Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: REMEMBER (10/19/17)
TITLE: Dear Grace
By Jenny Fulton
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I recently heard your news and immediately felt my heart drop. A deep sense of disbelief and loss came over me as I pondered just how instrumental you have been in my life.
I never told you, but in high school, I was a quiet, studious scholar-athlete who worked hard, stayed well within the boundaries of what was comfortable, and rarely socialized. By the time I met you, I was more than ready for a change. I yearned to know what else life held for me, yet was uncertain of my ability to face the unknown.
Move-In Day: I was hesitant, uncertain of what this new life would bring, yet everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. A buzz of expectation filled the air as I, along with all the other new freshmen, found our dorms and settled in.
Those first few days are now a blur. Snapshots run through my mind:
-A small room with lofted bunk beds and wooden desks where I met my roommate who would become a wonderful, lifelong friend.
-Blue skies, an open field, talking and laughing with people I had just met.
-A dimly lit chapel, being nominated and voted in as Freshmen Class treasurer.
Those first days were just the beginning, Grace. You were the one who introduced me to a form of in-depth Bible study known as a “Word Study.” I would spend hours reading, researching, and compiling my observations. It was one of the more painstaking assignments and one of the most rewarding as I learned something new about God and His Word.
Do you remember my first teaching methods class? Our instructor held up a simple can of corn.
“Today,” she said, “we are going to create an entire unit around this can of corn.”
And we did. We came up with math lessons using the nutrition facts, social studies lessons based on where corn is grown and its significance throughout history, science lessons on how corn grows, and creative writing lessons centered around the Green Giant.
I knew I was interested in teaching, but Grace, you sealed the deal. From that point on, I was passionate about it.
Your influence went beyond the classroom, partially prompted by the Servant Leadership Training Program. Somehow, I’m still not exactly sure how, I found myself involved in a Sudanese Ministry.
Every Sunday afternoon, we would drive to some of the poorest neighborhoods where we would pick up Sudanese kids and take them to either a gym or a playground for a Bible lesson, followed by a meal.
This was way out of my comfort zone for several reasons.
1) I was scared to drive in the city and was often asked to be the chauffeur.
2) I was sometimes asked to give the lesson – with absolutely no time to prepare.
3) The African culture and style of worship was completely different from anything I was accustomed to.
It was during this time that I learned to not take myself so seriously, to rely fully on God, and to flow with the unexpected without getting overly stressed. These lessons later served me well in Mexico, China, the Reservation, and now as a wife and mother.
Without you, Grace, I don’t think I would have volunteered in that kind of ministry.
Above all that you gave me, what I will perhaps treasure the most is the relationships. I never realized how closed I was to other people, until you showed me what it means to open up. Once I began to share myself, I discovered wonderful friendships that I scarcely knew were possible.
I met mentors who were incredibly patient with me as I sought out my first teaching position.
I made friends with those who encouraged me onward in a bold life of adventure.
I had fellowship and deep conversations with those who were steady and exuded an understated confidence.
Dear Grace, you opened so many doors for me and it saddens me to know that you will soon be closing your own. Please know that I thank you for being a beautiful vehicle of God’s teaching, his opportunity, and his power. In short, thank you for living up to your name. Your legacy will live on in the lives of all who have had the privilege to be a part of you.
A Thankful Alumnus
*In the Fall of 2017, Grace University officially announced its decision to close after 75 years of serving in Christian Education.
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