We appreciate neighbors who look out for our best interests: they watch a pet while we’re away, water our plants, or bring homemade cookies or treats. It is easy to feel gratitude toward a neighbor who brings kindness and hospitality to your doorstep. But what about a neighbor who brings an option for your college education?
Such was the case with Emma when her neighbor invited her to church to hear the preaching of Pastor Nathan Mestler, president of International Baptist College and Seminary. Following the service, Pastor Mestler spent time with Emma answering her questions about what made IBCS different. You see, Emma had been attending a secular college and was struggling having to sift through what was spiritual truth and what was error. “I didn’t want to have to filter through the subtle lies in order to find the truth,” remembers Emma. “I would much rather have someone teach me what was true or false and not have to deal with part-truth-part-lie philosophies.”
President Mestler quickly piqued her interest: “Emma, all of our courses are designed with the truth of God’s Word as the foundation. We build our curriculum with the Bible as the starting point — we do not simply attach Biblical truths as a secondary thought to our courses or assignments.”
That was enough to sell Emma on the next direction for her life: she was going to IBCS in the fall. And her major? Secondary education. Emma is burdened for those in the junior high age group and enjoys working with them. And part of her vision came from her own challenges in school while growing up. Emma was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, and it made learning to read and write very difficult. Through her mom’s research, Emma was able to get into some programs that helped her learn how to read.
“I really did not learn how to read until l was in the sixth grade,” recalls Emma. “And if there are other people like me, they need to know how to read because reading is amazing. I actually got all the training necessary for being a reading tutor during my senior year of high school. And I remember thinking, ‘I want to teach.’”
Beyond her coursework, what has been most impactful to Emma are the faculty and staff at IBCS: people like Pastor Scott, Mrs. Gammon, and Mrs. Dornan, who heads the Education Department. And each is more than just a teacher or staff member to Emma — they are her mentors. Whether she has questions about coursework or questions about life, her experience is that the faculty and staff are committed to answering her questions with a question: “What does the Bible say about that?” Emma believes she is getting quality, practical classroom application as well as spiritual formation for her life.
She is finding the same level of encouragement, transparency, and investment through her peers at IBCS as well. “The student body is really helpful for growing and pushing each other to know and understand God.” Emma is grateful for the regular conversations she is able to have with the other students on campus. “How are things going with you? What are you learning in your walk with God? You told me about this struggle — how are you doing with it?” The spiritual community for Emma has been refreshing yet also stretching for her.
IBCS has been very impactful for Emma in her two years at the school. It has helped her to grow and to change. “There are some struggles that have been put in my path along the way to make me grow in a different kind of way,” says Emma. “So there are circumstances that I would never have chosen for myself because they were hard or uncomfortable. But I know that is where the work in my life needs to happen.”
The journey for Emma at IBCS has been much more than getting an excellent education. It has also been a journey of faith. And she is seeing God’s sovereign hand in her life, that He can do whatever He chooses. And it is creating confidence in her heart. “You don’t need to be worried about the finances or the job after graduation,” Emma confidently states. “God is going to provide for you in that. And it has been very exciting to see Him work in my life.”