When Pastor Kevin Foss walked on stage last month he was unaware of the cancer in his body. His message outlining the four pillars of the National Honor Society (NHS) at the NHS induction ceremony called students to build four walls of faith. Kevin's words are resonating in the strength of Christ, something students are witnessing in the aftermath of Pastor Foss' recent surgery and road of cancer treatments he is facing.
After outlining the defining modes of an NHS student, Kevin took the pillars of scholarship, leadership, character, and service and gave definition to show their ultimate purpose. He started by highlighting Mr. Undseth's call to students in hiding Scripture in their hearts through weekly Bible memory assignments. From that point, Kevin's message took a decisive turn away from a man-made idea of setting-up pillars to a Biblical vision of building a fortified structure to house faith.
Kevin told students, with 21 inductees to Hillcrest's NHS sitting behind him, that they will walk into places where Christianity is seen as indefensible. This idea seems foreign to some students in the audience, but Kevin revealed that Scripture says many will harden hearts to the logic and reason of a Biblical explanation. Kevin's words foreshadowed a difficult road he and his family walk down with cancer treatments, where some will show Kevin's cancer a proof that God doesn't exist. But through habits of hiding Scripture in his heart, Kevin revealed in Facebook posts this week that in the dark recesses of doubt there can be a light that shines true. This message of setting a faith-structure founded on Scripture, strong enough for difficult times and doubting, is a cornerstone of faith formation for Hillcrest students to build on.
Moving to his second point, Kevin grew decisive in his presentation. With his right hand pointing to the podium in every powerful statement, Kevin continued, "Make sure your expectations are straight." He encouraged students to remember that many students they meet in college have not had a Hillcrest-style training. Kevin highlighted the reason and logic built upon a Biblically-based perspective of the world that is taught in Hillcrest. His encouragement called students to prepare their minds for the difficult days they have ahead of them. His reference to the Christ-focus of Hillcrest urged students to build a structure that reflected that students knew challenges were coming. The roof of Kevin's faith-structure message was being crafted.
"There are answers to many questions, and the questions others have," Kevin continued. He started crafting a reinforcement for faith that would not only stand the test of time, but would be a deep foundation that is continually worked on. Kevin called students to think through who is working with them in working out their faith. He highlighted the local church, and as a local pastor he called students to get plugged in to a faith community. Kevin's words are desperately important, and foreshadowed his final point while also casting light on a path he is walking now. Prayers for the Foss family are coming from a host of local churches, joining churches around the United States, where Kevin and his family have built deep roots. Kevin is living the message he gave to students.
Kevin's message closed with the finishing touches on his figurative faith house, showing students that opposition is not a curse. Kevin called students to see that difficult times are not debilitating, but can be an opportunity. Through living life together, Kevin noted that friends following Christ can counsel through difficult times. The final walls of the faith house are set in Christ, reinforced through good habits that build a faith prepared for difficult times. Kevin worked to show students that tough times may tatter faith and cause a few pieces of the structure to get damaged or jostled. But Kevin noted that these difficult times are an opportunity to reinforce areas of belief that may have been overlooked. For Kevin, his time dealing with cancer has brought renewing times in Scripture, evident through his postings on social media.
As Kevin closed his message he likely didn't understand that moving beyond scholarship, leadership, character and service was monumental for students who are now watching a living sermon. Kevin's family is clinging tightly to Christ, resting in a faith built by the Holy Spirit, reinforced through life-shaping habits that are strong enough for difficult and uncertain times. The encore of his message is a walk through uncertainty in treating cancer, a reflection of a message he gave to students during the NHS induction that calls students to know Jesus, rest in His work, and make Him known by living a purposed life prepared for difficult times.