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Learning to let go: An Evangel parent testimony

April 8, 2013 | William Richardson

It had been a long journey. Overwhelming at times. Ian was our first child, so it was a new experience for us.

Ian felt he wanted to major in music with a minor in film. He began his search for the right college, scanning numerous websites. At first, he explored the programs at colleges within our state. Then institutions that were located further away, in other states. After more careful thinking and prayer, he felt he wanted to attend an Assemblies of God college. When he looked into the film program at Evangel, Ian knew he wanted to visit the campus and find out more.

We came down from Iowa to visit Evangel. That weekend, we toured the campus, visited a financial aid representative, and Ian spent the night in one of the dorms. Everyone was so helpful and positive. After we left the campus, Ian felt drawn back to it.

He applied to be a student. Filling out the application forms was easy. He pursued some scholarships. Every contact with the school encouraged us. Week after week, everything fell into place. We visited the campus again on a special weekend.

Before we knew it, the summer had passed. Evangel orientation week arrived. We especially liked the Chapel service that Sunday morning. When it was time for us to say “Goodbye,” and leave him on campus, Deb’s motherly instinct told her not to be the one who walked away. She asked Ian to enter the dorm before we went to the car. We drove away from the Evangel campus both sad and happy. We felt assured, not only that God held Ian’s future in His hands, but that He would shape that future in so many good ways at Evangel.

What we didn’t realize at the beginning of the process was how easily Ian would adapt. He and his roommate were very compatible. He adjusted well to the routine and to the more spontaneous aspects of college life. We couldn’t have anticipated how much we would be at peace with our son being there at Evangel.

The most difficult part was no longer having our child under our roof. But although he’s six hours away, it’s helped to be able to Skype with him on any day. Skype helped us, especially in his freshman year, to be able to see him and see how well he was doing. It especially encouraged us to hear his excitement for the different new experiences he was having.

The most fulfilling part of the journey has been seeing Ian’s spiritual growth. Through his emails, our Skype conversations, his Facebook posts, and his student blog, we’ve seen a spiritually vibrant Ian emerge. Perhaps our greatest excitement is seeing, as he delves into the classes for his major and as he prepares for a summer internship, that he knows in the depth of his heart he’s using the gifts God has given him and that he’s excited about what God has ahead for him.

Our advice to parents of prospective students would be to not stop praying for your child. Not only to pray for them every step of the process, and every day they spend getting their education, but also for the people around them who are becoming a part of their lives. And we would urge other parents not to think of the experience as you losing your child, but rather as you allowing them to become the person God most wants them to be.

William Richardson is pastor of Afton Assembly of God in Afton, Iowa. His son, Ian, is now a junior at Evangel University. Read Ian’s companion piece, Seven things your student wants you to know about the college-admissions process.

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