spring from our hearts. We sadly read of the casualties from both of these evils.
Lord, don’t let our truly good intentions perish in this evil time (Eph. 5:16), rather let us seize the opportunity (kairos) to do good.
When the unexpected strikes, we need to give greater attention to God’s mission that guides us:
Long before the Novel Coronavirus appeared or the latest round of rhetoric, riots, reaction, reprisal, and refusal to love had descended on us, PIU was offering a transformative message of hope. We believe that people who are transformed by an education imbued with a Biblical worldview and equipped to serve in their community can be change-agents—people of positive impact–wherever they are. We are still dedicated to that mission.
The great need around us and the time of marked transition within make this a kairos moment.
The 2020-21 Academic Year will be the last year I will serve as President. Right now the PIU Board of Trustees is looking for the next President. Please pray. What an opportunity to lead PIU into a bright future.
Our new VP for Academics, Rhonda Haynes, will be in quarantine having just arrived. Pray for a speedy and effective integration.
Education gurus say college won’t go back to the way it was. New delivery systems will remain when Covid-19 is just a bad memory. PIU has had to make changes. Some of those changes make us sharper as we move into the future.
The current pandemic pretty well shut down our efforts to promote the Dr. Dave Owen Memorial Fund. Even so, the fund has continued to increase. See more about DDOMF below. The DDOMF funds on hand are enabling us to get bids to start campus improvements in the memory of the University’s third President.
The pandemic has brought us some grants from the Department of Education. We are already making some improvements that not only help us deal with the crisis but will have a lasting impact.
“I don’t know,” might be the answer of 2020. It’s unnerving but it drives us to the truth, “I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6). The Apostle Paul saw in his weakness an opportunity to depend on God’s strength (2 Cor. 12:9). The unexpectedness and uncertainty of our situation in 2020 ought to compel us to hold all the more tightly to our changeless God and his inexhaustible strength. As we look to the past and forward to the future, we can see God at work.
Long before the Novel Coronavirus, PIU was vetting a plan to offer courses online, using the latest technology and methods. We’re involved in a pilot program this fall. We aren’t leaving traditional classroom instruction behind. Our goal is to strengthen it. We don’t want to be an either/or school. We want to be both/and. From our founding, PIU has focused on the eternal. That emphasis on the unchanging foundation will enable PIU graduates to function as God’s change-agents in the next “I don’t know” time. Thank you for helping us stay on course in this tumultuous time.