First Responders

By E. David Beaty, PhDChairperson Board of Trustees
American Baptist Seminary of the West

I have a morning practice that begins with prayer and devotional time spent with Our Daily Bread. The practice just seems to set my day right before “life” intervenes. I have been thinking about ABSW and what to say to this fine graduating class for several days. Two interesting things occurred. First the focus of this morning’s devotion was Psalm 67:1,2. Secondly, when I went to the passage in my study Bible I found that I had highlighted those two verses and put ABSW beside it, at some point in time.
The commentary made interesting connections between Psalm 67, Genesis 12:1-3 and Numbers 6:24-27. But I was struck by the observation that the promises in Psalm 67 and its celebration of God’s goodness, though made to Abraham, extends to all the nations of the earth. It speaks of the execution of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Here then is the heart of ABSW.
Each of you have been educated and trained by some of the best scholars and practitioners in the world, for a time such as this. Your education and training was brought to fruition by a diverse faculty, in an institution with a diverse administration student body and Board of Trustees, making you well suited for service to God in this diverse world. Though rarely recognized, you are the first responders in this sinful world. First responders are those who step toward the challenge, confident in the knowledge that they serve a God who will never leave or forsake them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made this a difficult time for everyone, worldwide. But each of you have been prepared to serve God and mankind by showing the world that in difficult times, such as these, we do not look inward in self-pity of outward in anger but upward to God (Psalm 57:7).
The current circumstances are not as important as what you do with them. Our attitude and how we act in these challenging times are a reflection of what we believe. These challenges are an opportunity to demonstrate our faith (Philippians 1:12-14). The celebration for your accomplishments has been postponed but your work commences now. Concentrate on what God can do through you (2 Corinthians 2:16,17).
On behalf of myself and the Board of Trustees I offer heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2020.

“There are few times in our lifetimes when the world-as-a-whole needs the kinds of leaders officially graduating from ABSW this weekend. Congratulations to all of you who have been so diligent in achieving this amazing milestone in your lives at the convergence of your calling and what history will, no doubt, record as one of the most challenging pandemics ever. We are proud of your accomplishments, but even more, knowing you are prepared to serve this hurting world as among the finest human beings alive. May God bless you as you honor Christ’s call to “lay down your lives for your sisters and brothers” in the faith and beyond

—President Jim Brenneman