Anticipation and excitement filled every seat as 1,300 students, teachers—former and current, and visitors gathered in The Barn for the 20th anniversary celebration of Charis Bible College. Wow, what a great time of remembrance! The excitement in the room was contagious as we came together in a building that was once only seen through faith. I usually have to tell people when I’m excited, but I was very excited to be standing in a room full of so many world changers. The fruit that we’ve seen from this school is incredible, and I am overjoyed that the Lord has used Charis to transform the lives of so many through His love and grace.
It was such an honor to have some of the original instructors—including Linus and Kay LeFever, Don Krow, Wendell Parr, and Leon Matheney—share stories and recount the journey that has made possible all we are accomplishing today. It was wonderful to have old friends be able to come to our new facility and witness for themselves what God has done. The looks on their faces as they surveyed a campus that accommodates over 600 students, was absolutely priceless. They were really blessed, knowing that they were the ones who helped make this possible. They saw the school in its humble beginnings, and their trailblazing has paid off. The reach of Charis, with its correspondence program, online courses, and over forty international and stateside extension schools is ever growing!
Throughout the celebration, roars of laughter were met by moments of awe-inspired silence as the former instructors went up and shared how this had impacted them. New students listened intently to stories of the faithful men and women who made it possible for them to be sitting in the room that day.
Kay LeFever related how she struggled to leave their dream home after being on the mission field in Russia for many years and coming to start a fledgling school with no guarantee of success. Their first grandbaby was on the way, and they left it all. Her husband, Linus, rehearsed memories of those early days and some of the challenges we faced preparing our first world changers. It gave a perspective of Charis that our current students would not have gotten without these eye-witness accounts.
Wendell Parr, who started the journey with me, shared about how his family left a secure and growing church to be a part of this mission. He continues with me today as one of our venerable instructors. Don Krow, a former instructor, took a different approach, amusing the crowd with stories of me falling off the stage in one of our previous facilities. They’ll probably be laughing about that for weeks.
However, no one captured the hearts of everyone there like Leon Matheney. As he spoke, every eye and every ear tuned in as this seasoned minister of over eighty years old opened up his heart with words of love and encouragement. Trying to hold back tears and remembering the days when he spoke in front of a class of thirty, Leon imparted powerful and memorable words to what was now a sea of students. You can view the whole morning's events online here and here.
Several of our international directors came to the celebration with their own news of growth and expansion from all over the world. One was Carrie Pickett, the director of our school in St. Petersburg, Russia: “I graduated with the fourth class in 1999,” she remarks, “so seeing how much it’s grown and the fruit that’s happening is truly an inspiration. It’s been so exciting to see all of my old teachers and the people they’ve ministered to, now ministering to other people. The excitement in the room is overwhelming, and I feel encouraged to go back to Russia and let what’s happening here in Colorado be the inspiration for what we do overseas.”
I am confident that this celebration was more than just a special event. People’s lives were being touched as we took time to remember the things God has done. But the best is still yet to come! If the celebration taught us anything, it’s that the future of Charis is so bright, you have to squint to look at it.
The first twenty years have been amazing, to say the least, but the job of Charis is far from over. We are just getting started on our God-given mandate to make disciples of all nations. If the Lord is speaking to you about Bible college, I encourage you to request an information packet today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, to apply, simply visit www.charisbiblecollege.org. You won’t regret it!