Becca lives and works in our nation’s capital. She spent the past two years working with Chi Alpha, ministering to students at American University. She studied International Studies and Arabic language there, and is now stepping into her field professionally. In her free time, you can find her hanging out with friends, browsing Eastern Market and drinking lots of coffee.
Campus ministry has many joys - drinking coffee with students and talking about life and faith on a regular basis being one of them.
When I started doing campus ministry after college, I didn’t exactly know what I was getting myself into.
I had a picture of it from being a student leader in Chi Alpha at American University, but it’s completely different being on the staff team.
There’s much more responsibility, but also more opportunity to see God moving in people’s lives on campus.
One of the most joyous things about this job is seeing growth in students I’ve invested in. I’ve had a genuine, lasting impact not only on their lives, but on who they are as a person- their character and their faith has been defined in some way by my relationship with them.
All of the time, energy, love, prayer and carefully-thought-through questions and responses has not only paid off, but it has given me a relationship I’ll treasure for a lifetime. And even better - one they’ll treasure for a lifetime. The kind of gratitude that comes from these students is invaluable. It’s the best gift I could ever receive.
The one thing I’ve found most challenging about these relationships, however, is sustainability.
Sacrificial love is the best kind - it’s the kind that Jesus shows us day in and day out. It’s the kind we’re called to give others. It can be a bit tricky to figure out how to sustain it though, while staying healthy and whole.
During my internship year, I remember trying to calculate in my head how the relationships God had laid out before me that year would work given my space-time parameters (and my love-giving parameters). The wise words Mike Godzwa gave me as I was voicing my concern were, “Well, it’s not a science, is it? It’s more of an art. Discipleship is an art, and it will never be perfect.” This both helped and scared me, because it meant I would have to figure it out as I went along and rely on the Holy Spirit. I found what Mike told me to be very true, though.
It became a discerning process. When was I going to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to either sacrifice a little bit from my personal life in order to lean into a discipleship relationship, and when was I going to take a step back and rest? I think the most important thing is to first recognize that I need and deserve rest.
One of the biggest lessons I learned during that first year is that self-care is not selfish, and we are better able to give and love sacrificially when we are healthy and whole ourselves. Once I accept this, then I can better discern when those times are that I can give a little more.
On the most basic and profound level, sustainability in these relationships happens by being intentional. It’s a cycle of giving and rest that works by making intentional decisions. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. And it’s knowing the challenges and working on them that makes the joys all the more joyful.