Fortress of Faith
A Mighty Fortress of Faith
Delivered during the Founders Day Sunrise Worship, 28 August 2011
Ben S. Malayang III, President
TEXT: Psalm 18: 1-2: “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
We come to this place this early morning to face a rising sun. But as we behold the breaking of dawn, we recall the many dawns past when Silliman University, in this same place, had stood firm and stood still as it faced many bright and dark sunrises, many times of serene and severe seas, times of clear and cloudy skies, and times of gentle and howling winds.
The fortunes and fate of the university kept changing, but not its faith. Its faith on Jesus Christ kept its foundations strong. Its faith on a loving and living God kept its future planted securely across the years.
The faith of our forebears built up what this University is today. Their faith shaped a university that celebrates being able to probe the deep intricacies of creation, yet also worships the Creator. Silliman is a university that celebrates learning, yet also keeps praying and healing, and where learning about creation is a celebration and worship ofthe Creator.
We seek in Silliman to hold on to the same faith today, to remind ourselves that only by faith will God continue to be the rock and fortress of Silliman.
We must recall that it was faith that an otherwise comfortable and wealthy person was moved to set aside a huge personal fortune to found Silliman. It was by faith that Dr. Hibbard, joined by Mrs. Hibbard, saw an institution of both learning and of worship rising out of an otherwise ordinary shoreline of palm trees. It was by faith that two Malahay brothers embraced the Gospel of Christ and then spread the reach of Silliman beyond Dumaguete. It was by faith that Dr. Langheim, joined by Mrs. Langheim, would found a healing ministry within Silliman. It was by faith that Dr. Paul Doltz, joined by Mrs. Doltz, would formally organize a church as a central presence in the campus.
It was because of faith that many Filipinos responded to the mission and ministry of Silliman. It was by faith and because of their faith that despite difficulties, they strengthened the foundations of the university. There are too many to mention, but many names resonate in our recollections. There are the Gaudiels, the Dimayas, Paralejases, the Utzurrums, the Magdamos, the Bernardezes, the Banogons, Luagues and Layagues, Bokingos, Dulombals, Pals, the Demerres, Taykos, Estacions, the Floreses, the Magbanuas, the Arquizas, the Gregorios, the Imperials, the Velascos, the Tabasuareses, the Tiempos, the Rodriguezes, the Pias, the Reyeses, the Rabors, the Aldecoas, the Alcalas, the Romeros, the Tugades, the Udarbes, the Cimafrancas, the Pineros, the Garcias, Florendos, Zerrudos, Durans, Severin os, Generals, Adrianos, De Leons, Escardas, Ratertas, Ramachos, Magtolises, Yaps, Dys and Amatongs, Somozas, Fontelos, Ygnalagas, Villanuevas, Horrilenos, Corteses, Koppins, Ebarles, Timbrevillas, and many, many more known to God and equally distinguished for their dedication to build the ramparts of Silliman.
The mighty fortress of Silliman is built up of small mustard seeds of faith, tiny kernels and small pebbles of faith which, because they were forged together into a common purpose of education, worship and healing, had become a mighty fortification of great strength, to make the university persist on its mission and ministry in the best and worst of times.
We can fail and indeed many times we had failed and had fallen. We continue to be short of many peoples' expectations, even including our own. But our God sees us through despite our failures and shortcomings. God is there, real and true, always to be our rock, our refuge, and our strength.
What it would take – all it takes – is faith. For it is faith, even if as small as a mustard seed, that allows for God to be a mighty fortress for Silliman.