One of the lessons God has taught me through the experience of parenting is that there is so much I don’t know and thankfully, He does!
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9.
With each of my five children, I feel like I have worked to know them, understand them, and advocate for their best interests. This desire has often lent itself to me thinking I know what is best for them. For example, when it came to college selection, I felt like I knew my twins really well and could predict exactly what the right setting would be for their education. I brought our twins, Hope and Eden, to Gardner-Webb for a college visit because it is a Baptist school, and we are a Baptist pastor’s family. We enthusiastically registered for a tour, and I just knew which of my twins was going to love the school and see it as the perfect choice for her. I looked at everything that day through the lens of her major, preferences, and scholarship opportunities. The other twin seemed to be having a good time and asked appropriate questions, but I thought she was only being polite. I was convinced she had her heart set on a larger school. As we concluded our day and walked around the bookstore, I started informally polling the girls for their opinions. You should have seen my jaw drop when the twins had an opposite response to what I expected. Hope could sense right away that God may be leading her to Gardner-Webb, and she wanted to explore all scholarship options. Her twin thought God may be leading her in a different direction, and we just had to laugh at my surprise.
Hope did follow the Lord’s leading in choosing Gardner-Webb, and what a great decision it has been for her! We have seen God provide her with opportunities to participate in ministry, live in a thriving student community, receive excellent academic instruction, and be in an environment that supports her desire to one day serve on the mission field.
Opportunities for ministry
Hope is a junior at Gardner-Webb. From the beginning of her campus experience, she was encouraged to serve and given options as to where and how she would utilize her gifts. Campus ministries and dorm life provided the setting for her to explore how God would have her to serve. I remember the night she started a Bible study in her dorm and wondered if students would come—they did! She combined her love for hospitality and the Bible by inviting the girls into her room for coffee, cookies, and Bible study. Campus Ministries has given her the opportunity to pray for students, pray with students, and share her faith. Her sophomore year she started a Baptist Nursing Fellowship chapter at the school to encourage students in serving in ministry through nursing.
Opportunities to live in a thriving student community
Hope is one of five children, so living with others is a way of life, but we all know as parents what it is like to wonder about that first roommate. I wondered, will her roommate love the Lord? Will she be considerate toward Hope? Will she like living with Hope? Will they be friends? Thankfully, the Lord answered all those questions in a positive way through her roommate Holland. It was the neatest thing to see their friendship develop and see them enjoy living together in the residence hall. Hope now lives in the Suites with a great group of girls that love God, life, and Gardner-Webb!
Opportunities for excellent academic instruction
We were excited to learn more about the academic community at Gardner-Webb. Hope was coming from a high school that valued academic instruction at a high level, and we wanted her to be able to continue that pursuit of excellence. As we learned about the Honors program and met the Nursing faculty, we knew it would be a great place for her to learn. For example, what an amazing experience she had in the Honors program when she was able to travel to Orlando, Florida and present an honors project with two other students. The nursing program challenges her each day to think critically and provide the best medical care.
Opportunity to learn from professors who support her desire to serve on the mission field
Hope, as one of the seven members of our family, had the tremendous opportunity to live two years in India on the mission field. She was age five to seven for those years, and I tease our kids that it really was just a big field trip as part of our homeschooling years. We learned so much as a family and loved living in India. Now, as an adult, she hopes to serve the Lord on the mission field by becoming a nurse. Can you imagine how encouraging it is for her to have professors who support her in this goal? They understand the call to missions and her desire to prepare for it through nursing. This past summer she was able to travel back to India and experience the medical work in that culture.
I am so thankful that God orders the steps for my children and that Gardner- Webb is a part of His plan for Hope. As she continues her junior year, I am confident that she will continue to benefit even more from her experience there as a student.
Sherra Still. Gardner-Webb Mom.