Friday, November 21, 2008

God Bless the School That D.L. Moody Founded

Finding another Moody grad in Rockford, especially amid the more conservative Baptist circles, is like finding a diamond in your jewelry box.

I knew I was taking that risk when I decided to follow in my parent’s footsteps and attend Moody Bible Institute.

At my high school/church, there were only a few “officially” endorsed colleges, and Moody was not among them.

Moody was and still is hailed as a liberal college where drinking, dancing, and debauchery is king. (Legalistic, cult-forming, brain-washing, uneducated, and uninformed lies – let me just state right here and now.)

In fact, my high school principal asked if it was okay for him to omit where I – the valedictorian – was going to college when he read my name from the stage.

I flatly told him, “No, it’s not okay. If you don’t say it, I will.”

I had lived and breathed legalistic fundamentalism my entire scholastic life. When I set foot, as a high school sophomore, on MBI’s bustling Chicago campus, everything felt poised to change. The air crackled with enthusiasm.

I spent the weekend orientation meeting other prospective students. There were kids from public school in awe of going to a college where God was mentioned in the daily curriculum. There were non-denominationals, Lutherans, Anglicans, Mennonites, and many, many more. There were kids from mega-churches, country farms, overseas, and inner-cities.

There were smiles at every turn, and I felt swept up by the sound of whooshing Chicago traffic along the college sidewalks. I envisioned myself in a high-rise dorm, storming the underground tunnels in the dead of winter, and reflecting quietly in the woodsy parks embedded in the big city college.

Over the weekend, I went to chapel, tagged along on a Practical Christian Ministry assignment in Cabrini Green, and met scores of other Christian teenagers who weren’t legalistic in the least. I sat in classes where the professors snagged my attention for the whole hour. I was disappointed when the buzzer rang announcing the end of classes.

I spent the night in a high-rise dorm with girls who made me laugh so hard, I cried. By the time I met my parents back at the River North Hotel, I had already decided. It was like God had handed me this giant gift, this treasure, and I had instant peace about enrolling as a student in two short years.

My years at Moody are among the most precious time in my life.

For the first time, I learned about God away from the surface, the external, the right-and-wrong rules. I learned about a true relationship with Jesus Christ. I learned what I believed and why.

I participated in ministry – real, life-changing ministry. I led Sunday School classes, tutored Hispanic children in deteriorated neighborhoods, ministered to female inmates at the Cook County Jail, and spent time on my knees praying with unwed mothers at the massive Cook County Hospital.

Say what you will about big city temptations – a big city offers ministry opportunities like no other.

Moody prepares students and lifeguards them into the ministry waters, even as freshmen. They don’t spend four years force-feeding and then thrusting students into a harsh, real world with no ministry experience.

Moody excels at providing real-world ministry experience.

If it isn’t obvious already, I spent my four year at Moody deep-breathing, after nearly suffocating to death in the staid halls of IFB prison. I was a free woman in the most amazing city in the world.

I’ve been back in Rockford for eight years now. In that time, the only other Moody grad I’ve encountered is my mom.

Until Alice.

When Alice and her family showed up at Mom’s church, the pastor announced they were Moody grads. Mom’s antennae quivered happily, and almost instantly, she and Alice were fast friends.

In short order, Mom introduced me to Alice, via her blog. We started out on how-are-you’s and have progressed to a frantic, writer-y, e-mail relationship that is a continual high point in my life.

Last night, we went out to dinner at Olive Garden. We stayed so long; they practically had to kick us out.

Now, I have no problem imagining we’d still be friends if Alice had gone to Maranantha, Northland, Bob Jones University, Pensacola, Pillsbury, Ambassador, Crown, or Hyles-Anderson (although the thought of Alice there makes me smile). I’ve friends from all those learning institutions who I respect and love dearly.

But there’s just something about a sister Moody grad.

It’s made even more interesting, because Alice didn’t grow up as an IFB. She’s just now navigating the trails where I became an expert tracker. Every so often, she’ll throw questions at me and ask “Why do Baptists do this?” Lately, she bestowed on me the title of Baptist Translator.

I plan to put that on my resume. Just FYI.

We barely talk about Moody. It’s just an unspoken, underlying gratefulness for our education and unique ministry experience that permeates our conversation. Your house rests on a strong foundation, but how often do you reflect on it?

Alice’s friendship has been a joy to me, and the fact she is a sister Moody grad is really just icing on the cake.

But that icing is oh-so-delicious. Sort of like something you might find in a bakery. In Chicago. The best city in the world.

Not that I’m biased or anything.


Alice said...

Squee! I'm a diamond?! That is so nice! I think you are too. :-) Mostly though, that is such a great post about MBI. It is such a part of who I am. I think it's cool that we are second-generation students too. Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, there'll be some third generation students some day in both our houses. No pressure on them of course though!

Defense 1 said...

What a great post and testimony to your alma mater! Well said. I am a 1982 grad of Pillsbury. I cherish my years there, still considering them the happiest years of my life Fundy atmosphere notwithstanding. Truth be told, Pillsbury had a "kindler, gentler" Fundy personality than BJU, Hyles, et al. Definitely separatist to a fault but not militant about it. I sense your Fundy experience was more harsh than mine. Anyway, I too have outgrown my Fundy years and am thrilled to know about the Moody ministry. Jay

Robin Hayes said...

Baptist Translator - that's classic...I love it!

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Love the post! I've heard so many good things, fun memories from Tob as well. Wish I had met up with you gals there...

Heidi said...

dh and I have talked about it we would still make the decision to go to Maranatha if we could do it over again and not sure if we would. The knowledge we have both gained since our graduation (mostly since the founding of Morning Star Baptist Church) from MBBC, would tell us to probably consider a place more like Moody now.

Juliet said...

I am so thankful for Moody. Many reasons. The first one being that's where I met your dad. Second the sound bibical teaching I received had helped me all thru life.

And may God continue to bless the school that D.L. Moody founded. May they stay true to the Bible.

Polartribe said...

Wow - how amazing is it that you can find someone from Moody almost anywhere you go! I miss those days and treasure the memories! There isn't a day that goes by that I don't draw upon what I learned at Moody!

I found it humorus that where you grew up and live now thinks Moody is 'liberal'(hee hee if only they knew about us H9W girls ;) ). Out here, it's considered "Very" conservative. :) I'm proud of my school and don't care what others think of how "different" it is!

Parrish said...

very nice article. I am currently graduating from MBI this May, set to spend 3 years in China as an English teacher. I feel well equipped!