You can only have so many spiritual babies toddling around until there are mouths that need to be fed and diapers that need to be changed. I’ll spare you the details of the drama of the early years and what outlandish things some of our new believers and students leaders thought were non-issues…let’s just say MINISTRY IS NICE AND MESSY. Especially in the beginning. It’s funny because I actually prefer the mess. I just feel like it’s so invigorating to see the darkness penetrated by the light and I love to see God do the unthinkable!
Young believers need to be equipped with how to walk with Jesus, study His Word, pray, share their faith, enjoy community etc. Intentional discipleship opportunities have to be established in our ministry after those first few years. We invested our time in one-on-one appointments, small groups, “Man-Day Night” Men’s Studies, Leadership Ladies 6 am Breakfasts (remember those, Sarah Henderson!?!) Leadership Bible Studies, and taking these disciples to share their faith and start their own ministries.
Our hope was for new believers to be growing, getting plugged into a local church and using our ministry as their place of outreach ministry during their college years. With the end goal being to establish new believers, help them grow into mature believers who would spend their rest of their lives spiritually multiplying into the lives of their others in all 7 continents of the world. Our last 3 years at Carolina, we really began to see this vision realized. Like in crazy amazing ways that get me all choked up if I think about them long enough.
One cherished disciple boldly shared her story online last week. Here are Blake and I at her baptism at our church.
And then there’s the story of two other girls who are so dear to me…
Hey! My name is Reid. Though I did not grow up in a Christian home, I was introduced to the Lord at a young age. It wasn’t until college though, that I understood that my salvation came through faith in Christ alone.
In June of 2010, I returned to school in Columbia, S.C. after studying abroad in Florence, Italy for part of my junior year. After blowing through all of my money partying abroad my parents decided to make me take summer classes. I was definitely not excited about spending my entire summer in Columbia and dreaded getting started on classes.
While I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I returned, I really didn’t expect to find out that so many of my friends had gotten involved with CRU/Greek Impact and had given their lives to Christ since I’d been gone. From my friend who used to be Jewish, to my roommate who had just gotten back from a Christian leadership retreat with CRU, it was obvious that a lot of changes were happening in Columbia.
I was excited to hear that my friend and Sorority sister, Becca, was in my summer class. We planned to study at her apartment every Sunday, but beforehand Becca invited me to go to Midtown, a local church, with her. I also decided to call my friend Kitty who works for Campus Crusade for Christ to see if she wanted to catch up sometime that next week. I met Kitty as a freshman and even though she never necessarily approved of my wild lifestyle, she has always been supportive of me and I valued her friendship greatly. I could tell when I called that she was genuinely excited to hear from me and we made plans to get coffee later that week. She also invited me to Greek Impact Bible Study that night. Eager to see her and some other friends that I knew would be going, I accepted the offer. It was at that Bible study that I began to see my life a little more clearly.
After our large group teaching we all broke up into small groups and Joel asked us to discuss a question – “How has our faith grown over the last year?” After my three friends gave great stories of how their faith and trust in the Lord had grown so much stronger over the past 12 months I realized that mine had only suffered.
In Italy I drank literally every single day I was there, used my body in whatever way I wanted, and constantly surrounded myself with people who were not walking with the Lord, thinking this was all part of the key to my happiness. After recounting my last year to my friends I looked at them and told them honestly that I had probably talked more about God in the last week than I had in the past year. All of a sudden I realized that all these events – being separated from my friends, spending all my money – had culminated into my return to Columbia where I was surrounded by a solid Christian community. God was calling me to Himself!
After falling into temptation again that next night, Becca asked me a question – could I honestly say that I had ever fully given my life to the Lord? The answer was simple. No, I had not. After class I met up with Kitty and talked to her and it became clear to me that if I wanted to grow in my faith and truly begin a relationship with God, I had to surrender.
Over the next few days I thought a lot about it, wanting to make sure that if and when I did it, that I would be doing it because I was ready and not just because I felt like it was what I was “supposed to do.” That Sunday night after church I went over to Becca’s to study again. Before we started, I asked her if she would pray with me. It was a simple but powerful moment as we held hands and I surrendered my life to Christ!
It has been amazing to see how God has already used me in so many ways for his glory. This last few years have been the most rewarding times in my life. While my walk with Christ has not always been easy and I have learned some lessons the hard way, my faith and trust in Him has only grown. I know that I can do all things through Him and he has given me the courage and the peace of mind to leave my Christian friends and church community in South Carolina and start my adult life here in Nashville working full-time for a Christian ministry, helping others find the joy of Jesus! I am excited to see what the Lord has planned for my future!
I know I keep saying this, but I wish there were time and space to share the stories of the countless others who’s lives have been eternally changed. God’s glory would be all over it. Maybe in coming days I’ll get more students to share!