God is Good in All Circumstances E

rskine College and Theological Seminary honored graduating students May 4 during a morning celebration under the towers of the Erskine Building. A high- light of the ceremony was an address by Erskine Seminary graduate Dr. Andrew

Brunson, a pastor and missionary who came to the attention of the media when he was imprisoned in Turkey for two years beginning in 2016. Brunson began by honoring the Associate Reformed Presbyterian denomination in which he was brought up and expressing thanks for the prayer support he received during his incarceration. “It was a wave of prayer that brought me out of Turkey,” he said.

The former captive, who was falsely accused of aiding terrorism, among other

charges, said that although he had been threatened before, and had even been shot at, he was not prepared for prison. “Prison was beyond me,” he said. “Prison tested my love for God. I broke badly. I was suicidal.” Happy to be out of prison and reunited with his wife and family, Brunson neverthe- less told his audience, “Something I miss about prison is how it made me cling to God. There was a rare clarity about what really matters. I miss being so completely depen- dent upon God.” Declaring the truth that “God is good in all circumstances,” Brunson expressed his

 Out of his own experience, Brunson challenged the graduates, asking them, “Will you say God is true and just when there is a hostile environment?” and went on to warn them, “If you stand for Jesus, you will be marginalized, looked down on.” He cited a “clarifying moment” when he was being moved to a high-security prison, passing close to his home in Izmir and knowing he faced the threat of life imprison- ment. Brunson looked out and saw a man driving a car, oblivious to his presence, and realized that on that crowded road in Turkey that day, “I was likely the only one who knew Jesus Christ.”       would pursue God even in my weakness,” he said. As he was “climbing up out of brokenness,” he wrote a song, “Worthy of My All,” and began singing it every day in prison. He read for his audience from the fourth stanza of the song: “I want to be found worthy to stand before you on that day/With no regrets from cowardice, things left

undone/To hear you say, ‘Well done, my faithful friend, now enter your reward’/ Jesus, my Joy, you are the prize I’m run- ning for.”

“If you make pursuit of Jesus the goal of your life, even if you have hardships, you will have no regrets,” Brunson said. Erskine President Dr. Robert E. Gus-

tafson, Jr. welcomed family members and guests. Board of Trustees Chairman Jill E. Gazzaway brought greetings from the board, urging the graduates to “Stop—       - edge those who helped you get here,” to “Look at the people God has placed in your life,” and to “Listen for the still, small voice of the Lord.”

The commencement speaker was in-

troduced by the college senior with the highest grade point average, summa cum laude graduate Rachel Gayle Berkey of Myrtle Beach, S.C., a business adminis- tration major and member of the Wom- en’s Tennis Team. She received this year’s prestigious Murphy-Osborne Scholar- Athlete Award from Conference Caroli- nas, recognizing her as the outstanding scholar-athlete in the conference. College awards announced during the commencement exercises by Provost of the College Dr. Thomas Hellams in- cluded two faculty awards—the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Uni- versities Excellence in Teaching Award,

Glorifying God as a Christian Academic Community 22 The Associate Reformed Presbyterian

Erskine College & Seminary

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