When I had the chance to sit down a few weeks ago with Ed Bort, the Associate Director of Academics at Impact 360, I asked him who his favorite author is. His response was Dallas Willard because Willard puts so much into every sentence he writes and Ed described him as having a sharp mind and pastoral heart. However, the longer I listened to Ed talk the more I realized that he himself is a man who has an unbelievably sharp mind and the steady heart of a pastor.

Like many of us, Ed wrestled in college with questions about his faith such as “Is this stuff really real or is this just something my parents taught us to instill good manners?” He reflects that he was never truly discipled in high school which led to many doubts about the validity of his faith. When he got to college, Ed became involved with Cru.

Cru showed me that there is so much more to the Christian life – it changed the way I saw meaning.

It was on a flight back from Bahrain that Ed felt God distinctly push him towards ministry and reveal to him that college students were the way to change the world. Ed joined staff with Cru for a few years where he met his wife, Dana, while serving in 1997. Although they started out simply as friends interested in different people, a relationship developed and a few years later in 2002 they were married. I asked Ed what his favorite thing about his relationship with Dana is and he replied, “Something I love about our relationship is looking for ways to empower her to use her gifts that God has given her.”

A little further down the road, Ed received a master in philosophy from Talbot. At this time a close friend of his and beloved guest professor at Impact 360, J.P. Moreland, saw a natural connection between Ed, Dana and Impact 360. Ed first came to Impact 360 as a guest professor to teach on the problem of suffering and was impressed with what he saw. He made the connection in his mind between his passion for college students understanding their faith and ultimately changing the world and the mission of Impact 360. This led him to ask to be notified if a position ever came available and when it did, he joined Impact 360’s staff in 2011.

So what exactly does Ed do for Impact 360? Well, besides helping put together all of the academic curriculum, modules, guest professors and objectives while deciding on reading and assignments, Ed also oversees both the international experience and service opportunities. He enjoys thinking of new and creative ways to help the students learn by incorporating active learning into the classroom, “So the students don’t just get lectures for 3 hours but engage their minds with what they are learning with the professor and material”. Ed also enjoys being able to help the students debrief their international experience in Brazil. His hope is that he can get the students to pause and think through “God what are you doing around me?” and realize what God has been doing to show himself to them throughout the month.

A theme I noticed as I was listening to Ed talk about his life, his family, his dreams and his role at Impact 360 is “shalom”. It came up time and time again and that word is actually the closure at the end of each of Ed’s emails, so I asked him to define what shalom is and explain why it is so important to him.

In John 10:10 when Christ is talking about the abundant life and all that it offers, that is shalom. We translate shalom as peace and peace is part of it, but it is that thriving life; recognizing I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that God sees me, loves me and wants me to flourish.

It is evident to all Impact 360 staff and students alike that this is Ed’s heartbeat and that he strives to assist others in living in shalom. The week that I had this conversation with Ed, his name seemed to come up over and over in conversation with various staff members and alumni. They talked about how Ed has the ability to discern when they are having a difficult day and graciously help them push the pause button and acknowledge God in the midst of the struggle. Simultaneously in the classroom, Ed has the ability to guide the students through difficult intellectual topics while affirming each individual’s learning pace and style.

Ed has a sharp mind that can debate complex ethical issues and dive into the depths of philosophical discussion while seamlessly he has a shepherd’s eye for when a member of the group is hurting. A more fitting description cannot be found of Ed Bort than that he is definitely a man with a sharp mind and pastoral heart.

Ed serves as the Associate Director of Academics for the Impact 360 Gap Year Program. The Gap Year is a nine-month Christian worldview and leadership experience located in Pine Mountain, Georgia for students 18-20 years of age. For more information or to schedule a Preview Day visit contact [email protected].