This past weekend, I went back to Valley Forge for Homecoming weekend. I've never been before, so I was really looking forward to it. I thought that I would have the occasion to see old college friends, and in fact, I did run into some buddies. I saw my favorite professor, now retired, who still supports my ministry each year. I talked to my cousins who are sophomores, and teased them about over-cutting chapel. I devoured my turkey grinder (previously mentioned in this blog many times). I heard about some possible missionary support from a few churches in Pennsylvania, and I watched a basketball game in the gym where I used to keep statistics for the Patriots team.

All in all, it was a very productive and enjoyable trip.

While I was there, I ruminated a bit on the difference between the Valley Forge Christian College that I went to and the college that it has become today. It's not the same school; the campus boasts state-of-the-art buildings and is now beautifully landscaped (no more condemned or collapsing buildings). There are probably three times as many majors offered now, as well as new master's programs. The sports program has expanded its status, which draws even more talented athletes. The president of the college has built an exemplary network of support for the school, resulting in improvements in every area.

In all those upgrades, the school has also changed somewhat in spirit. When I started as a freshman, the faculty all lived right on campus and formed intense bonds with students. As the school has expanded, the faculty lives elsewhere; the bonds may not be quite so easy to achieve. There were only approximately 600 students in my day, and everyone knew each other; the majors were all concentrated on various types of Christian ministry, so we were bonded to each other as well. On the run-down campus, with all its old government-issue furniture and days where the water was shut off and the overpowering heat in the dorm rooms, there was a powerful connection between the students, perhaps like a boot camp mentality, that no matter how bad things were, we were in it together and we had a unified purpose. We claimed the motto, "You gotta be called to be here," and joked that Valley Forge would prepare us for the missionfield.

While that intimacy may be gone, I still believe in Valley Forge Christian College. When I'm on campus, I see young people who are passionate about serving God, and I see professors who have sacrificed greater careers to mold the next generation of ministers, and I see an administration, headed by Dr. Meyer, that consistently raises the standard of the educational quality and the academic reputation of the school.

I am proud of the college I went to, and the college it has become.
Ariel Rainey