Testimonies of hope given at All-Seminary Chapel
Howard Loewen, Dean of the School of Theology
Lining the sides of Travis Auditorium, the Fuller Vocal
Ensemble burst into harmony singing “Bonse Aba,” a Christian song of
celebration popular throughout Zambia, to highlight the All-Seminary Chapel’s
theme, The Light of Hope.
Describing how hope is pivotal in his life, student Kris
Smiley talked about surviving three episodes of cancer, and how he was
diagnosed just two weeks ago for a fourth time.
“It’s horrifying,” said Smiley, “I have disabilities, I have
chronic pain, I have to go to the doctor 30 times a year.”
He also said one of the hardest parts of having cancer is
sensing his parents’ hopelessness, because they know there is nothing they can
do for him.
“So where’s the hope in that?” Smiley asked the audience.
“How can I reconcile a good God with my trauma?”
He said wrestling with these questions is a messy process,
but for him, the only thing that has been satisfying has been the presence of
God. He challenged his listeners to
find the presence of God in their own lives every day. Referencing the book of Isaiah 53:4, which
begins, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,” Smiley
said that not only does it mean God knows intimately what he’s been through,
but in entering his pain and sorrow, he finds Jesus already there.
“Because I’ve been through difficulty, I know God deeper,”
Smiley said. “Hope for me has been the
presence of God.”
Howard Loewen, Dean of the School of Theology, reflected on
the ways in which Jollene Anderson, an employee of Fuller for 36 years, lived a
life of tremendous hope during an ongoing struggle with cancer.
“Her testimony was a testimony to the fact that in our
extraverted society and culture, she had a predisposition, personality and
calling to work behind the scenes and not seek public attention,” said Loewen.
He went on to say she was more private in character and
disposition, but provided a model and mode of being that was life-giving to
Fuller. Her immeasurable impact on the
lives of others should serve as an encouragement for God’s hope-filled way of
working in the world, which is more often than not invisible and
counter-cultural, Loewen said.
“Jollene’s life aptly fits the famous saying of St. Francis
of Assisi, ‘Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words,’” said Loewen.
As a faithful witness to hope, Jollene Anderson was inspired
by the light of God’s salvation, and her life will continue to give hope to
others, he said.
Loewen challenged the audience to use Jollene as a model and
to find ways to inspire hope in others throughout the Advent season and in
their everyday lives.