President's Perspective

President's Perspective

A Redemptive Response to the Coronavirus Crisis

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Blanchard Hall Staircase


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Dr. Philip Ryken '88

Wheaton College President

As he surveyed the death and destruction that followed the Second World War, Cambridge historian Herbert Butterfield observed that sometimes the “sheer grimness of suffering” brings us “into a profounder understanding of human destiny.”

These wise words transcend generations, as we too have witnessed a world of woe in the wake of COVID-19. Much was lost as the coronavirus made its deadly spread around the globe. We saw refrigerator trucks back up to hospital loading docks to serve as makeshift morgues and witnessed the distress of family members huddled around smartphones for a hurried farewell with dying loved ones. We counted the financial cost too, wondering how to make ends meet and praying for friends and family members who have lost work. We continue to worry about communities across the country and around the world where the burdens of the pandemic fall disproportionately hard— only one of many injustices during a year when we have also witnessed appalling violence against people of color.

These painful experiences of human suffering compel us to confront our mortality, our complacency, our vulnerability.

But Professor Butterfield also noted something else he had learned from history: gifted leaders who rely on God “may not only redeem catastrophe but turn it into a grand creative moment.”

This is our hope for the gifted Christian women and men who graduate every year from Wheaton College. We pray they will provide godly leadership that responds to injustice and redeems catastrophes by seeing creative opportunities for Christ to build his kingdom.

By the grace of God, Wheaton students and alumni are ready to meet the needs in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The world needs compassionate missionaries and relief workers who share and show the love of Jesus. We need health professionals who risk their lives to care for people with deadly diseases. We need shrewd marketplace leaders who retain their workforce through sustainable business. We need pastors and counselors who feed and nurture hungry, desperate souls.

And so—now, more than ever—we sustain and defend the mission of our beloved Wheaton College as a Christian liberal arts college where students live, study, work, play, and worship in close community—a community ready to respond to any and every crisis by trusting in Christ and offering his healing, reconciling hope to the world.

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