The president of Yellowstone Baptist College has been refusing to allow dialogue on campus. Despite numerous requests from stop organizer Emil Pohlig to come to some sort of agreement, he was steadfast in his stance: we were not welcome.
This is not something new, we are too familiar with rejection. It is especially painful when such rejection comes from Christians--those who follow Christ, the one who spread His arms so wide open the political and religious authorities had him executed. Today was no different. With winds blowing at 20mph, rain pouring from the cloudy sky, and mud spraying up from cars driving by, we walked from our bus to the entrance of the college.
"Welcome to Montana, I guess this is just what you're up against," the president said as he greeted us at the front gates. Emil asked him to reconsider: we would really appreciate some time on campus to talk with him and students. He refused. Jillian asked if he we could simply join with them in worship, to get out of the cold and the rain. He again refused. "I wish the weather was better for you, but you cannot come in."
I was floored. I tried to imagine standing on the sidewalk with Jesus. Cold, windworn, soaking wet, tired, rejected. What would he have to say to me? "No you cannot rest." "No you cannot worship." "No I will not shelter you." "No I will not feed you." Somehow I doubt it. I imagine Jesus standing there, "Come in my child, for you are tired and cold. Come in and find rest in me. Come in and talk with me. Come in and share your life with me." As the president turned his back and walked away, I was distraught at the sad state of affairs.
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. ... I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.We stayed outside the college for six hours today, holding lilies of peace and Bible verses which we were drawn to. I tried for the life of me to remember a particular verse from Mr. McKinnon's sixth grade Sunday school class and I could remember most of the memory verses except for the one I wanted. I eventually settled on Romans 13:10 "[And whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule; 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'] Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Every Christian can probably quote verses about loving your neighbor, but I find this verse particularly helpful because it outlines a specific character of love: that it does no harm to its neighbor.
Matt 25:42-43, 45
When I woke up this morning, I finally remembered the verse I'd been thinking of:
1 Timothy 4:12 "Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young; but set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."
It was a long day, it was a cold day. But I and the other riders set an example for believers. In speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. And thus, it was a good day.