After 10 years of working in student ministry, we’ve grown fond of the flow of a school year. Early spring semester is my favorite season – students have already grown comfortable with each other and been drawn into community, but there’s still half of the year to go, and so much time for God to move.
Here are 3 ways we saw God working in January & February.
1. He brought down walls of shame
At chapter retreat in January we studied Genesis 1-3 & talked about what it looks like to live as men & women created in God’s image. Eric & I ran separate discussion groups for the men & women on Saturday night. We watched as students dared to share deep hurt and sin with each other, and receive acceptance & encouragement from their friends.
Its a breath-taking, special moment where a student shares brokenness for the very first time. You can see that they expect condemnation – rejection, But then they are surrounded with love and comments of “you are not alone!” from the others, and their fear begins to melt away. I love that so much of our job is about creating space for these moments, and seeing what God will do.
The momentum of retreat spurred on deep sharing once we returned to campus, as well. One student bravely shared the freedom he’d found in Christ amidst sexual brokenness and confusion about sexual identity at large group testimony night. A freshman woman was so encouraged by his openness that she chose to share her own addictions with her small group several weeks later.
God is truly bringing dark things into the light and dispelling the power of hidden shame.
2. He sought after lost sheep
Sometimes God moves quickly and surprises us – other times we get to see the fruit of long-term prayers. All of fall semester I had been praying for two women – one lost in a life of partying & alcohol, the other deep in depression. At times I had despaired over my own limitations and my inability to witness them first hand (I was meeting regularly with their close friends, who were caring for them directly). However, God showed that he is not limited, and both women committed their lives to Christ at chapter retreat!
Eric and I were honored to also attend InterVarsity’s Greek Conference in Charlotte, NC in February. While we were primarily there to lead worship, we also had several students attend the conference. Two of our students made major recommitments – one had chosen to walk away from his faith in the last few years. He admitted that his original decision to be a witness in his fraternity had faltered, and he’d given himself over to a life that was far from God. He felt strongly that Jesus was calling him back, and he needed to answer the call.
Seeing our Greek colleagues in action was also encouraging to us, and we left the conference more motivated to reach out to fraternity and sorority students at CNU. Please pray for us as we train leaders to run house ministries and for a ripe harvest in the Greek community here.
3. He provided times of fun & laughter
Between the heavy work loads that accompanied these 2 retreats, we got A LOT of snow here in Newport News. (Well, a lot for us!) 2 major storms canvassed the area – one dropping 6 inches and the other 8+ inches. While it left us feeling a bit disconnected from our students due to campus being closed, it also provided great times of fellowship for our students and our family. We’re grateful that God gives good gifts, and that sometimes those come in the form of snow fall, sledding, and a hot bowl of soup.