With our 1-week-old marriage and our big dreams of what God could do in students’ lives, we jumped into campus ministry with gusto. We felt like freshmen ourselves, attending our first weekly outreach, not knowing anyone or anywhere. We quickly met our first batch of freshmen for whom we launched our first freshmen Bible studies. There were many, many, let me emphasize MANY late nights hanging out in the lobby and cafeteria of Capstone dorm. Nights that I look back on now with great fondness as most of those students were ones whom God transformed and redeemed and allowed us to become the greatest of friends.
The thing is, if you reach the freshmen class of your local University with the Gospel (approx 4,000 students) each year, in 4 years you will have given every student the chance to hear about Christ! Granted, we want students to have countless touch points with Christ and Christ-followers throughout their college career, but those malleable moments of freshmen year are crucial.
Here’s just one of many amazing stories that we shared with our ministry partners that first semester…I literally could write about 40 different students who we saw God transform that first year…but it’s way past my bedtime as is…
Our first semester here at the University of South Carolina has been amazing to say the least. We have been seeing God at work in many students’ lives… Lilly, an outgoing freshman girl, walked up to the Cru Info table in her dorm where we were handing out free water bottles and candy. She said she wanted some “free stuff” so we loaded her up with goodies and asked if she would fill out a “spiritual interest survey”. She gladly filled it out and headed up to her dorm room.
Fast forward a few weeks, Kitty and I are calling students who had filled out surveys and had indicated wanting more information about knowing God personally. Kitty calls Lilly, leaves a message but never hears anything back. A few weeks later, we are again trying to initiate with students. This time Kitty reaches Lilly by email and Lilly replies that “she can’t believe the crazy timing of this because a lot has been going on in her life that has made her think about God.” So, they set up a time to get together. Kitty brings along Eliza and Kelly, two other freshmen girls from her Bible study, so she could train them on how to share Christ.
Lilly walks up to the girls in the campus coffee shop, and immediately all the students recognize each other. Lilly shares with Kitty how she got really drunk with the Eliza and Kelly’s roommate and fell off the loft in the dorm room, hitting her head on the sink and splitting her face wide open…landing her in the hospital for a few days. Eliza and Kelly’s eyes are as big as saucers because they previously had been so frustrated with this girl for being such a party animal in their dorm…but now for the first time, they are seeing her hurt and her honesty in needing satisfaction in life. The girls talked and Kitty asked questions about the girls’ spiritual experiences, but then Lilly had to leave for class. The girls, now friends, asked Lilly to come to their Bible study and to hang out with them. As Lilly walked away Eliza and Kelly turned to Kitty and exclaimed that they had never known that Lilly might just need to know Christ in order for her to experience peace in her life.
That Tuesday Lilly and her sorority sister came to Bible study and participated in the discussion about the Samaritan woman at the well. It was incredible to see the girls share their hearts in front of 25 other freshmen girls. Later that night Kitty got this email-
I liked the Bible study lesson about how everybody should hear about God. It really made me think about a lot of things. I’d like to get together with you again to discuss it sometime SOON because as of now I am super confused about what I believe. I know that I have not yet accepted Christ into my life. I see how much His love has changed people like you and I envy you for that, and I think I want that. But part of me doesn’t feel ready to abandon all logic and blindly place all trust in the most mysterious thing in the universe… It doesn’t feel “right” for me to be that blindly trusting… and yet I can’t fight the feeling that I need to have Christ in my life in some way in order to feel fulfilled .. AGH as you can see I have a WHOLE lot on my mind that I need to flesh out… HELP!
Lilly has continued to come to Bible study and she continues to bring 3-4 friends with her! She is continuing to explore Christianity and Kitty, along with the freshmen girls are continually initiating with her. They are praying that before the end of the semester Lilly (and maybe her friends too!)will place her faith in Christ as her Savior and Lord.
It is because of students like Lilly that we have committed our lives to sharing the life-changing message of Christ with college students. God is at work, drawing students to Himself and transforming a generation of future leaders. Thank you for the part you have played during this past year to help us to reach students like Lilly (and the other more than 1500 that have heard the Gospel!)
Well, we sent that letter to supporters in December of 2007…and “Lilly” also known as Lucy, became a Christian only months later. From 2008-2010, she was discipled, assimilated into a local church, was cared for and upon graduation in 2011 was called into full-time ministry. She too has seen tons of changed lives as a result of God using her ministry. She now ministers alongside her husband at Western Kentucky University and I cherish her as well as the other spiritually sharp students who are serving Jesus by having a ministry in corporate America, in the home, etc! She and I recently stood together in front of 125 fraternity and sorority students at a Greek Leadership & Missions Trip to share our story and to train the students on how they too could share their faith. Talk about a great and mighty God!
That’s just ONE of the examples of God’s faithfulness to us that first semester. Can’t wait to share more! This post is part of a monthly-long blog re-launch and series I’m writing entitled “31 Days of Following Him & Loving Them.” See all other posts in this series by clicking here.