In his first months as the new president of Fuller, Mark Labberton has been traveling all over the country to meet alums, pastors, supporters and friends and to share the vision of Fuller for this new era. Mark came to my hometown, Houston, TX, in early November for several days of meetings, dinners, visits. He was welcomed in style with a huge sign for all to see on the marquee of Pappasitos restaurant, located on the freeway, Welcome Dr. Labberton, Fuller, Texas. He saw for himself that we do things bigger in Texas!
Over the next three days, Mark met with the staff and students at Fuller TX, the regional campus here in Houston, he had lunch with pastors from across the area, and met with alumni, donors, and friends. It was quite a whirlwind for him and his wife, Janet. It was especially fun for me to have Mark here, as we have known each other since our MDiv days at Fuller in the early 1980's. I was so proud to introduce him as the new President and watch him interact with care and interest to all who talked to him. I heard him share at three different events and marveled at how he communicated the message of challenge and hope in each setting. He took time to answer questions with thoughtfulness and creativity. He has an amazing gift of communicating with all sorts of people, relating to them in different and encouraging ways.
Mark is intelligent and wise, kind and focused, creative and real. He spoke of some of the very difficult challenges ahead for Fuller in this time of turmoil in so many churches, in the culture, in the economy, but he was unwavering in his conviction that God is in charge, is present, and will never let us go. Mark said (in Proclaiming an Urgent Gospel, an article on Fuller's website), "I believe deeply in the urgency of God's love and justice, and I think Fuller is uniquely positioned to influence the way in which that gospel is embodied in the world. That is the major story here-the urgent need of the world to receive the gospel and the power of God to achieve that abundantly, lovingly, and truly beyond imagination." We all know that we live in a broken and hurting world, but in these weeks of Advent, let us focus on the truth that "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14, MSG). May each of us join with Mark and Fuller to be God's hands and feet in helping bring the hope of Jesus into our neighborhoods!
I hope that if/when Mark comes to visit in your area you will make the effort to go hear him share his vision for Fuller. You will be blessed and will remember why Fuller is such an amazing place of hope and promise.