Heartbroken Boyce College students mourn the abrupt death of Nick Challies

Communications Staff — November 4, 2020

(Editors’ note: Updated since initial publication)

Boyce College students and faculty gathered this morning on the lawn at Southern Seminary to mourn the death of 20-year-old Nick Challies, son of popular evangelical blogger and author, Tim Challies.

Nick Challies collapsed suddenly and died on Tuesday night while playing a game with his sister, fiancée, and several other Boyce College students at a park near the campus of Southern Seminary. Efforts by emergency personnel to revive him were unsuccessful. Cause of death remains unknown.

The Boyce College and Southern Seminary community was stunned as news began to spread of Challies’ death. Challies was a junior at Southern Seminary’s undergraduate college in the BA to MDiv program. His sister, Abigail, is a freshman at Boyce. Nick was engaged to fellow Boyce student Anna Kathryn “Ryn” Conley. Seminary leaders canceled Wednesday classes at the college.

Tim Challies reported the heartbreaking news in a brief post this morning on his blog: “In all the years I’ve been writing I have never had to type words more difficult, more devastating than these: Yesterday the Lord called my son to himself—my dear son, my sweet son, my kind son, my godly son, my only son.”

In a letter to the seminary community, SBTS President Albert Mohler urged fervent prayer for Nick’s family and friends.

“Nick was an outstanding young man, faithful to Christ, who was also a friend to all,” Mohler said. “He was a much loved and important part of the Boyce College family. We are thankful to have known him, and so very thankful that he came to be a student at Boyce College. He made us all proud. No one saw this coming.

“Our love and prayers and shared experience of shock are transformed into heartbreak for Nick’s sweet parents, Tim and Aileen Challies, and for his sisters, Abigail and Michaela. How can a loving mother and father bear this pain, but by God’s mercy? His sweet sisters are bearing a pain only they can know. We are carrying them all in our hearts.

“In the mystery of God’s infinite kindness, brothers and sisters in Christ know that our earnest prayers and anguished sympathy really do matter to us in a time of grief and trial. They matter to us because we matter to God. We are praying that our love will comfort the Challies family and Ryn as they walk through these days.

“Right now, none of us can think of Nick’s death without a sense of unreality, but death is real. Yet, we know that the love of Christ is more real than anything—infinitely greater than the combined energies of the cosmos. Far greater than the power of death.”

College and seminary leaders gathered Wednesday morning to pray publicly for Tim Challies and his wife, Aileen, who traveled from Canada to Louisville overnight.

“There are times and there are occasions in the life of a community like this when the fallenness of our world breaks in [and] we experience brokenness and sorrow afresh,” Boyce College Dean Dustin Bruce told students.

“This morning is one of those times. There are no good explanations. There are no good platitudes that suffice. But there is Christ and he is all-sufficient. It’s right to grieve, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We mourn the loss of Nick, but we mourn knowing that when Nick left us, he went to be with the Lord. All of us who are in Christ will one day see him again.”

Tim briefly thanked Boyce College and Southern Seminary students and faculty for making Nick feel at home during the time he was away from home in Toronto.

“Nick loved this place,” he said. “He loved the college. He loved the seminary . . . I know how much he loved his fellow students, how much he loved the faculty, how much he loved the staff, how much he loved and admired the administration. I know how much he was loved by you.

“Thank you for being his teachers, his mentors, his friends, and his family when he was here in America. He ran only a short race, just 20 years, but he finished strong. I’m thankful he was able to finish his race surrounded by the people he loved, surrounded by you.”

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, Nov. 6, on the campus of Boyce College and Southern Seminary.


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