Every college in operation today can rightfully say that the experience they provide changes the lives of their students. The question that must be asked is “in what ways does that experience change the lives of students?”
Nyack is a Christian college. At Nyack, this is more than simply a label; it is more than a classification. For us it is our identity and our mission. We seek to be academically excellent, we seek to be globally engaged, we seek to be intentionally diverse, and we seek to be socially relevant — so that we can exalt and honor Jesus Christ. We cannot honor Jesus without obeying his words.
And let us not forget, Jesus said, “Follow me.”
For us, the transformation that really matters is the transformation that occurs when our students encounter Jesus in a personal and meaningful way.
I am often asked, “What does this mean in every day terms?” “How can we know if and when our students encounter God in a personal and meaningful way?” My answer to this is simple: “We know because when a person encounters God in a meaningful way, everything is different.”
One of the most moving stories I have heard in all of my time at Nyack happened over one hundred years ago. In 1893, a young lady from Sun Prairie, WI by the name of Estella Finch graduated from what was then the Missionary Training Institute. Upon her graduation she traveled to Japan where she began her career at age 24 as a missionary. And even by the remarkable standards of missionary service in her era, her career was a most amazing career.
In 1909, Estella Finch became a Japanese citizen. To the dismay of her American friends, she even changed her name to Mitsuyo Hoshida! This act of so completely embracing the nation to which she felt called to serve enabled her to realize remarkable effectiveness in her ministry. She helped establish ministry outreaches. Her work amongst the Japanese military, which for a woman was remarkable in and of itself, was so highly regarded that she was given the title, The Mother of Yokosuka. A historical society dedicated to commemorating and preserving her memory exists in Japan to this day.
The epitaph on her tomb reads as follows, “Ah, to be like Sensei, someone who abandoned her youth, who abandoned her nationality, and who in the end abandoned even her life. It should be said of her spirit of offering peace: with it, though she is dead, she still speaks.”
Nyack seeks to exalt Jesus Christ by being personally transforming. This transformation is simply what occurs when students encounter Jesus Himself on our campus. When they do, like Hoshida Mitsuyo, they abandon their youth in favor of a maturity that comes from knowing Christ. They abandon their citizenship of a self-centered, materialistic world in favor of becoming citizens of the Kingdom of heaven. They abandon life on their terms and find life on His terms. “…and whoever loses his life for Jesus’ sake will find it.”
Nyack has influenced countless people like Mitsuyo Hoshida. And, as is noted on a gravestone on a hillside in Kugocho, Japan, these are the lives that speak long after their earthly days are over. They speak for healing. They speak for peace. They speak for the good news.
Every college in operation today can say that they change the lives of their students. This is the kind of change—the kind of transformation we seek at Nyack.