Since our arrival on Wednesday evening Marlene and I have enjoyed our visit to New Brunswick Bible Institute. We came for the Spring Bible Conference that climaxes this afternoon with the annual commencement ceremony.
This is my third visit to NBBI and Marlene’s second. Two years ago I spoke at the “Men for God” rally that took place in January. Besides the enthusiasm of the 450 men that weekend, I mostly remember seeing more snow than I’ve ever seen in my whole life, including during all the years we spent in Chicago. Snow that was five or six feet deep in some places. Mountains of snow. But that was nothing, they said. Sometimes they get lots of snow in New Brunswick.
By contrast this week we’ve had no snow, though they said they had 5 1/2 inches in nearby Maine last week. Someone said it could snow as late as June, which ought to be illegal if you ask me. Mostly it’s been clear and chilly or clear and warm, and one morning we had fog rising over the fast-flowing St. John River across the road from the campus.
NBBI started over sixty years ago to provide Bible training for young people in eastern Canada and New England. The school is located in a rather unlikely place. You drive down a country road that follows the winding St. John River, you turn a corner and there it is, a 100-acre campus built on a hillside.
Over the decades hundreds of graduates have gone from NBBI to pastor in towns and villages in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and many of them have gone to Maine and other parts of New England. Still others have served in mission agencies in Canada and the US and around the world.
To me NBBI seems like an outpost on the front lines of Christian ministry. Everyone agrees that the Maritime provinces are not an easy area for the gospel. Churches here tend to be quite small. A church of 300 would be very large indeed. Progress is often slow so you need some grit in your soul to stay at it.
Because we’ve been here before, we have quite a few friends at NBBI. It’s been good to renew our friendship with president Barry Beebe and his wife Linda along with other faculty and staff members. We’ve run into quite a few people who know about Keep Believing Ministries.
I’ve been speaking this week on the miracles of Christ. This morning I give my final message from John 21 entitled “What Christ Does With Failure.” Marlene spoke to the ladies twice. We are joined by the Crutchfields, a very talented and winsome young couple who sing “progressive gospel music.”
After the commencement service we’ll make the five-hour drive from NBBI to Brunswick, Maine for a pastors conference on Tuesday. And, yes, this time we remembered to bring our passports.
We have been very impressed by the spirit here. I noticed immediately that people listen intently as I am preaching. And they love to sing. It’s very clear that the students and the faculty have a close relationship. The services have been building in momentum during the weekend. I know we throw about the term “family spirit” a lot, but at NBBI they really are a family. We’ve had graduates from forty and fifty and even sixty years ago with us at the conference.
It’s been fun to be here this week. From this hillside in New Brunswick, they are training the next generation of Christian leaders. We’re glad to be a small part of the big thing God is doing at NBBI.