Jesus is here right now…

Four Norwegian girls blew us away in chapel today with these words sung in perfect harmony: Jesus is here right now to say He loves you.

Nearly two years ago, 28 Danielson students found out they’d been selected to attend Hillcrest Academy in Fergus Falls, Minnesota for the 2015-16 school year as part of a program that has continued between our schools for almost thirty years. There was much to do in getting these students ready for their visit to the States, not the least of which was to prepare them spiritually. Knowing that they would be far from home, far from family and friends for the better part of a year, one teacher shared this passage from Acts 17:24-27:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,cnor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.”

The shared relationship between Hillcrest Academy and the Danielson school in Bergen is a constant and vivid demonstration of the universal Body of Christ in action. Each fall, Danielson sends 25-30 students to join the junior class at HLA and every single year there is a melding of hearts that transcends barriers of language and distance. Deep and lasting friendships are forged over the the school year between the Norwegians, Americans, and other international students. When the bus full of Danielson students drives away from the Hillcrest campus the following spring, the sounds of mourning can be heard blocks away. Our common God knits us together with other believers from every nation, bringing us back to our  deepest connection in Christ, touching our hearts in ways that are hard to explain.

But one goodbye is never the end, it seems. Another truly remarkable phenomenon, is the return of former Danielson students to the frozen tundra of the midwest. This migration occurs each February when their school in Norway is on winter break. Instead of vacationing in Europe with their families on warm, sandy beaches, many of the previous Hillcrest/Danielson students choose to come back to Hillcrest and reunite with their friends in the dorms and in and around the city of Fergus Falls. This past week, ten of these beloved “alumni” made the trek. Student and staff alike were bowled over by the enthusiastic embraces of our Nordic friends as they burst back into our lives. Today, as we worshiped in chael together, the joy of being reunited was a mutual blessing, a foretaste of the glorious Kingdom to come. We are able to say with Paul of his friends in Corinth:

“I thank my God for all the memories I have of you. Every time I pray for all of you, I do it with joy...I'm convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. You have a special place in my heart…”

And, as they prepare to leave Hillcrest once again we continue to pray, “God bless the people of Norway.” We thank the Lord of heaven and earth for his Spirit that dwells in human hearts, dictating the times and borders of our days, and orchestrating divergent paths to cross for His glory. In a world that seems fraught with division and tension, we are encouraged by the faith of our Norwegian friends and the Savior who loves us all.

Gud være med deg til vi møtes igjen.

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