Return Visit Reflections from Rev. Sam Schreiner

It wasn't easy getting a visa to return to Pakistan. My passport was held by the consulate in New York for three months until suddenly, right before Thanksgiving, it arrived in the mail. Board member Steve Shabet and I booked our tickets and took off. Returning to Forman was like seeing a grown niece or nephew who you only remember meeting years ago as a child at a family reunion. The transformation from infancy to adulthood can be stunning. This is a bit of what I experienced as I returned to Forman; I recognized the place, but it had blossomed into so much more. 

First, I was struck by all the people I met. The students were eager, bright, interesting and gathered in intense conversations all over campus. Forman now has double the number of students they had when I visited in 2007. These students know that they receive a life changing opportunity when they are admitted to Forman. They make the most of their good fortune by attending classes, joining clubs, participating in sports, going to Bible studies or just hanging out on the quad. There are also more teachers, many of whom are the leaders in their field in Pakistan. Why are they teaching at Forman? They love the inter-faith harmony and mutual respect found on our campus. For Christians, there is much greater respect and freedom to practice their faith than they would experience in society in general. I received the distinct impression that the teachers love to teach and the students love to learn. Forman is regaining its reputation as a premier institution to attend if you are preparing for a lifetime of leadership. 

Also in evidence are the many projects underway. Mercy Health Center has a second floor being added. Light of Hope Elementary School, for children of the workers, has expanded to 3 floors. It will grow to a full 10-year program whose graduates can apply to Forman’s Intermediate program. Griswold Hall’s renovation was just completed and work was gearing up for the refurbishing of Velte Hall. These 1940s hostels are outdated and need all of their mechanicals replaced. Revised floor plans create 50% more beds in each dorm. The quad has new Science and Business buildings, both added after 2007. Yet even with this rapid expansion of facilities, more are needed. The library is old and inadequate. There is no student center for meeting space, dining and other necessary student services. 

While areas of need were visible, so was the joy for how far the college has come. From the Christians who worked throughout the dark days of nationalization to get the college back into church hands, to the Muslim faculty member who told me the Presbyterians are welcome because, “they really knew how to educate,” there was joy that Forman is back on track. Offices were decorated for Christmas with more religious displays than you would see in the US. Students are leading chapel services again at Forman. This school has gone from rebirth to fully flowering maturity in 12 short years and I can’t wait to see it reach its potential as God blesses it in the days ahead. 

With thanks and joy, 

Rev. Samuel Schreiner III 
Executive Director Friends of Forman Christian College




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Posted: 5/9/2017