James Lambert
My Life Changing college experience & a school janitor who helped change my life
By James Lambert
August 29, 2013

At the end of my freshman year at Linfield, the school's yearbook staff produced another fine publication was entitled, "Oak Leaves '69." Mixed in the first few pages of that edition were pictures of students and scenery from around the campus during the late '60s. Included in these pages were some notable quotes that read: "A search for self ... we are looking for something ... we know it's there ... we taste it on the wind ... we sense it inside others ... it is shared and sparkles in that moment."

Little did I know that the subtle messages from those first few pages of the 'Oak Leaves' yearbook during my freshman year would serve as a prophetic statement for my life during my next few years at college. Later I would find that a life changing event in the second semester of my junior year at Hewitt Hall would forever change the course of my life.

My high school years were a happy time for me. As a senior at La Jolla Country Day School, I was the first high school graduate from my school to go to Linfield. My parents had given me a solid foundation by teaching me some important fundamentals for life. Still I lacked any spiritual insight in my life. By the time I entered the second semester of my freshman year at Linfield I made the mistake of making some wrong choices that would later have negative consequences on my life. By my sophomore year in college I began to regularly use illegal drugs. I quickly became a lost person in my own lost world.

By November of the following year I was in a terrible car accident while driving to Santa Cruz (CA.) for a surfing expedition during the college's Thanksgiving holiday vacation. As I look back on that horrific day, I am still amazed that I did not lose my right leg when my '69 Ford Van collided with a guard rail just outside the city of San Jose. The guard rail split through my vehicle that early morning in November. For the next 3-4 months I began questioning my own mortality and the direction life was taking me.

Little did I know at the time that there were several friends (Charmaine & Larry) from Linfield's chapter of the Campus Crusade for Christ who were praying for me. By January of 1971, I found out that my roommate of 18 months was leaving the school. His absence from my small 3rd story dormitory room (in Hewitt Hall) gave me even more time to contemplate the state of my life during those dark days. Six weeks later on February 12th, 1971 Larry came to my room that evening and knocked on my door. As we sat down in my room that night, he pulled out a small yellow pamphlet entitled, The Four Spiritual Laws.

For the next 20 minutes Larry carefully read the pamphlet to me. For the first time in my life, the Biblical message of Christ's 'good news' was clearly explained to me. Deep down in my heart, I knew that Christ was who He said He was. I knew that by his message of love and forgiveness, I was a different person by allowing Him to be the most important person in my life. The decision to accept or reject God's love gift was clearly presented to me that night.

That evening I decided to acknowledge my condition of lack. I acknowledged that I needed God, His grace and forgiveness. It was a miraculous turning point in my life. I knew right then that my life had changed for the better. Gone were the drugs, gone was the crazy lifestyle – overnight! I just wanted to get closer to God.

Little did I know around that same time that the College had hired a friendly, middle aged man as a school janitor by the name of Frank Friesen. Frank and his family traveled from Manitoba, Canada to find a job in McMinnville. Over the course of the next few weeks after my special, life changing moment, I met Frank's wife, Adina in a downtown McMinnville store. After finding out that I was from the college, Adina asked me to visit their home.

The couple would have a profound effect on my life that I wouldn't soon forget. They not only encouraged me in my new faith but they made a difference in the lives of dozens of other Linfield students during their time in the college. Many who had been involved in the drug culture were befriended by this couple and their lives changed remarkably for the better. The love and care extended by this Linfield College janitor and his wife allowed many students to feel "at home" at their residence. Also, it just so happened that their home was located across from the school's football stadium, Maxwell Field. This wonderful couple's positive involvement with students from the college was clearly a blessing. They became a second family to me and many others. For this I will forever be indebted to the college for my very positive, and life changing moment I experienced during this important time in my life.

© James Lambert


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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James Lambert

James Lambert has a broad business background. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Linfield College (McMinnville, Oregon), Lambert pursued a career in banking by working in various management capacities for Crocker Bank, San Diego Trust & Savings Bank and First Interstate Bank (between 1973 and 1995). By 1990 Lambert received his Master in Business Administration from National University (San Diego). For 3 years, Lambert also taught Finance at Mira Costa Community College... (more)


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