A prayer for place
Dedicating Berry-Peeples Bible BuildingJanuary 16, 2019 - John McCallum
Father, we praise You, for You are great and greatly to be praised. You have given
us your Son for our salvation, your Word to make Him known to us, and places in which
we learn to know Him better.
We don’t have to tell You, Father, how important “place” is to Your people. You understand. The Bible is full of places: Eden, Bethel, Moriah, Egypt, Red Sea, Sinai, wilderness, tabernacle, holy of holies, Jericho, Shilo, Jerusalem, temple, Babylon, Bethlehem, Nazareth, the sea of Galilee, Gethsemane, Golgotha, Joseph’s garden, Philippi, Ephesus, the new heaven and the new earth. Whether we’ve seen them with our own eyes or not, such places are etched into our collective memory, and things that happened in those places have shaped our lives in significant ways. Thank You for a sense of place.
Thank You for places we call home and church, church camp and campus, where we meet You in expanding ways, places where our experience with You deepens, places where You become larger in our understanding, places where we learn your story and our place in it.
Berry-Peeples Bible Building is one of those places. So what a privilege and joy it is, Father, to be in this place for this purpose today. We can only imagine the oohs and ahhs when this building first opened in 1962. And how many have walked through these halls, studied in these classrooms, consulted in these offices, and then, equipped, moved into a gospel ministry that has eternal impact on the Kingdom of God, some making an impact across the street or around our state, others flung to the far corners of the earth making disciples of all nations. We praise You for this place that draws fresh oohs and ahhs from us today.
Though students from every major will spend some time in this place learning your Word, this place is an academic home for professors and students devoted to the teaching and preaching of your Word and the leadership and worship in Your church. While they make their home, for a season, in this Berry-Peeples Bible Building, may they make their home for a lifetime in your Word. Did You not tell us to abide, to dwell, to live, to make our home in your Word?
And what a wonderful home it is! The sacred Scripture is the roof over our heads and
the floor under our feet. The Bible is both shelter in storm and haven in rest. Through
its skylight we see a vision of God. In its cabinets we find food for our souls. In
its mirrors we see ourselves for who we are. And through its windows we see the world
aright. On its walls are family photographs of those who have gone before us. On its
shelves are stories of adventure and faith, of failure and victory, and of wisdom
to live by. And because this house is God’s word, we can be sure the foundation will
never crack, never crumble, or never need repair.
May students who study in this place learn to meditate on your Word, delight in its decrees, and obey its precepts with gladness and joy. And as they leave this place to serve You in other places of your choosing, may they teach and preach in ways that will save, inspire, equip, convict, delight, encourage, heal, disciple and bring joy to all they serve, wherever they serve.
And we know, our Father, that places like this don’t just happen. You give a dream to leaders. You give wisdom to engineers and architects, and You give skilled craftsmanship to those who put it all together. You stir the hearts of donors so that resources are provided to make our faith that this could be made into the sight of what we see today.
Thank You for Ray and Bonnie Peeples and their children, and thank You for every dime, dollar and donor who chipped in a little something to make it happen. And thank You for Rex Horne and his family, whose ministry of preaching your Word is honored in this place and leveraged for the training of future preachers and teachers of the Word.
Now, please continue to make this building your home. Would You please send fresh fire and wind to fall on this place? And would You bless our gifted professors and eager students in such ways that the things You do in their lives in this place will be cherished and deployed into the world You love?
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Dr. John McCallum, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hot Springs and chair of Ouachita’s Board of Trustees, offered this prayer at the dedication service for the newly renovated Berry-Peeples Bible Building on Sept. 27, 2018.