I am writing this note from my cabin on the campus of Word of Life Bible Institute in Pottersville, New York. As Jack Wyrtzen used to say, Word of Life is "high in the Adirondack Mountains." Tonight we have no doubt about that because a massive winter storm has this region squarely in its cross hairs. I just checked the weather report, part of which reads as follows:
SNOW…HEAVY AT TIMES…IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ACROSS THE REGION LATE THIS EVENING…THEN TRANSITION TO A HEAVY MIX OF SNOW…SLEET AND POSSIBLY FREEZING RAIN BY FRIDAY MORNING. THIS HEAVY MIX OF PRECIPITATION WILL CONTINUE INTO FRIDAY…TAPERING OFF FRIDAY AFTERNOON. SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 16 INCHES ARE LIKELY ACROSS THE WESTERN ADIRONDACKS…LAKE GEORGE SARATOGA REGION SOUTHERN VERMONT…AND THE BERKSHIRES WITH THE HIGHEST TOTALS AT ELEVATIONS ABOVE 2000 FEET AND ACROSS NORTHERN PORTIONS OF THE WESTERN ADIRONDACKS. THERE WILL ALSO BE SOME LIGHT ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF ONE TENTH TO A QUARTER OF AN INCH. A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW…
SLEET…AND ICE ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. THIS WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS OR IMPOSSIBLE.
This is Day 14 of a long trip that has taken me from Tupelo to Chicago to Georgia to California and now to New York. My plane is supposed to fly from Albany tomorrow afternoon. One of the Word of Life guys laughed and said, "You'll be here for a while."
This week I've enjoyed teaching Galatians to over 400 very eager and attentive students. The program here is built around three principles--study, life, ministry. Each week a different guest lecturer teaches for ten hours, usually on a book of the Bible. In addition the students have classes in theology, Bible survey and related topics. The "life" part includes discipleship groups, mentoring, and a healthy emphasis on developing spiritual disciplines. All the students are involved in weekend ministry, which during the winter quarter means working in the weekend snow camps that draw upwards of 500 teenagers for a high-intensity combination of music, fun, winter sports and spiritual challenge. The combination leaves the students tired because they are going to class during the week and ministering on the weekends. Word of Life does everything with high energy and enthusiasm, which I greatly enjoy.
On Tuesday I reminded the students that Paul’s amazing conversion (recounted in Galatians 1) proves there are no hopeless cases with God. I told them never to give up praying for their friends and loved one who are far from the Lord. The next day a young man came up and told me that his best friend in the world had shown no interest in the gospel despite many conversations. On Tuesday night he talked to him on the phone for three hours and his friend trusted Christ. He thanked me for telling them never to give up because his friend’s salvation seemed so impossible. But then it happened--and on the very same day.
I met a student from the Dominican Republic who said she had given a copy of my book An Anchor for the Soul to her younger brother. He started to read it in November and took a long time to read the first three chapters. But he liked what he read because he could understand it. When she talked to him in January, he said that he had started to understand the gospel. After talking some more, he told her that he was trusting Christ as his Savior. "I want you to know that God used your book in my brother's salvation," she said.
Since Galatians is all about the gospel, I have started each session with this statement: "When we are wrong about the gospel, two horrible things happen. First, lost people are not saved. And second, God is not glorified." Buddy Gray shared that statement with me last week, and I have repeated it at the start of each lecture because it is so powerful.
This morning during my second hour of teaching, the lights in the Jack Wyrtzen Center suddenly went off because of a massive power outage for miles around. The students naturally started cheering and some of them opened up their cell phones and starting swaying the lights as if they were at a rock concert. After a few minutes, I continued my lecture in the darkness, using a lantern so I could see my notes. We ended up canceling the third hour, which means I will have to shoehorn three lectures into two sessions tomorrow morning.
It’s been a good week. How can it not be a good week when you get to teach the Word of God to so many highly motivated young people?
Now if I can only get home tomorrow night, that will be wonderful. If not, I can always spend another day in the airport. After all, that’s how this week started.