Note: This essay was written by my daughter, Melissa Provines, and printed here with her permission.
Integrating faith and learning in the classroom is a matter that greatly stands out to me. Thus far, in my college experience, only a couple of my professors have bluntly integrated faith and learning in the classroom. Then again, how much can you really incorporate God into a math lesson? That is when I believe that a deeper meaning of integrating faith and learning comes into play. To me, working hard on a non-religious problem is a form of worship. When we solve problems, we better ourselves. Though it may not technically be spiritual, God wants us to be the best that we can be during our time here on Earth, all the while keeping Him in our hearts.
In Ezekial 40:2 through 42:20, God showed Ezekial a vision in which a man measured the temple in all its details- the temple of the future Israel. This story from the Bible is only one of the many ways in which God showed the significance of math skills. All skills we use today including Social Studies, Language Arts and English, Science and Mathematics, and Fine Arts and Health are incorporated throughout the Bible; showing how significant these skills were at that point in time. If they were so important then, why can’t they be as important now? God gave praise to the men who used these skills and I believe He will give praise to us as well when using the same skills. Jenna Butner, a senior student at OBU, had this to say about her personal experience with the integration of faith and learning in her studies, “As a Science major, my faith and learning has been deepened in more ways than I could have imagined due to the integration of faith and learning. Almost daily, I learn a new fact about the environment, human body, or cell cycle that supports the idea of our Divine Creator.” Even though Jenna is a Science major, she is able to tie God in with her studies because she recognizes the fact that without Him, the information she learns in her studies would have never come to be.
In my classes that have integrated faith and learning, they have done so by means of praying, writing reports over Christian books, or simply by not being afraid to have open discussions about God. I realize that I have a few more years ahead of me to experience more integration in college, but what I have experienced so far has been more than what I have ever known, having grown up attending public schools. For that, I am grateful. I do believe that more integration is possible though. I would like to see a prayer said before each of my classes. For me, praying before a class is very uplifting. Even sharing a daily scripture from the Bible would be an improvement. The fact that some of my classes are not religion based should not be an excuse to conceal God from a Christian campus. Cara Cliburn is a student at Oklahoma Baptist University and she shared with me her opinion about whether she is satisfied with the integration of faith and learning that she has had thus far or if she feels there could be some improvement. This was her input on the subject, “I couldn’t be more satisfied with the integration of faith and learning that OBU incorporates in its classes. I never thought about how our learning affects our relationship with Christ, but it does. If God made all things, I should too learn about them and how they intertwine to paint a perfect picture of my Lord.”
I think that in a Christian college, faith should be expected to be a part of the classroom. I think it is important that nobody feel like they have to hide their Christianity. That is what will end up happening if we worry too much about the people that come to a Christian college who are not Christians. Meghan Loyd is a senior at OBU and she talked with me about how much it matters to her whether issues of faith and learning are addressed in her education. “I love that integration of faith and learning is a core part about academics at OBU, being able to learn under the knowledge and power of God, because all learning comes from the Lord.” Meghan plainly expresses how important it is to her that faith and learning be integrated in the classroom. Without it, it would not have been the same wonderful experience for her.
Although every person’s opinion of the importance of integrating faith and learning in the classroom will differ, I think it is safe to say that it is a vital key in our walk with God while in school. Holmes states, “Education must be an act of love, of worship, of stewardship, a wholehearted response to God.” Without God, all of the knowledge and truth that we know today, would not exist. So why not grasp that knowledge and use it for everything that it is worth? Why not thank God for the gift of such wonderful skills by using those skills in our everyday lives? Integrating faith and learning in the classroom is necessary to our growth as human beings, as Christians, and as followers of God.