Gordon-Conwell Blog

XiYi Yao's Journey of Faith: New Gordon-Conwell Faculty Member

April 24, 2012

We are delighted to welcome Dr. XiYi "Kevin" Yao (pictured below with his wife) as our Associate Professor of World Christianity and Asian Studies. He recently shared how he came to faith from a completely atheistic context at his Installation. Click below to listen to his story.

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Booknotes with David Wells: Turning Back to God

April 19, 2012

Dr. David Wells sat down with us and shared his thoughts on the reissuing of his seminal book Turning Back to God and how it continues to be relevant. He also shares his thoughts on the future of evangelical Christianity in the West.

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Remembering Joshua "Jack" Hicks

April 12, 2012

It is with great sadness and grief that we remember the life of Joshua “Jack” Hicks, a beloved student and friend who passed away on Good Friday, April 6, 2012.

Through this devastating loss, we are mindful that man is but a breath, and are encouraged to place our hope in the life eternal that awaits us when the full glory of our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed.

Josh spent his last evening in this world worshiping and remembering the death of his Savior at a Good Friday service, and rejoiced on Easter morning in the arms of the risen Christ.

Our memories of Josh will forever be painted with his bright smile, joyful heart and warm music. Below, we invite you to share your stories of Josh’s life and light.

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For the longest time I didn't know Jack's name was actually Joshua. Whenever I saw the name "Joshua Hicks" I assumed that was someone else. Then finally one day we were sitting in a class where the professor required us to use name cards and he wrote "JOSHUA" in big bold letters. I was so confused. When I asked him about it he confirmed that his given name was Joshua. I asked if Jack was his middle name and he said "Nope" -- furthering my confusion. Then he said, "I just think it's the coolest name ever so I decided to tell everyone to call me that." I was like, "man....I like you." My favorite memory of Jack was probably one freezing cold night in January 2011 when Boston was getting a foot of snow seemingly every other day. I had just bought an iPad and he was all excited because he had heard about the astronomy app that tells you what stars you're looking at when you point the iPad at the sky. I, as a kindred astronomy fanatic, was excited to test it out so we took a study break one night and went outside the Great Room to see if it worked. Of course, the best place to look at stars is one that is far away from bright lights. Unfortunately, we quickly found out that the snow was impassable and we couldn't walk into any field away from the road. So we just stood in the middle of the street and looked for constellations till we were literally about to freeze to death. I'll bet he was the only person at Gordon-Conwell at the time who would have been willing to do that with me.
J Lin 12:40AM 04/21/12
Josh (I never knew he went by "Jack") was a bright and shining part of my experience at GCTS the past year. His passion for projects connecting theology, church, and the arts -- visual and musical -- was what brought us together. I never got to have him in one of my courses but he was a very important presence in my work especially with the Mockler Center. We had just agreed to get together for a good chat about alternative (to the pastorate) careers for a guy like him. His sudden departure is devastating ... but his spirit and passion will impact and inspire Gordon-Conwell and all of us who knew him for years to come. And one day .... together forever.
David W. Gill 10:16PM 04/15/12
Jack was such a beacon of light, from the first time that I met him at the Anglican Chapel, to the student dinners we used to put together for young adult fellowship and singing along with him and his guitar. He was such a warm and friendly face, always acknowledging, welcoming, hugging, greeting. He made me feel so at home at the church and when I visited Conwell's campus for lunch with friends, I often saw him and he just made me smile. His love for others was infectious and his passion to encourage and uplift was so appreciated. One of the things I think about is the "secret recipe" for meatballs that he used to bring to housewarmings and dinners. I think the secret ingredient was chocolate syrup. Last spring, when I graduated from Gordon College, I asked him to send me his address and his birth date so I could keep tabs and send birthday cards. Jokingly I said he could email, snail mail or leave a singing message on my cell phone. He left a singing message for both which I have still saved and listened to just minutes before finding out that he was Home. Praise God for allowing us this glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and this time with one of his faithful and loving servants. I still can't quite believe that Jack is gone, but I cannot imagine a more wonderful time to enter heaven: the weekend of remembering Christ's triumph over death and our welcome into grace and beautiful new life!!
Bethany 6:03PM 04/13/12
Jack was the first new person I met when I got to seminary. He always wanted to make me feel welcome and uplifted and cared for. Those things that often make a community were of utmost importance to Jack. He desired to bring people together and lift them up, whether it was through small picnics in Beverly, movie nights in the Great Room, prayer, a good conversation, a night out at Gulu Gulu, or a random song on his guitar. He cared about everyone and I feel so blessed and privileged to have known him. Jack was always full of encouragement even when he was feeling down himself. I will miss his laugh, his songs, his random emails of poetry, his love of the color green and the fact that my room at home was green (therefore we should be friends), our random conversations, his nicknames for others, and most of all his friendship here at Gordon-Conwell. Jack- Jack, you were one of a kind and you will be dearly missed my friend. :) I look forward to being reunited with you in Christ.
Amanda K. 4:48PM 04/13/12
Josh was a bright ray of sunshine that will be missed! Rest in the Lord faithful servant!
Ifeyinwa Amalu 3:11PM 04/13/12
Jack was one of the first people I met at GCTS, and we quickly became friends as we bonded over our excessive love of the color green. During the end of my first semester here I remember being super stressed out with papers and finals. I was studying in the Great Room, and Jack grabbed his guitar to play a song for me in French which immediately brought a smile to my face. Jack had gifts of music and of encouragment, which I will greatly miss. I was blessed to have him as a friend during his time with us, and I cannot wait to be reunited with him, where we can both sing at the top of our lungs forever in praise to the One who created us and has given us the gift of eternal life.
Megan N. 3:02PM 04/13/12
Last summer Josh went through a season of planning to leave GCTS and transfer to another seminary. I don't know many of the details, but my mpression was he didn't want to leave but felt as if it might be a wise move financially. When he decided not to go and to remain here at GC, we had a little party of rejoicing in my office. I told him we needed him here, that his joy and presence were now staples in the halls of GC. Thank you Jesus for giving us Josh for a season; I am so grateful to have known him.
Teal 10:10AM 04/13/12
My friendship with Jack began in the fall of 2010 while he was in the hospital for a few days recovering from allergies/asthma, and he messaged me on Facebook to say: "'Your birthday is the day before mine' - guitar solo... 'We should be friends' - drum solo "Oh Yeeeeah" - back up singers..." (We'd met briefly in person once before this.) After this, we made plans to go out with friends to celebrate our birthdays together, and we have thought of ourselves as "Twins" ever since. (The look we got from the waitress at our birthday celebration at Gulu Gulu when we told her we were twins was priceless.) Not only are we one day apart in age, but we came to define ourselves as "Twins in CHRIST" as we participated in Anglican Chapel together over the course of the 2010-2011 school year. I love the fact that I have a Twin who looks so different from me but who feels as close to me as my own brother and with whom I can worship Jesus! I will never forget the night after the Kalos coffeehouse in Fall 2010, when we hung out for a couple hours afterward getting to know each other better, talking about our lives and interests and dreams, and making music together on the piano. I remember when he looked at me and said "who ARE you?" as in "where have you been all my life and why haven't we been friends earlier"? I was coming out of a hard time in my life preceding coming to seminary, and Jack's acceptance and friendship meant a lot to me. It made me hope that the hard things in my life had not permanently damaged me, and that there was still hope for a future in which I was liberated to follow Jesus with my whole self, including my "artistic self" which Jack, as a fellow artist, connected with. I remember wrestling a lot with death ever since finding out in early December 2010 that my Grandma had terminal liver cancer. One day soon after hearing this news, I was shopping at the Christmas Bazaar in the Great Room, talking with a lady from Anglican Chapel about my grandma, and I remember Jack and Brendan Payne singing "The Sound of Silence" on the stage (they had previously been singing Christmas songs). I thought about the silence I was afraid of with my grandma's death, but who ever would have thought that I'd also lose my Twin so soon! I can be a somewhat reserved person, but I've taken to crying spontaneously when people mention Jack. At the same time, I am filled with incredible joy knowing that he is with the Lord, whom he loved and obeyed while on this earth. I am the Twin who has the harder path to walk, I think, as I embark on a life of evangelism and ministry with hopefully many decades to go before I enter the presence of the Lord. Jack had John 4:24 listed in his "basic information" section on Facebook, and I praise God that my Twin is now worshipping God in spirit and truth more fully than he was ever able to in this life.
Christina Smestad 10:05AM 04/13/12
My favorite memories of Josh were times we spontaneously would sit in the Great Room and play music, sing, and laugh together. My specific favorite memory, however, was just after he and I led worship for a conference early in the morning one Saturday. He needed a ride because his car wouldn't start because of the cold, so after the worship-leading was done, he said, "Hey, let's go get some coffee!" So I used by newly-acquired GPS to find a coffee place, and we ended up at an obsure but charming little coffee place in Salem. The place was empty when we got there, besides the barista. Josh immediately made friends with her, in the way that is so characteristically Josh, and it turned out that our barista also liked to make music. So he went back to the car and got his guitar, and he and I sat and played music and sang in that little coffee place for hours that afternoon. There are so many memories like that that I have from the past three years. I also love the memories of him playing in the dining hall during dinner our first year, standing on a chair and playing and singing "Happy Birthday" to John, with Scott singing too. Josh was one of the most welcoming, joyful people I've known, and it makes my heart happy to know that he is now experiencing the welcome and joy of the Lord.
Kristen 9:53AM 04/13/12
I didn't know Jack that well, however, he was always so helpful, kind and had a smile on his face whenever he would greet you (by name). May God bless his family during this difficult time.
Mary 8:22AM 04/13/12
Jack, still remember that just days before this tragic accident, I was half joking and half serious in saying that I would love to invite you to our home, while we treat you with a nice dinner, you can sing us a few beautiful songs. Who knows that these can be the last words I can speed to you in this side of the world. But, to the comfort of my heart, I know that you can use your talent in music and your wondrous voice to sing for HIM! See you in a "short while"!
Yuguo Victor Zheng 8:20AM 04/13/12
Had known Jack from the first day he arrived at GCTS. Always a smile and always a kind word. We shared some of his first classes as well, both of us sitting in the back row and discussing our reading, how well he was adjusting (he adjusted very well to his move here) to life in at GCTS. I looked forward to watching him walk up to get his degree, now he has the the degree we all strive for in the Glory of God. The Lord has a new angel in His midst we all have known as Jack.
K 10:58PM 04/12/12
Oh Jack, you were like a one man hospitality committee when I first arrived on campus and throughout the time that I knew you- always so welcoming, warm and genuine with everyone you encountered. Thank you for the times in our Hebrew I section that your comments and lightheartedness cheered me up more than you know, your passion to see those enslaved by trafficking become free and for your joy that was so contagious. My last memory of you was when we crossed paths in the Kerr building a few days before you went Home- you were smiling as always and we exchanged a few words of greeting before parting ways. But it wasn't forever- I know I will see you again, my brother and friend.
Lizzie 10:52PM 04/12/12
We had coffee once. I was stressed out of my mind, and Jack brought me back to the land of smiles. We have lost a great man.
Kris 9:21PM 04/12/12
What a hoot Joshua was. I always called him that - at least when I wasn't calling him "Justin." I got to know him a little last semester, when we had a warm and interesting conversation. Every rare time our paths would cross, there would be good feelings, back and forth. That is a big testimony, right there. And always smiles or laughter. He sure brought a lot of God's Presence into a situation. When I realized he was the one to whom God had declared, "Mission Finished" last week, I "felt" a flood of joy wash through me. I felt like Joshua was "saying": "I'm not sad!" Other people were sad, but I "felt" like Joshua was saying, "I (stress on that pronoun) - I'm not sad!" - with a smile and overflowing laughter. Sounds pretty in character, doesn't it. It will be fun to see him again when our "Missions" are finished. May his "passing" (He surely Passed!) encourage many to take up a bit of his "mantle."
Joy C 5:56PM 04/12/12
I bumped into Jack as I was heading home last Christmas break. He asked me where I was off to and I told him I was heading home. He signed onto Facebook a few hours later and sent me a message making sure I'd arrived safely. Jack took time to care relationally, and it meant a lot. This time he got to head home before me. And I trust the Lord that he has arrived safely. Praise be to God for you, Jack.
Jonathan 5:50PM 04/12/12
A humble student and faithful friend. He carried the odor of Christ.
Maud 5:39PM 04/12/12
I will miss Josh's happy face, and his assertion to me that we MUST be actual brother and sister because of our mutual love for the color green! I miss him, not only for that, of course, but for his ability to bring happiness into situations by bringing very little things into a place of joy. That was a gift. I will miss that, Josh. In fact, I do already.
Bonnie 5:34PM 04/12/12
What character and charisma dude! Combine kindness and an engaging personality, I will miss the moments we had playing pipes, guitars and funky instruments together in the outdoors. You were my neighbor as well, and I remember the genuine welcome I received from you when I first arrived. You have left a lasting impression of love and care for others that will not be forgotten.
Rob 5:32PM 04/12/12
It was a pleasure and privilege to talk and to pray with Josh over his time at GCTS as he sought God for direction in his life and ministry. (As a person with so many gifts, talents and interests there was a lot for Josh to sort through!) So it was a joy to have him share this spring that he felt that he was a better place in his spiritual life that he had ever been — and that he finally had peace and clarity in regard to his future. While it is absolutely heartbreaking to realize that he will not be following that direction here on earth (something we have to trust God with) I am so comforted to know that, in his own words, it was truly more well with Josh's soul than ever. — But oh, how we will miss his shining light, joy and love!!
Katherine 5:02PM 04/12/12
I wish the world were filled with more people like Jack - it makes me sad to think that the whole world feels a little less bright without the light of the the love he radiated. He was a welcoming heart and a hospitable spirit in the most profound sense. And the best part was that when he was so welcoming, you could always tell that he was expressing more than just his own kindness, but that the love of God was flowing through him to everyone around.
Amanda 5:01PM 04/12/12
Jack and I loved the arts and theatre and he always thought of me when Kalos events came up. He and I had even talked about putting on a One-Act Play at some point. I loved how he laughed and even though we didn't hang out all the time, I feel blessed that one of the last time's he sang at Gulu Gulu that I was privileged to sing with him. Miss you, Jack, but I know you are sitting at the feet of Jesus playing and singing for Him!!
Alli 4:15PM 04/12/12
What a great picture! It captures his joy and winsomeness. I love the first time I heard him from the cafeteria singing. I came in and saw him standing on a chair, playing his guitar, and leading everyone in spontaneous song.
Megan 4:07PM 04/12/12
That smile! You just looked at him and he smiled at you
Ricky 3:55PM 04/12/12
Jack leapt through life, always ready to sing a gig with his guitar as big as he was; dive into a deep conversation; laugh with his whole heart; launch off on an adventure; change the world on an issue like slavery and sex trafficking; watch or chat up a movie; raise a glass; share a soul-stirring song; or give a hug. We will miss you, Captain Jack.
Brendan 2:57PM 04/12/12
Why no comments? his former college Hamilton college's website and facebook is flooded and continues to be...He was one of the most liked, happy, turn your frown upside down kinda guy!...
Nicole 1:38PM 04/12/12

What if Christians were not afraid to look foolish from time to time?

April 10, 2012

The following is a guest post from one of our Semlink Program students, Paul Elgin. Paul is the worship leader for White Mountain United Methodist Church's contemporary service. You can contact him at elginpaul@gmail.com.

Something happened the other day that made me wonder if I take advantage of the opportunities God gives me to live a more expressive life for him.

The day did not begin well. The sun obviously was trying to make a point, because it must have risen half an hour too soon. Maybe it wanted to knock off early that evening. Whatever, I woke up with a sore throat and a generally bleak disposition. Life was definitely not the bed of roses it should be. The kids were feeling the effects, too, because getting them out of bed was no walk in the park. Someone had replaced my normally charming little girl with a creature that Tolkien would dream up when he was writing the particularly scary passages of The Two Towers. Only with more teeth.

I had about a chapter and a half of Theology to get through that morning. No quiet time with the Bible and me and God today! After shoving the kids out the car door at school, I headed to the study room at the library. When I no longer cared if it was “transcendence” or “immanence,” I closed the book, grabbed my gym bag and headed off for my favorite part of the day: the workout. I didn’t have to read, write, or do arithmetic, just pedal.

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Tags: equipping leaders for the church and society , guest post , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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We as Christians can indeed act silly at times and we should. Our loving God does not want us to live a foolish life however he is very clear about the fact that he wants us to enjoy life. We are to enjoy everything that he created and live our lives enjoying the beautiful things we have here on his created world. I think it is perfectly fine to act a little crazy at times. http://christiansupfront.org
Meet Christians 2:05PM 07/11/12

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