Message from the President
On campus as it is in heaven
One of our primary goals at George Fox is to create a campus that reflects the Kingdom of God
John’s Revelation tells us that every tribe, language, people and nation will stand before the throne of heaven. Because we know that this “divine diversity” is God’s intention for his people, one of our primary goals at George Fox is to create a campus that reflects the Kingdom of God as described by John. Our deep passion to convey the love of Jesus to all cultures makes this essential.
From an educational perspective, we know the world our graduates will engage will be one of conversations and collaborations with people of different cultures from across the globe. But these opportunities are diminished when students have never encountered someone from another culture. It’s one thing to talk about people from other cultures, but getting to know and understand someone from a different culture is something else. In this Journal, you will read about our efforts to bring students to campus who more broadly represent the diversity of the people of God. One such effort is our China initiative, which has bought more than 60 Chinese undergraduate students to campus this semester. Another is our Act Six leadership and scholarship initiative, which now comprises 17 students, mostly people of color, serving in leadership roles on campus.
In September, an incident occurred on campus that was entirely out of step with a university that upholds love for God and people as its highest value. The news of this event sent shockwaves and pain throughout our university, the local community, and beyond. Many in the African-American community were particularly hurt as the event refreshed memories of the horrible mistreatment and even hanging of African-Americans in the United States.
The incident also dismayed our students, faculty and staff who embrace our goal to create a community that reflects God’s kingdom. Of course, our Act Six students were especially hurt and confused by the display and by implied messages about them. But despite their pain, many expressed belief that this event could be turned around for good and become a catalyst for deeper dialogue on campus — a campus they say has been welcoming and warm to them. And that is precisely what is happening. God continues to use this heartbreaking event to open up dialogue and bring deeper understanding of perspectives informed by cultures different than our own. Through the faithfulness of our students, faculty and staff, the George Fox community continues to pursue our passion for diversity on campus as it is in heaven.
There will be many challenges ahead for George Fox University as we continue preparing students to understand and love all people — knowing the risks and pain that may come as a result. Erwin McManus’ book Soul Cravings describes God’s love this way: “This is the story of Jesus, that God has walked among us and he pursues us with his love. He is very familiar with rejection but is undeterred. And he is here even now, still pursuing you with his love.”
McManus is right about God’s love. At George Fox University, we know God is pursing all of us to draw us
closer to him, and it is our mission to make the love of God known. I know of no other way forward.