Bluefield College students were invited to trade in their hurt for healing during the school’s 19th Annual Duremdes Christian Emphasis Week, September 29-October 1, featuring the nationally renowned ministry of evangelist Tony Nolan and professions of faith from more than 150 students.
Sponsored by Drs. Gene and Jane Duremdes of Princeton, West Virginia, BC’s Christian Emphasis Week is designed to challenge students and the community at-large to “examine their spiritual lives” through the facilitation of inspirational speakers, like Nolan. Sensing a “special calling to share with the students of Bluefield College some of the blessings [they] have received from the Lord,” the Duremdes say their hope is that the annual event provides the opportunity for students to “seek answers to life-impacting questions.”
“It’s their (the Duremdes) desire that every student at Bluefield College know the love of God,” said BC campus minister David Taylor about the purpose of the annual Duremdes event, “and that through Christian Emphasis Week students have a genuine encounter with Christ.”
This year, Nolan served to facilitate that purpose as keynote speaker for Christian Emphasis Week. The son of a “mentally insane homeless prostitute,” who suffered mental, physical and sexual abuse in foster care before turning to drugs and alcohol to ease his pain, Nolan spoke during an opening session about a war between a “hurt dealer” and a “hurt healer.”
He likened Satan, the hurt dealer, to a drug dealer who wants to “steal and destroy your soul.” More people than we realize, he said, have succumbed to Satan’s temptation and are lost and hurting.
“Despite what people say or what it looks like on the surface,” Nolan said, “there are a ton of people in your community, in your neighborhood, on this campus, in this room who are not okay. On the outside, they look fine, but inside they are all bent out of shape and hurting.”
Nolan, who often contemplated suicide to end his hopeless life before hearing and accepting the Good News of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness, told the students that God could end their hurt and give them hope and joy.
“Where are you today?” he asked the students about their spiritual status. “Can I invite you to trade in your leading role in a postage-stamp-sized life for a supporting role in the grand, big story of God, and watch how He will radically change your life? Happiness and joy are being healed by the hurt healer.”
Nolan encouraged the students to ask God for forgiveness of their sins and to invite Him into their hearts. He then challenged the students who prayed the sinner’s prayer to stand up, step out, and come forward to demonstrate their profession of faith. More than 150 students responded.
“God is using Tony [Nolan] in phenomenal ways,” said Taylor. “He is reaching thousands of young people with the power of God’s word, and this event (Christian Emphasis Week) has impacted the lives of dozens of students on our campus and in our community.”
Nolan’s own life story fuels his passion for Christ and lies at the heart of his powerful gift for speaking God’s truth to post-modern youth. The victim of unspeakable abuse at the hands of his foster parents before enduring neglect and cruelty from an alcoholic adoptive father, Nolan heard while still a young adult the Good News of Jesus Christ and how He came to give hurting people life to the fullest. As a result, he committed his life to sharing the story of God’s love with others.
“If you take anything away from this week,” Nolan told the students, “take with you a greater understanding of the love of God. You don’t know true joy, if you don’t know God.”