Returning to the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary & College faculty as adjunct professors for the spring 2020 term are Drs. Bob and Martha Bergen. Now in their second year of retirement after completing 32 years as professors at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Missouri, the Bergens are starting their second semester of instruction here in Cochrane. They had previously taught here in the fall of 2016. This term Dr. Bob Bergen is teaching a book study on 1-2 Samuel as well as a course in Advanced Hebrew, while Dr. Martha Bergen is teaching the newly-implemented Senior Seminar course for the college.
“Martha and I are delighted to be back at the seminary this semester,” stated Bob. “We had an outstanding experience when we served up here three and a half years ago, and when Dr. Steve Booth invited us to return for this spring term, we sensed that God wanted us to be here.” However, accepting the invitation came with a number of challenges, especially in making arrangements for a Canadian work permit, caring for a house and yard back in Hannibal, finding a good temporary home for a pet, and handing off church- and school-related commitments. In addition, Bob is currently writing a commentary on 1-2 Samuel, and Martha is involved in researching and writing an article for a professional journal. “We knew that if God wanted us up in Cochrane this spring, He would also help us get these matters taken care of. And He did!” said Bergen.
The Bergens will tell you, if you ask them, that they knew God would also have to help as they drove the 1700+ miles distance from Hannibal to Cochrane during the first week of January. “Dr. Booth told us that it would be advantageous for us to take our own vehicle up here,” Bob noted. “We agreed, but were concerned about what we might be facing along the way. Ice storms are not unusual in our part of the United States, and hundreds of miles of snowy and icy road conditions could be encountered along the way. We just trusted God would open up a path for us to get here.”
God did get the Bergens up to the seminary in time for the opening day of the spring term, but He did so in an unexpectedly challenging way. Having taken two days to drive to the northeast corner of North Dakota, the couple was denied entry into Canada at the border crossing leading into Manitoba due to a border guard’s interpretation of a NAFTA regulation. “When the border guard turned us back, we contacted Dr. Booth and the seminary’s immigration lawyer about the problem and they got to work on an alternative plan to get us work permits,” Bob stated. After two additional days of thought and effort, the Bergens were advised that they should travel west through the frozen fields and hills of North Dakota and Montana to try a different port of entry.
Actually, the Bergens used not one, but two additional ports of entry in order to get their work permits. At the lawyer’s suggestion, Bob flew from Billings, Montana, to Calgary to apply for his, while Martha watched over the couple’s vehicle and possessions back in Billings. Bob was indeed granted his 3-year work permit at the airport’s port of entry. He then returned to Billings, where he and his wife made plans to seek her work permit at a border crossing in Alberta. Two days later, in snowy and windy -20˚C weather, they prayerfully approached the Sweetgrass/Coutts port of entry. “We knew many people were praying for us, and we were confident that God would find a way for us to get the work permit Martha needed,” Bob said. And, sure enough, after a three-hour wait at the border, Martha’s work permit was granted. Thankfully, it was granted early enough in the day that the Bergens were able to drive on in to Cochrane around sundown on January 12th—the night before classes began.
“It was exhilarating to see how God worked out the details for us to return to the seminary,” Bob stated. “God answered many people’s prayers by getting us here safely and on time with our 3-year work permits in hand!” How did the Bergens celebrate their return to Canada? “That was easy; we went to the first Tim Horton’s we found in Lethbridge, ordered two double-doubles, donuts, and large chilis!” A great start to a great term!