The summer holidays are fast approaching in the Netherlands. Six weeks in which the schools will be closed. A period of rest for our staff. Many of them go away on holiday for a few weeks, in the Netherlands or abroad. Last year this was almost impossible. Now the covid restrictions are easing, it is possible to travel again.
By our chairman of the board, Rens Rottier.
Looking back, this year was dominated by the corona crises. For a large part of the year our university was closed. We tried to continue the education for the students, which was possible thanks to digital means. Many lecturers have increased their digital skills. They have tried to present their lectures in the best possible ways. Sometimes it worked well, but other times we also experienced the limitations of the digital means.
The hardest thing was not being able to meet each other but having to keep a social distance. Someone said: ‘We are not created for the 1.5 meters.’ God created man not to stay away from each other, but to be in relationships with each other. A relationship means meeting, being near, looking at each other, responding to each other. Meeting physically is an important part of that. During the final few weeks before the summer holidays, the students can spend part of their time at our university again. It shows how important and motivating it is. How much joy it brings to meet each other again, to see each other, to look each other in the eye, to be together in a group again.
Many people wondered during the corona crisis: what are we going to learn from this? Are we going to change our behaviour? Or will we continue as before? Think of our ecological footprint, for instance. I am afraid there will not be much change. People are longing to go back to normal life, holidays, going out, sports, socialising. The problems in this world are increasing in many different areas. But people are reluctant to listen. They choose to live in the here and now. The Word of God needs to touch them to truly see their ways and to change. And that is our prayer: ‘Lord, at this time, make it right, a return to You.’
The corona crisis has also thrown us, as an institute, back onto our mission. What is most important in what we want to achieve? And how can we make that continue as much as possible in this corona time? What is our mission? For the university, our mission is the training and development of young people in becoming Christian teachers. And that development is first of all the development of the individual. For teaching involves your whole self. Christian teaching is not merely applying some rules and procedures or using specific teaching methods. Christian teaching is first and foremost being a Christian in word and deed. That is what gives colour to your teaching. In a very personal way, you show what really drives you, what you do it for. In that respect, a Christian teacher is an example for his or her pupils. And the teacher is a pupil of the great Teacher, Jesus. To be a good teacher you need to be a pupil yourself at the school of the great Teacher. Your relationship with Him affects your relationship with your pupils and students. Then it is not about you, the teacher. And not primarily about achievements and learning results, but about teaching children in the way of the Bible, showing them the way to Jesus. Praying with and for them, that they may know Him and become His pupil.
Corona has made the world even more complicated than it was. And less safe. Media are causing confusion; social media catch our attention. The contradictions between the great powers in this world are increasing. We often hear of extremist violence that costs many lives. And it is this world in which we may do our work in our Christian schools. It is so important, at this time in particular, to be able to show our pupils and students a way that is in contrast to this world. A way of faith and peace and rest. A way that has an everlasting future. May God bless that work at our schools to grant children and young people that rest.