Bonnie Duncan is the pastor for Georgetown Chi Alpha. Proudly raised in Texas, Bonnie graduated from Georgetown University in 2013 and never left. She loves iced tea with a ton of lemons (some would say she has a problem), adventures involving potentially dangerous amounts of cliffs and ice (or both) and is an avid fan of weenie dogs, giraffes and women's gymnastics. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@Bonnie_Duncan), and Instagram (bonnie.duncan).

In my high school economics class, my future life was determined by a draw from a hat and a roll of the dice. 

I drew a career from a hat: professional surfer (naturally)
Rolled two dice to determine my salary: $70,000 per year (so I was a really great professional surfer). 
Rolled one dice for amount of kids: 3 of them—all under 5.  
Rolled one for marital status: single mom. Well then. 

Online fundraising for Reach the City - 2016

That would be my life for the semester. I had to learn to balance a checkbook. Plan meals. Scout out daycares I could afford for my imaginary 3 children. All determined by the role of the dice. All seemingly random. 

In some ways, it would seem real life isn’t much different. In college, our paths—in some ways—seem random and left to chance. What college will accept me? (was the admissions officer tired when they read my application?) Who will my friends be? Who will my roommate be? What opportunities will I stumble upon? 

We can all think back on those important moments in our lives that seemed like a coincidence. For me, I’ll always think back to my first day of college, when I walked by a table of friendly people passing out snow cones in front of my freshman dorm. I picked the cherry flavor, and took the gamble to attend Chi Alpha’s first service of the school year—12 people crammed in an 85 degree basement in a sophomore dorm (still better conditions than the early Church I’d imagine). 

7 years later, I’m the pastor for that group. And in a couple of weeks (8 first day of schools later), I’ll pass out some snow cones to wide-eyed freshman wondering what their years at Georgetown will hold. 

If I could tell them one thing, I’d tell them nothing is ever random. 

I’d tell them they may feel overwhelmed and under-qualified here, they may feel like Georgetown made a mistake in admitting them, but God has a purpose for their lives. 

I would tell them their identity is not in things left to the luck of the draw (where they will work, who they will marry, how many kids they have), but rather their lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) and no thing can have access to their identity. 

If I could tell them one thing, I’d tell them nothing is ever random.

I would tell them they could choose to live a life that feels random and left to chance or they could have a live orchestrated by the author of life lived in community. 

This would all be fairly awkward to tell someone I just met over snow cones. But significantly less awkward to live these things in friendship and community over 4 years and a lifetime after that. 

Every snow cone a divine appointment. Because nothing is ever random. 

Published on July 24, 2016  • Short Link:

Author Info: Blane has served on staff at AU Chi Alpha for several years and became the Director in the Fall of 2014. This New Mexico native is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama but has fallen in love with the big city. He and his wife (Hannah) moved to DC to complete the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program under Mike & Jen Godzwa. They are parents to a pretty amazing toddler, Jeremiah. You'll find him biking around DC in search of a coffee by day and pouring over a book by night. You can find him at, and connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

The running joke at American University for several years went as follows:

Student A: Wait, you speak four languages fluently?

Student B: Yep.

Student A: How are you ever going to get the job you want?

Student B: I know, there are at least three people in my classes that are fluent in six languages. And they’ve declared double-majors already.

Student A: (sigh)

Student B: (sigh)

This is also personal for me. During my first year serving Chi Alpha at American University, I was part of the CMIT Training Program, and I was asked to lead a Small Group. It ended up being pretty small and mostly filled with freshmen that I met during Welcome Weeks. Well, here’s a summary: one of the young men owned an international film company, another interned for Wolf Blitzer, another ran an international NGO promoting disability awareness and lastly, one was working at the White House.

Let’s just say that the idea that ‘we have the chance to influence the influencers’ became very real, very quickly.

At first, I didn’t know what I had to offer. Like, I guess I could give them marriage advice but none of them were interested in dating. I was always taught to find a need and fill it, to find a hurt and heal it (to borrow language from Matthew Barnett and the Dream Center Movement).

Yet, for a few weeks, I believed that these guys didn’t have any needs. They were on their way to successful careers, were attending an elite university, had more financial resources that I did as a student (or as I did at that moment, as a first-year Chi Alpha Intern!).

Online fundraising for Reach the City - 2016

But then I realized, with the help of a few mentors, that everyone is looking for something. Everyone is both hungry and hurting. The language and framework of Ignatian Spirituality gave words to this that I didn’t realize I needed. The concept of our sins and mistakes being ‘disordered attachments’ reminded me of the beautiful idea of imago dei (that we are made in the image of God).

I also realized that, as Craig Groeschel says, “Everyone is fighting something.”

So, although my ministry to these guys (which was likely awkward at times) didn’t look like provided for physical needs (as it had in my previous context) but instead, building relationships and looking for the soft or fuzzy needs. They are just as real, yet harder to define.



To Be Heard.

To Be Known.

I didn’t do this perfectly (and at times, I still struggle) but I think that in order to reach those who are materially fulfilled or successful, we have to dig deeper and have a much clearer missiological set of goals.

So, how do you reach brilliant students? Just like you reach anyone, with love.

It’s just that love, the approach we take, must be different. We must be all things to all people (within the context of the cross, of course).

Not everyone needs a bag of groceries, although some do.

Not everyone needs a friend, although most might.

May we see people as Jesus does and realize that we are already equipped to meet needs and to make a difference.

But everyone needs something and by the grace of God, He wants to use you and I to be the answer to their prayers, even if their prayers have never been said aloud. Or even thought of as prayers.

May we see people as Jesus does and realize that we are already equipped to meet needs and to make a difference. One at a time. Slowly, at times painfully. But realizing that God is so big and majestic, no one has a need that He is unwilling to care for and meet. 

Published on July 22, 2016 • Short Link:

AuthorBlane Young
Anna w/ Raphael (A Student From Australia) 

Anna w/ Raphael (A Student From Australia) 

This is a guest post by Anna Beatty, who is currently a senior at American University and has a passion for all things German. You can connect with her via Facebook

I like to use the word “anomaly” to describe the social atmosphere at American University, which is a liberal private university with strong political science and international relations departments. Students pride themselves in being open-minded and accepting of all cultures and backgrounds, and they get a chance to meet people from everywhere from Virginia to Bahrain. Among the 6,000 undergraduates who live on and around campus, students know enough people to not recognize everybody but to still encounter a good handful of acquaintances and friends on a walk across the quad. Chances are good that when they meet a new classmate or fellow activist, they’ll have at least ten mutual Facebook friends already, which makes it easier to connect from the get-go. Once the conversations get deeper, politics, your own adventures abroad, and the cultural implications of the latest blockbuster are all fair game.

God, however, is something that is discussed as something that is “good for you but not for me.” Christians have gotten themselves into all kinds of anthropological, political, and international relational conundrums. Anyway, truth is relative. To each his own, right?

For about a week and a half, though, this social box is shattered. During their first days on campus, none of the new students have friends yet, so they are genuinely eager to meet people, to make connections and to test the waters.

During Fall Kickoff anyone meets everyone. Students ask each other “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?” and “What’s your major?” until they’re blue in the face. It’s not weird to go for frozen yogurt with someone you met two hours ago and their roommate and their friend from orientation and the guy down the hall and his roommate. It’s not weird to show up for Cones & Chi Alpha – but it’s also not weird to show up in line for a ride from an unknown upperclassman to the off-campus fraternity party with no clue how you’ll get back. This makes Fall Kickoff a more than crucial time in the spiritual lives of the student body and, inevitably, their circles of influence beyond the university campus both domestically and internationally.


An Unforgettable Story

Let me give you an example. I met an incoming freshman, who we’ll call Sean, during Welcome Week when we helped move him and his roommate into their dorm room. Later that night, he came with us to Dinner Out and I got a chance to explain that Chi Alpha is a great community to explore your faith in. He said he had been involved in his Catholic church at home and seemed interested in some faith exploration, so I wasn’t surprised when he showed up regularly to our worship services and heard he was attending a guys’ small group (Bible study).

Only at the end of that school year did I have a chance to ask Sean more about his faith journey and what made him want to stick around Chi Alpha. Come to find out, Sean had been cutting himself, was very disillusioned with his church experience, and would have turned away from God completely. Except that one of the Chi Alpha guys happened to invite him to small group and Sean – in classic Welcome Week spirit – decided to give it a go. And he just didn’t stop going.

Sean will tell you that he became a Christian during his first semester at American University. This summer I have been so encouraged to hear about how God is answering his prayers. In addition to starting a process of personal healing, God has brought Sean’s reluctant parents to his new church, and they loved it. God also allowed Sean to reconnect with his estranged former best friend from high school and tell her about his new faith.

The way that God granted us access to incoming students during Welcome Week has made way for Him to work in and through students who might never have even given Jesus a second thought had it not been for a connection made during those critical first few days on campus.

 Our 100 for $100 Project will go towards each of the Chi Alpha Campus Ministries in the DC area and has the potential to transform their Fall Kickoff. Are you interested in donating or reading more? Click here. 


AuthorBlane Young