COVID-19 Community Update – April 6
Dear Northwest University community member,
I am writing today just to encourage you to keep the faith in these challenging times. I am especially proud of our faculty and our students as they push through distractions and fears and disappointments and anxiety to finish their coursework for the semester. Many have returned home to face very difficult circumstances. Uncertainties abound, and some of the certainties present even greater challenges. Our society has never experienced a moment quite like this one, and having to remain isolated from one another only makes it harder. Many of us have friends or family members who have contracted the disease or have lost their battle with it. The situation our students face now will very likely be the most fearsome time they will ever face. It does no good to compare the sufferings of one time or place or person with those of another. Every person's suffering is REAL, and it's all hard.
In the face of it all, these are the times our faith is built for. Many of the earliest New Testament believers suffered or even gave their lives for their testimony of faith in Christ, carrying on in faith like the hallowed heroes of the Old Testament catalogued in Hebrews 11. John the Revelator saw trouble as an essential part of Christian faith: "I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God's Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us" (Revelation 1:9). True Christian faith shines brightest in hard times, and after 60 years of suffering and setbacks—and many victories—I can say it has never failed me.
Our alma mater calls out to God in song to "lead us forth to promised victory." It does not envision easy battles along the way. But whether the events of the day bring trials or tragedies or triumphs, we do it all in view of the certain victory of the Kingdom of God. Every win in the present is a taste of final victory later. Every hardship breaks the enchantment of this world and helps us turn our eyes to the Kingdom of Heaven.
I want students and their parents and our friends to know that the faculty and staff are working very hard across our scattered campus—that is, from hundreds of homes spread throughout the Puget Sound region. Not only are we binding up this broken semester as we march on to completion, we are doing many things to keep pressing on through the summer and preparing for the Fall semester. We are confident that better times will greet us soon. I read good news today that the Bloomberg research staff claims China's economy is almost back to normal. That report comes not only from the Chinese government, but from US and European manufacturers with facilities in China. Having suffered from this virus a couple of months before it reached Kirkland, China offers a very hopeful scenario for a "V-shaped economic recovery" after we get through this time of social distancing.
While we expect that many things will change in America because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some things will change at Northwest University, I firmly believe we will never stop being "a college with the soul of a church." We will never stop being a warm community that provides students with the intellectual and professional formation that will empower them for engagement with human need. We will remain the best place in the Northwest to prepare for a lifetime of work and faith and friendship.
We can't wait to see you again soon. In the meantime, I think we should start calling it "physical distancing." You aren't really "socially distant" as long as you're in touch. So stay in touch. I'll be constantly trying to do so on Facebook, on my President's Blog, and by occasional emails like this one.
Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.
President, Northwest University