In a February guest lecture to Christian graduate students at Baylor, Calvin University professor David Smith suggested that one of the best ways to stimulate Christ animated learning is to visit another culture. I could not agree more.
I recently completed a trip to Australia to study emerging (within the past three decades) Christian colleges, university colleges, and universities. Australia was the only continent on which the first universities began as secular. Furthermore, it did not have a Christian university until 1991. Now, it has eight institutions (6 Protestant and 2 Catholic). In fact, Australian Catholic University is now the largest Catholic university in the English-speaking world.
What I found inspiring about this recent growth is that it is occurring in a post-Christian culture where the government and professional entities are not always sympathetic to Christian education. Yet, through God’s help and winsome effort, I found new and inspiring institutional creativity occurring even in the midst of this environment. It reminds me that Christians who confine their gaze to America and then despair about Christianity’s declining cultural influence often fail to see unique ways that creative and redemptive work can still move forward. Visiting other cultures gives us the ability to see with different eyes.