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Barry Black Speaks to Full House at PUC

Lainey S. Cronk, March 11, 2009
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In three March 7 programs at Pacific Union College, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black spoke for the Heubach Lecture and two church services. Faculty and staff, students, and visitors from far and wide packed the building for all three services and the book-signing that followed the lecture. In his presentations and interactions, Black impressed people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds with his energy, sincerity, and message.

At the first church service, Black presented "Gather the Fragments," a call to gather and put to use the leftovers, fragments, or things that seem not to matter to us - including fragments of blessings, time, and compassion. All these pieces, he said, still count. They all add up. "We've got to not waste the leftovers of our faith," he said. We have to believe that God can use his people "above all that we can ask or imagine." In the second service, titled "Comfort in Tough Times," Black shared ways to have courage in these times, including learning how to wait on the Lord, permitting God to dispel the shadows in one's life, and developing an unshakable confidence in Jesus.

At the Heubach Lecture, a biennial lecture provided by the Paul C. Heubach endowment, Black spoke on "Defending the Faith." He gave six ways we can and should defend our faith to anyone, regardless of whether or not they believe the Bible: always being ready to do good, taking the road less traveled, intelligence, winsomeness (even as simple as smiling), perseverance, and setting an example.

"Barry Black was a great speaker," said student Danny Hopgood. "He produced an atmosphere that was both contemplative and humorous." Community member Carolyn Low added, "It's beautiful the way he weaves the Bible stories into the reality of our lives."

In a private luncheon between programs, Black and his wife dined with about 30 guests at the home of PUC president Richard Osborn. Guests included PUC people as well as community members such as mayor Jack Gingles of Calistoga and his wife and officers from Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. After the luncheon, the group enjoyed stories about Black's experiences and asked him questions about his book, about his life, and about whether he'd "always been this sassy"!

Black also autographed many copies of his autobiography, From the Hood to the Hill, in a side room following the lecture. Long lines bought out all 250 copies of the book that were on hand and another long line waited for autographs.

In all the various ways they heard or interacted with Black, people appreciated his genuineness, insight, and example. "One of the many 'morals of the story' would be, 'if you are faithful to God he will be faithful to you,'" said student Jonathan Young. "One of the most important things was that [Black] was faithful to God first, and the successes followed. That is something I can apply to my life."

 Low, who was taking notes during the presentations, recounted, "I sat next to a student who was taking notes too, so you know that Barry was able to give a very meaningful message to a broad spectrum of people, ages, interests, etc. At the talk-back [following the lecture], as in his sermons and lecture, he could answer with knowledge and intelligence from all his study and education, with wisdom from his wonderful relationship with God, and with a wonderful humanity from the experienced journeys in his life."