(Part 5 of 5)
Around HBU’s campus, it’s common to see students poring over a Bible or devotional book, or having coffee with a discipleship partner. The faith component of HBU allows the student experience to be truly complete.
University associate minister, Saleim Kahleh, doesn’t underestimate the importance of a spiritual education. “We desire for students to see growth in all areas of their lives – especially spiritually,” he said. “Knowing that our spirits will live forever, and because we love our students, our hope and our prayer is that every student will know Jesus. When we know Christ, we become alive to God. At HBU, students have opportunities to encounter Christ and His love for them, as well as discover that the Lord can be real to them every day of their lives. That is one reason why I love HBU so much.”
HBU Spiritual Life is integrated into each aspect of the University, from GO Orientations, to Welcome Days, weekly events, concerts, retreats and commencement ceremonies. Events like Convocation, a campus-wide chapel service that meets twice per week, provides community worship and encourages spiritual formation and development. Impactful speakers are selected for their ability to connect with students and to challenge them to become productive citizens for the Kingdom of God. Participation in these activities contributes toward students’ required Community Life and Worship (CLW) credits. Additionally, students learn through three Christianity/Bible courses, a University academic requirement.
Much of the University’s spiritual activities fall under the umbrella of Kaleo, an initiative made possible through a grant given by Terry and Doris Looper in 2015. Kaleo, which means “to call” in Greek, is instrumental in providing real-life application for spiritual concepts. Colette Cross, HBU director of Discipleship, said, “When we received the grant, the purpose was to infuse discipleship into each part of who we are and what we do as a University. Our goal is to provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff to know the Lord on a personal basis, and to understand who Christ is in their lives, as well as know what it means to walk in faith with the Lord.”
Means for student growth include discipling partnerships with faculty and staff members, Bible studies, small groups, concerts, community worship, volunteer service opportunities and mission learning trips. “We want to make sure that all who come to HBU will hear about the Gospel and the relationship with Christ that one can have,” Cross said.
The faith component of HBU has been inseparable from student Jonathan Rangel’s college experience. “I’ve been a leader for the Baptist Student Ministry and helped start our first-ever Spanish Bible study, ‘Profundo,’ at HBU. Thanks to the Spiritual Life department, I was able to travel to Israel through Passages. I will now be interning in Jerusalem for the entire summer of 2018,” he said. “At HBU, you’re not only attending a Christian campus, but you are being fed spiritually, and you have amazing professors, staff and classmates who care about your future. The Kaleo discipleship opportunities help us learn our call for ministry, show us how to live like Christ, and also how to share the Gospel with others.”
Knowing one’s life calling, or “clarity of call,” is a vital part of what Spiritual Life helps provide. “We want to solidify that clarity of call that students have on their lives and provide really solid citizens who graduate and who make good decisions based on their faith,” Cross said. “That call could be as a banker or an artist; whatever it is, we know that our common thread is Christ.”
Cross and Kahleh emphasize, too, that people of all faiths or of no faith are also welcome at HBU. “We pray that, while they’re here, the Christian faith becomes a deeply ingrained part of students’ lives so they’re equipped to step out into the world,” Kahleh said. “I see from the HBU mission statement to the heart of our president, Dr. Sloan, that Jesus is Lord at HBU. Not everyone becomes a Christ-follower, but there is definitely opportunity. Here, you have the freedom to follow the Lord. It’s so rewarding to see what God has done and continues to do at HBU.”