Education has been at the heart of what it means to be Nazarene since the very beginning.
“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” I heard that phrase frequently growing up in the Church of the Nazarene. I gained new insights into its truth as I learned more about God’s work in me. I sensed His love through my Christian parents and family members as well as from my pastor, Sunday school teachers, and saints at my local church. That love sprang to life in me when I invited Jesus into my heart as Lord and Savior. I grew in my faith across the years and reached a moment in time when I consecrated myself to Him (Rom. 12:1-2) and accepted His gift of entire sanctification (1 Thes. 5:23-24).
He has continued to deepen my understanding of His incredible love across the years. I will never fully comprehend it.
These are familiar words to most Nazarenes. We do not fully grasp God’s love by describing the new birth, entire sanctification, and growth in grace, however. I realized, as a teenager, that God’s love extends to the physical needs of people as well. How? Through His followers acting as the hands and feet of Jesus by befriending, feeding, clothing, and loving the least, last, and lost in society. I discovered that God awakens people to His love through our compassionate service in His name. I am proud to be part of a denomination that takes seriously the ministries of compassion around the globe.
Not until I became a student at a Nazarene university did I realize that God’s development includes my mind. God prepared schools where caring professors invested in my education and development as a whole person. They patiently listened to my storm of questions about my faith. Their biblical responses satisfied my curiosity and pushed me to study the Bible more deeply.
Only after I graduated from Nazarene Theological Seminary did I realize that God gave early leaders of the Church of the Nazarene an incredible vision of His desire to restore the whole person—physically, spiritually, and intellectually. You see, the master plan of our denomination’s early leaders broadly included:
- Starting local churches of the Nazarene across the United States and Canada,
- Sending missionaries to support mission work already firmly established in 1908 when the Church of the Nazarene officially began as well as to go where the gospel had not been heard,
- Promoting higher education through existing colleges well as to start new ones as the denomination grew.
Early leaders understood the importance of education for its church members. They desired Wesleyan-holiness training for all ministers. Beyond that, they wanted every layperson attending a Nazarene school to receive an education in dozens of subjects from a Christian worldview and value system. They wanted all students to think as disciples of Christ. They wanted them to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Bible. Most importantly, they wanted everyone to experience a vital and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
The vision of our early denominational leaders continues to grip the hearts of today’s leaders a century later.
More than 50 Nazarene Bible colleges, universities, seminaries, and training schools scattered around the world testify to this vision. Tens of thousands of students in Nazarene schools learn daily of God’s plan for their physical, spiritual, and intellectual development.
I am so thankful for a church that has enfolded me in God’s love throughout my life. May God be glorified as present and future generations of students are educated and shaped by Nazarene higher education.
Frank Moore is editor in chief of Holiness Today.
Holiness Today, Jul/Aug 2019