Author info: Michelle Luberto is a junior at Georgetown University. Her talents include all things media and design, photography, and consuming large amounts of lemons at the Tombs with Bonnie. When she's not studying abroad in France, she leads a women's Lifegroup and sings on the worship team. You can follow her on Instagram

Before I arrived at Georgetown, I was skeptical as to what my place on campus would be. Nearly every freshman feels that paralyzing fear at some point. The place that I now call home was big and scary and overwhelming - all I could do was hold God’s hand. 

Chi Alpha became a part of my story within days of my arrival on campus. Bubble tea and kind words (what I know now to be a staple in this community) were the vehicles that it used to work itself into my life.

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I somehow found myself attending their first service of the year (dragging my roommate along too, of course). I was excited but nervous, hoping I had found my place. Jon Rice, our former director, gave a sermon on how messy this community was… an interesting way to welcome us new freshmen in. Looking back, those words were carefully chosen, transformative, divine, even. I learned from the very start that my involvement here would not be easy, but would certainly be rewarding. I remember leaving that night and thinking I had liked it there. I liked the way they served chips and salsa and lemonade. I liked the way the leaders had red name tags and were always there, spread out, ready to meet us where we were at. I liked the way the worship band was student-led and the prayers were authentic and Jesus was present. I decided to keep coming. involvement here would not be easy, but would certainly be rewarding.

Chi Alpha was the first organization to let me in without an agenda. The first group of people to disregard the Georgetown culture of busyness and resume-building and look at me as the daughter of God that I am. Chi Alpha is a ministry who genuinely chases after God’s heart while seeking to protect each others’ - although we often fall short.

After two years of being on campus, I now know exactly why the Lord called me to Georgetown. I am nothing without Him and these people, this community that has built me up in ways unfathomable. I am at Georgetown to set up the chips and salsa and lemonade, to wear my red name tag, to lead the worship team and to pray bold prayers with the people I love. I thank God each and every day for this ministry and His faithfulness through it and have forever been changed since that first bubble tea.

Published on July 29, 2016 • Short Link:

Author's info: Sam Murphy will be a senior at American University. In addition to serving as the President of AUXA's student club, he is passionate about cooking, sports (especially pro-football and the New England Patriots), joining as many fantasy footballs leagues a person can handle, and having deep gospel conversations with his peers. You can connect with him on Facebook.

So I'm at work and my boss is coming down hard. Nothing is good enough, nothing is sufficient, everything must be better. I watch day in and day out as my work is pulled apart and burned like a moth in flame. I'm frustrated and I'm starting to panic every time I hear my name. That's when I remember Blane Young saying, “Make sure you aren't complaining about your miracle.”

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You see I'd been praying that God would make me a better worker for several weeks by that point. I'd been struck by how inefficient I was and wanted to work in a way that uplifts Jesus. I wanted to work in a way that made me a good witness that reveals the glory of God.

So as I sat there at my desk and recalled Blane's words, it dawned on me that my prayer had been answered. Yes my boss was riding me like a small horse, but my work quality was steadily improving, my apathy rapidly dropping. So my grimace was quickly overtaken by a grin and I got back to work.

Prayer is such a profound gift that the only fitting adjective is magical.

In Chi Alpha I have learned an incredible amount about prayer. I used to pray before the occasional meal, when I was broken hearted, when I was confused,  but I never really "got it." Prayer is such a profound gift that the only fitting adjective is magical

Through prayer we are able to seek God and to see his profound grace in our lives. We are strongest when we draw near to Jesus, alone or together, standing or reverently bowed, laughing or weeping, we are strongest when we pray.

Published on July 28, 2016 • Short Link:

Author info: As a recent graduate with her degree in Cross-Cultural Studies from Toccoa Falls College, Brittney has been on staff with Chi Alpha at American University since Fall 2015 with her husband, Josh. This small-town Georgia native has embraced urban life,  and become part of the big city. She has a heart for international students and a passion for exploring new cultures - specifically trying new international foods. In her spare time, Brittney enjoys taking short trips to new places and scouring local thrift stores for a new project. She is passionate about having deep conversations, and about creating home wherever she is. You can connect with her via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

As campus missionaries working at American University, we are continually challenging our students to have deeper and more meaningful conversations. Often our default is to remain in the realm of small talk, surface level interactions become our normal, and in turn we suffer from a deplorable lack of depth in our daily interactions with those around us. There are many reasons that could be pointed out that create this culture of relational complacency, but I believe that we are often battling a simple lack of knowledge. We must realize that as Christians, when we allow ourselves to indulge in relational complacency, we not only penalize ourselves, we miss opportunities to engage others in gospel centered conversations. Simply put, we are missing opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those that we come in contact with on a daily basis! 

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We often find that students, once engaged and challenged to overcome the anxieties that cause them to disengage initially, are simply unsure of how to ask questions that create a gospel centered conversations. As XA staff we all individually have our go to questions to engage students in deeper conversation, and to help us personally take our relationships to a deeper level with those that we are walking with in discipleship relationships. Whether in conversation with a believer or a non-believer, we believe that there are a few questions that can help anyone to have greater success in creating conversational and relational depth that opens windows for the gospel. It takes a bold step to take a surface level conversation to a deeper level, but we know that the rewards can be great. 

We would love to share several of these simple questions with you below: 

Questions to ask non-believers or those who you are unsure of their religious background:

“Do you have much of a spiritual background?”  
Their follow up questions include:
-    “Does your background have any impact on you now?” 
-    “What people have most shaped your beliefs?”
-    “What’s most influenced you to come to your current conclusions?

“What do you think about Jesus?”
Other related questions include:
-    “What have you heard about Jesus/ Christianity?”
-    “Are you a spiritual person?
-    “Have you ever thought about God in your life before?”

Questions to engage believers on a deeper level: 

“What are you learning in your time with Jesus this week?”
Other related questions include: 
-    “What are you learning in your bible reading this week?” 
-    “Do you have a devotional time? Tell me more about it.”

“How does your Christian faith impact your life on a regular basis?” 
Other related questions include: 
-    “How does your faith effect your work life?”
-    “In what ways do you practice your faith regularly?” 
-    “How big of an impact does your faith have on your relationships?”

We hope that these help you to engage someone within your influence on a deeper level this week!

Published on July 27, 2016 • Short Link:

Author Bio: Currently working full-time in the marketplace, Hannah loves the thriving, fast-paced city that is Washington, DC. A proud alum from the University of Alabama, there's very little she loves more than college football, her husband Blane, and their son Jeremiah. You can find her around the city exploring bookstores, drinking coffee, or taking walks with Jeremiah, and follow her on Twitter at @hannahfyoung. 

The other day Jeremiah and I were taking a bus ride. He loves buses. We got on the bus together- my hands full of baby, stroller, metrocard, diaper bag, etc. People graciously moved out of the way so we could sit in the preferred seating in front. Next to me was a man who looked down on his luck- very possibly homeless. He noticed Jeremiah’s wide-eyed stare and excitement to be on a bus. Side note: bus rides are possibly the most exciting thing in the world if you are 20 months old. 

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The homeless man asked him, “Is this your first bus ride?” He told me Jeremiah should have something to mark the occasion. From one of his bags he pulled out a well-worn, well-used plastic box and from it, gave Jeremiah several pennies. “No, wait,” he said, “you need more than that.” He then proceeded to give Jeremiah a huge, heaping handful of pennies, nickels, and dimes.

The bus arrived at my stop and I thanked the man profusely for making the experience so special and for his gift to Jeremiah. I left the bus feeling overwhelmed by his generosity. He took the time to truly see the people around him and live generously - regardless of his own circumstances. 

In fact, how you give now determines how you will give later.

This experience reminds me that we are never too poor to give. In fact, how you give now determines how you will give later. Are you waiting to get out of debt, to get a better job, to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck before you start giving?

If so, I challenge you to read the story of the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4). It’s pretty clear she had no savings, no back-up plan, and no streams of revenue, yet she was willing to give all she had. Prayerfully ask God where, when, and how much you should give. He knows your financial situation. He also knows people who need blessing. 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:34

Take a minute. Examine your heart. How can you live generously today?

Published on July 26, 2016 • Short Link:

Author Info: A Buffalo native, Natalie Kate "Kate Hill" Hill (of the Modern Nomads) is best known for her unique vocals and indie style. Yet it's her heart for seeing students lives transformed by the power and love of Jesus that makes her a quality leader. She serves on the staff team at American University Chi Alpha. You can connect with her via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

There’s this thing in the church I grew up called Bible Quiz.  It’s probably exactly what you’re thinking, on steroids.  It’s a competition between teams from all different churches where you’re asked questions about the Bible, all ranging in point value.  Some require answers with direct quotes and scripture references (known as “quotation questions”), you can interrupt the question and complete the question and the answer (to beat the other team to it), and the competition is complete with buzzers and strategies on how to hold your hands for the quickest “beep.”  I don’t mean to brag or anything (actually I do),  but my team won first place in the Junior Bible Quiz state competition in sixth grade.  All of that to say, I knew a lot of things about the Bible.

I learned a lot and knew the answers and memorized the facts.  I take great pride in how quickly I can recite the books of the Bible and the 12 tribes of Judah in order.  And growing up in church, people always talked about devotional life, but in my head, I thought I already knew everything I needed to know.  I knew what was in the Bible backwards and forwards, literally.

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It took me many years to realize how misguided I was.

I think there will always be a season in our lives when we learn that knowing about the Bible and knowing Jesus are not the same thing.  I learned it my sophomore year of college in a season of depression where reciting the 12 sons of Jacob didn’t change the pain or the loneliness.  I knew what the Bible said but I didn’t have a daily relationship with Jesus.  I wasn’t letting the words of scripture come to life and speak hope into my bones.  It took hurting to understand that Jesus wanted to be with me every day, reminding me of who He was to me and how much He valued me.  And that took a daily devotional life, reminding myself of who God was and how the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of today.

At a certain point, we can’t be satisfied with where we’ve been.

We can know all the facts, but God wants to bring us to a deeper place with Him.  When I got to college, there was knowledge but not depth.  At a certain point, we can’t be satisfied with where we’ve been.  When we spend daily time with God and in His word, we start to delight in His commandments (Psalm 119).  We start to find hope in our brokenness (Lamentations 3).  We start to understand just how much Christ values us (Luke 12).  We can stay where we’ve been or we can want more.  And we can have a fuller, deeper, more rewarding relationship with our savior.

I keep talking about devotional life because I know what it was like to not have it, and I know what it’s like to have it.  And I could get by just fine for a while.  I could explain my religion with a list of facts, and my faith looked a lot like a to-do list with things to check off and things to know.  I think that’s how the majority of self-professed Christians view it too.  

But there’s more to be found.

There’s a God who longs to give us a hope and a peace and to show us grace.  His laws are there for our good, because He loves us.  He wants to show us this every day.  And He just longs to be in relationship with us.  But like any true relationship, it takes work.  It takes showing up each day with all our baggage and saying, “Let’s be together.”

Published on July 25, 2016 • Short Link: