As we near exams and the end of our time here in Strasbourg, I thought I'd reflect a bit on what an incredible privilege it's been to direct the program this year. Traveling with my daughters throughout the Alsace region in France, eating spaghetti eis in Germany (a must if you've never had it - I think we actually got the Ashcrofts hooked on it this year), climbing the Eiffel Tower, and visiting relatives in Switzerland, were certainly highlights.
And studying in the shadow of the European Court of Human Rights and Council of Europe also brought greater understanding and perspective to our daily discussions with students concerning important comparative law and human rights topics. But what has made Strasbourg particularly special this year has been the opportunity to really get to know our students! I've enjoyed hearing about and meeting their families, listening to their thoughts on global justice, sharing travel stories over lunch or while bumping into them downtown, and talking about their hopes and dreams for the future. I'm encouraged by their love for the Lord and passion for making a difference.
"Spiritual Vitality" has been an important topic of discussion at Regent for the past year or so, and this year's Strasbourg trip provided some perspective and reminders for me. Although designing programs, encouraging chapel and church attendance, and developing metrics are important, we can never forget to simply be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of our students by spending time with them and then joining them where God is already at work. One of the defining experiences for this year's program - our weekly Bible study through the book of James - started in the hearts of a few of our students and grew into an incredible time of encouragement, learning, and fellowship.
A few students approached me the second day of class because they were interested in getting together for Bible Study during the week. This student-led initiative began among a group of students who meet regularly for Bible Study with Profs Rehn and DeGroff back at school. I had been thinking that morning about offering to lead a study this year, but with Prof. Rehn lined up by the students already I thought perhaps I should just host in the spacious apartment provided for the director of the program. Little did we know that the study would average over 20 students each week (topping out one week at 27 with family members).
A little more perspective: it's over a mile walk for the students to get to our apartment and two of the weeks it was POURING rain - but those were the best attended weeks. Students held each other accountable, invited French acquaintances, and always came excited to hear from God. Ice cream finished off the evenings - but it was our time in James and praying for each other that brought together the corps group of students for this year's Strasbourg program. What an amazing blessing to see God at work in our students' lives. And what an awesome opportunity for my teenage girls to join in the discussions and learn to serve others each week.
Well...a few exams and our students will be headed back home. Please continue to pray for their safety and that He who began a good work in them will continue it this fall. Looking forward to getting back to the rest of my family and starting off another great semester!
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