In what was certainly a church camp clerical error, in the summer of 2005 I found myself teaching young men and women the Scriptures at a youth camp on the Hawaiian Islands. As you might imagine, the afternoon slot on the camp schedule entitled “recreation” did more than live up to the hype. I strummed ukulele with the locals, surfed at the base of Diamondhead, hiked beach-view mountains, dropped my jaw at the mouth of volcanoes, and did a number of other things I’ve not come close to forgetting.
Yet the memory of that trip continues to linger for more than those seemingly superficial reasons. Before that summer, I’d never been out of the country, nor been any farther west than Dallas, Texas. Further, I’d lived the previous decade in a small Tennessee town where nearly all residents called themselves Christians. For a sheltered young man like myself, culture shock greeted me in the pagan chants overheard late at night in the Oahu mountains, in the general post-Christian malaise that marked the Hawaiian milieu, and in the amount of time it took the teenagers I taught to find the book of Romans. So, beautiful setting or not, I’d never experienced spiritual darkness quite like this.
To make a long story short, that week the Lord graciously loosened roots in my life by opening my eyes to the need for gospel advance in places other than my small town. Shortly thereafter, not coincidentally, my girlfriend bought me a copy of Don’t Waste Your Life. Within 18 months, I’d asked her to marry me and we moved to attend seminary.
Now, fast-forward a decade-plus. Sometime during those years, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis decided that “spreading a passion for the supremacy of God” meant spreading that passion to a Bethlehem College & Seminary extension site in Memphis, the city in which I serve the Lord. As one of that site’s instructors for the past three years, I’ve had floor seats to see the fruit of that investment.
So imagine my delight when I heard last fall that Minneapolis decided to spread that passion to a new extension site in the Hawaiian Islands. To be frank, Dr. Chris Bruno demonstrated significant grace when he didn’t mark my repeated emails as spam. But, like him, and like this institution, I find deep and serious joy in beholding the unfolding narrative of God’s kind providence in our lives. I knew well the degree to which an extension site blesses a region. And I knew the significant need for theological education on those Islands. I told Dr. Bruno as much, then I told my fellow church elders, and then Dr. Bruno himself told my Beginning Greek class here in Memphis a few weeks back.
Minneapolis chose to bless Memphis. It has. Now, to the glory of God in Christ, many in Memphis long to bless Maui.
Dr. Matt Sliger
Adjunct Instructor, Memphis
- Thank the Triune God that he does not work out his purposes in merely one place, but that with the earth as his footstool (Acts 7:49), he’s accomplishing every single thing he intends in Minneapolis, Memphis, the Pacific Islands, and elsewhere.
- Pray for Dr. Chris Bruno as he and his family continue taking steps toward transitioning back to Hawaii to establish a beachhead for ministry in the years ahead.
- Pray for the Bethlehem College & Seminary extension site in Memphis and its students. Ask the Lord to help these students steward their time and resources well so they’d honor Christ at the close of the semester.
- Pray that the Lord might pour out his abundant mercies upon Minneapolis in these days.