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Philip Yancey Returns to CIU

May 07, 2014

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer

Best-selling author and 1970 Columbia International University alumnus Philip Yancey often recounts tales of his time at CIU: how he met his wife, Janet; how his fellow students went on to do powerful ministry around the world; and even how he began a relationship with God during his time at CIU. 

Yancey returned to CIU on May 1 and 2 to meet with students and to celebrate the school’s 90th anniversary with a banquet at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia.  The banquet was held in conjunction with “Forward in Faith,” a $36 million fundraising campaign for the development of CIU.  There were more than 350 people in attendance, including CIU students, faculty, and alumni, as well as members of the general public.

Yancey is known for writing openly about difficult topics in the Christian faith.  He has authored more than 20 books, including “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” and “Where’s God When It Hurts?” His message at the banquet — which he introduced as “Seasons of the Soul” —addressed a few of these difficult questions.  He encouraged his audience to pursue God in every season and circumstance.

“The springtime of the soul is the new life [in Christ] which we’ve all tasted,” he explained. “I had that as a student at CIU.”

Yancey went on to speak of the “summers” of life, when ministry is fruitful and the world is in bloom; the autumns, when it’s hard to hang onto hope; and the winters, which hold the most difficult life circumstances.

“If you’re upset with the evil on this planet, I assure you God is far more upset,” he said.  “If you’re grieved by the hurt on this planet, I can assure you God is far more grieved, and He’s going to do something about it.”

Throughout the banquet, Yancey also praised CIU for preparing students who impact the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Wherever I go, I see the effects of this school,” he said, recounting his interactions with CIU alumni who minister around the world.

Yancey also took time to meet with current CIU students for a Q&A session.  He addressed topics such as engaging secular culture and the spread of the gospel, while also taking time to answer individual students’ questions.

“Our God wants to see that no one misses His grace,” he told students. “In the gospels, Jesus raises the ideals so high that no one could ever make it.  But in the same passage, He gives grace so low no one could fall beneath it.”

The message Yancey brought to CIU was both challenging and encouraging: believers should seek God wholeheartedly in every circumstance, while shining brightly to the world around them.

“We’re told to show a different way of being human,” Yancey said. “We don’t have to respond [to opposition] with hatred and animosity.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God.”