The Outer Limits
By Bob W.
Life on campus was difficult at times. I think that is partly because the students never knew where they really stood in the eyes of the ministry and faculty and sometimes even their fellow classmates. Suspicion and uncertainty were especially hard on those students that had to struggle hard to maintain their grades and status within the student body. Not all the students that entered AC possessed such intellect that they could breeze through their classes. Most had to really slug it out, working hard for their grades and the right to rule, OOPS, I mean serve in the various congregations that they would be assigned to after graduation.
One student I remember, and he was a typical student that had to work hard for his grades, one day late in the afternoon received a call from GTA's secretary. GTA wanted to see him, and no explanation was given.
The appointment was not for several days so this gave the student considerable time to think about what he may have done to warrant a call from the executive suite in Hall of Administration. Generally students were not invited up there unless there was a problem, and more often than not a serious problem.
The simple fact is the student had done nothing wrong, you will understand in a moment, and yet this created such stress in his life that he fasted for two days and doubled his prayer time. He examined himself over and over and over again looking, searching for something he had done.
Or was it perhaps something he did not do, and the process of searching started all over again. He even had his closest friends cross examine him like he was on trial for his life. They tried to help him find his faults both obvious and secret...sounds like the book of Job doesn't it? After all the examinations they could find nothing, and this led to wild and irrational speculation. They and he concluded that he was either going to be dropped from college or be disfellowshipped for some unknown reasons.
When the appointed time came for him to go he was so emotionally stressed that he threw up violently. His physical appearance was terrible, he had lost several nights sleep and his weight dropped 10 lbs. He looked as though he had been through his worst nightmare. He collected what dignity he had left and made the journey up to GTA's office. When he walked in he was warmly greeted by a secretary which made him feel a whole lot better. He took one last deep breath, told her he had an appointment to see GTA. Then waited for the hammer to fall. There was a moments hesitation, which seemed like an eternity, as the secretary viewed GTA's schedule for the day. Oh here you are she said...there is a note for you. The student was informed that GTA was not in, WOW what a relief....She handed the student a note that had been left for him.
The immediate thought rushed through his mind, I have been dropped from college... As he read the note he began to laugh excitedly. All that GTA wanted was for the student to sign a test that he had taken and forgot to sign in class....That was one happy student that left GTA's office that day.
It is a sad commentary on the abuse of authority. While the students loved the Armstrong's, they also feared them. Now GTA could have told the student what he wanted to begin with and none of the turmoil would have taken place. Unlimited power does strange things to those that possess it, and abuse it.
Is it any wonder that the men and women that graduated and went into the ministry would treat their congregations any differently?! As one former minister put it, at AC they put me through hell, now its my turn...
I had one pastor rank minister, I always thought rank was a bad odor, any way, tell me that when he was a senior student he became so discouraged that he was planning on leaving the church after graduation. He had enough of ministers trying to beat character into him. The only thing he wanted at that time in his life was relief from the torment. Just after his graduation, the following Sabbath after services he was called to the lectern and there before the whole student body was ordained into the ministry. Prior to that moment he had no idea, not even a clue that he was going to be ordained and then sent into the field ministry.
What kind of pastor do you think he made? Unfortunately his abusive treatment during the four years at AC was passed along to the many congregations that he ruled over. But even a hard core legalist can be touched with the grace message of Jesus Christ, and so it was with him.. Which by the way he is now a strong advocate of the new grace message and preaches it constantly with enthusiasm and excitement.
And that is something all of us should do. We should preach the grace message constantly, and if necessary use words. Think about it.
Until next time may the grace of Jesus Christ abound in your lives.
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