When Nazarene Bible College was conceived in Portland, Oregon in June, 1964, my eleven-year-old life across town was also under construction. Our family had recently moved from an ethnically diverse neighborhood in North Portland, not more than four miles from the Memorial Coliseum where the 1964 General Assembly was convened, to Southwest Portland, where the chief leavening agent may have been proximity to many Jewish families, many of whom produced children of prodigious talent and resolve. I should know; I attended high school with many of them.
One constant through all of these days was a steady allegiance to the Moreland Church of the Nazarene in S.E. Portland, where I benefited in the knowing of like-minded boys in the Youth Program, a program that allowed me the luxury of “founding” a fledgling youth-oriented newspaper. Alas! It lasted only an issue or two. And the Nazarene Boys’ Camp record I snagged in the 100-yard dash likely did not last beyond the next summer.
But under the careful instruction of devout Sunday School teachers, flush with the excitement of the 9:45 “opening exercises,” cognizant of righteous preaching, the Lord Jesus Christ made inroads into a stubborn heart.
Moving ahead nearly one-half century, to January of 2013, the time of my first instruction with Nazarene Bible College, the Lord has proven abundantly faithful through passages both bright and difficult in my personal life. The death of our eldest child, Rebecca Louise Leupp, in September of 2016, has been the most agonizing passage I could have ever imagined. Beyond imagining, really, just a brute and relentless reality.
The suffering of Jesus Christ is not for his personal benefit. It was the only occasion for a rupture in the Holy Trinity, as in “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” The death of anyone’s daughter is not on the scale of the salvation of the world, as in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, and yet the bearing of this death by people who never met our daughter continues to be healing, and reassuring that people do care.
“See, how they love one another” reported Tertullian on the tenor of early Christians, a great inducement to join the emerging throng. I have experienced this love through instructing hundreds of Nazarene Bible College students. Without a doubt, I have received more than I have given. Never having met a single one of them, perhaps I shall at a future General Assembly.
Honestly, the only live memory I have from the 1964 General Assembly is the observation that my mother’s washing machine agitator was spinning too much, because of all of the house guests we entertained—so much bedding to launder! Later, in the 1970s, Oregon-Pacific District Superintendent Carl Clendenin, fast from his transfer from Ohio, used Nazarene Bible College graduates as his number one church growth strategy. Many Nazarene congregations were founded across Oregon, and some of them thrive to this day. My Christian life is still under construction, and the Church of the Nazarene and Nazarene Bible College continue in my life in ways efficacious, mysterious, redemptive.
Dr. Roderick Leupp has been teaching at NBC since 2013.
Filed Under: Communicator Published: 07/20/2020