When I stepped onto my university campus as an 18-year-old freshman, God was the farthest thing from my mind. I love to tell people, though, that I was not the farthest thing from His.
Outside of an occasional visit to my grandparents Greek Orthodox church (where Mom did have us baptized), my family didn’t really engage much in a life of faith. I knew only a few people who walked with Christ until I went away to college. It was in my freshman dorm that I encountered the reality of the presence of Christ.
Dennis, Kristin, Lisa and Andrew all lived on my hall, and they loved God beautifully. What confused me (besides some of their views on things like partying and sex) was that I really liked these guys. They were fun. They were funny. They were people I would want to be friends with. I was totally surprised.
My new friends were all a part of a couple campus ministries on our campus, one of which was Chi Alpha. In their ministries the four were well connected with other believers, and were encouraged that God would strengthen their faith in college and use their lives to show His goodness on our campus.
Midway through my freshman year, my roommate started following Christ. So did my neighbor, Randy. They quickly got involved in Chi Alpha and before I knew it, Chi Alpha was praying for me, loving me, and showing me the sweetness of God reflected through their lives. The students of this ministry loved me past my resistance. Looking back, I really don’t know why I resisted.
My story demonstrates the value of university ministry.
Students who come to college with faith grow stronger in their faith when they are connected to a faith-filled community on campus. They live in the center of God’s mission for their college years. Students who come from little faith background can see the goodness of God reflected through the lives of their peers.
Yes, we can speak of the future leaders who study today on our campuses, and lead our communities tomorrow…and we do. We can talk about the hundreds of thousands of international students who come through our borders and to our campuses to study before they go back home to their nations that are often closed to missionary efforts…and we do. We can talk about how what happens on the university campus affects our larger society…and we do. But if we break it down it comes down to Andrew and Dennis and Kristin and Lisa and Sandy and Randy and…me. Ours are the lives deepened and changed for Jesus’ joy on the university campus.
Two decades later we all still love God passionately. We have travelled the world for Jesus and so much of our faith journey points back to our time as college students.
And when I look at the students who walk by me on campus every day, I can hear their names in my mind.
Andrew. Dennis. Kristin. Lisa. Sandy. Randy. Stefanie.