It was with family, said Tabor College president Larry Nikkel, that everyone gathered to celebrate the reason of existence: preparing people for a life of learning, work and service for Christ and his kingdom.
The mission of Tabor was fulfilled as 130 prepared students participated in commencement exercises Saturday, May 22.
For the second consecutive year, the Professor Fran Jabara Leadership Award was given. Matt Bauer, Kelowna, B.C., and Tamara Carlson, McPherson, received a cash award and plaque in honor of their leadership skills, demonstrated not only during their time as Tabor College students, but for their potential leadership capabilities.
After the presentation of the leadership award, Tabor College Hillsboro senior class representative Richard Chandler, Houston, Texas, delivered his senior address.
Chandler encouraged his classmates to do three things: acknowledge God, ask for God’s direction and trust God.
“Acknowledging God means to admit that God exists in my life, that God is real in my life and that God is the truth. If we want to do anything in our lifetimes, we must first acknowledge that God has full control over our lives.”
Followed by an anthem provided by the Tabor College Concert Choir, the second Tabor College Wichita senior class representative, Robert Childs, London, England, delivered his address.
The emphasis of his speech wasn’t about the graduating students, he said, but rather about the staff and faculty of Tabor College Wichita.
“Two things make up a great school,” said Childs. “I think it’s the students and the staff that work there. TCW has great staff. It was the thing that made me want to go (to TCW) in the first place.”
Brent Warkentin, pastor of Buhler Mennonite Brethren Church, then delivered the commencement address.
When the Egyptians decided to come after the Israelites, he said, God performed an amazing miracle. “The Red Sea was parted and the Israelites walked across, and when the Egyptians chased them, they got swallowed up by the waters that came crashing in.”
God wanted the Israelites to go straight to the promised land, Warkentin said, but they disobeyed God and didn’t trust him. So they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and at the time Moses died and Joshua took over, the Israelites were ready to enter.
“The only problem is that they’re on the east side of the Jordan River and the promised land is on the west side. Now the Israelites could have gone around the river,” said Warkentin, “but that wasn’t God’s plan. The instructions were for the priests to lead and step right into the water, and the promise was that when their feet got wet, the waters would part.”
Out of that biblical account, Warkentin had three lessons: the right way may not always be the easiest way, take a risk and do something crazy for God and ask God to show you your promised land.
“The easiest way (for the Israelites) was to walk around the Jordan. That was the no-faith, no-risk, no-trust way. The hard way was the right way. Every day we’re faced with this in our jobs, our responsibilities and our relationships-to choose the hard way or the easy way. We want the path of least resistance,” he said, “but I’m telling you, God will always call you to the right way, even if it’s not the easy way.
“God is at his best when we step out in faith. God wants us to change our world, but he finds it a lot easier to do that when we’re willing to step out into the water, when we’re willing to take some risks. It’ll change your life.”