“So why are you at Regent College? What made you come from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Vancouver, British Columbia?”
On Wednesday this past week my wife Meg and I flew across North America, and by early afternoon had landed in Vancouver. After a taxi ride to the University of British Columbia, I spent the rest of the afternoon talking with Gustavo Santos, a student at Regent who has been asked to serve as my teaching assistant.
Vocation as Common Grace for the Common Good— not a surprise for anyone who knows me, for anyone who follows the work of the Washington Institute. Though many words have been used, and though there are other ways to explain our reason for being, those few words say it simply and clearly. And so that is the name of the course I am teaching here too.
Why has he come? What is it that draws someone from Brazil to Canada for three years of study? After his university years in Sao Paulo, he worked for Deloitte Consulting, learning the work of the marketplace in Brazil, and around the world. But through that time he was increasingly intrigued by the meaning of what he believed about the most important things for what he did with his life; as he put it, “I wanted to understand what my faith meant for my work, and for the world of work.” And because he had a number of friends who had studied at Regent, he was drawn to its unique-in-the-world vision of learning. Not a seminary, but a place that takes theological insight with great seriousness, creating a curriculum that has as its passion equipping people to understand the Word of God for the world made by God— especially for those whose vocations are in the marketplaces of the world.
After our conversation, I was lingering in the Regent bookstore, and two young people walked up to me, wondering if I was “Steven Garber”? And we talked for a while about them, about their coming from Malaysia and Hong Kong to study at Regent, and how on earth they knew anything about me!? But they had read some of what I have written, and had seen the course advertised, hoping that we could find a way to talk more fully during the week. Of course I was delighted to meet them, and of course we will talk.
And the class hasn’t even begun… but this is why I have come— not only to teach a class for three hours each morning, Monday through Friday, but to know the students who have come from all over the world wanting to learn about things that matter most. For Gustavo and his wife, that literally meant selling everything they had, living very simply in this very expensive city, spending good years of their lives for the sake of the rest of their lives, and for the life of the world.
For most of my life, I have honored Regent’s vision, learning from afar from its faculty, listening to its students as I have met them all over the world, more than interested in its hopes and dreams. So to enter into its life for a week is a gift to me, and I pray, will be a gift to those whom I teach.