Campus Ministry

There’s this belief rampant among churches that State Colleges and Universities are the devil’s lair.  We hear statistics that tell us that only one in four Christians graduate still holding on to Christ and we panic!  Now that I am busy wrapping up my third semester of college, I would like to address this issue. (You have to admit, of all the ways to put off studying for finals, this is a good one!) 

First of all, don’t put your faith in statistics.  They’re all skewed. 

Second–and more importantly– trust God.  Our fear of losing faith in college has led us down some paths that I’m afraid are even more damaging than the original problem.

There are three ways I have seen the Christian community attempt to combat what they view as satan’s hold on college students:  Campus Ministries, Christian Universities, and condemning (and not attending) higher education.

Campus Ministries: This is usually in the form of church-suppported groups that lead Bible studies or worship services on a regular basis somewhere on the college campus.  While they have good intentions (and many have good results), I am personally very leery of such organizations.  Their intent is to spread the gospel of Christ, but what usually happens is they are responsible for keeping all the Christian kids in a “click” or club.  They also tend to feed on a victim mindset, giving many young Christians the idea that they are unjustly being persecuted in college.  This does not encourage students, nor will it strengthen their faith.  It’s merely a biased plug that ministry leaders use their platforms to present.  Campus Ministries are also used as witnessing tools, giving Christian kids something to invite their unsaved classmates to.  To me, that is missing the point of witnessing.  No one wants to sit in your small Bible study, nor do they want to attend a worship service with you.  If they don’t believe God exists or if they are struggling in their faith, what makes you think that would do anything other than annoy or frighten them?  Witnessing isn’t about trying to pull people into your world; it’s about you going into theirs.  Jesus helped people right where they were at.  He didn’t invite them to the synagogue!

Christian Universities: This is nothing more than Christian segregation.  Jesus taught that we were to go out into the world, baptizing in the name of the Holy Spirit.  Surrounding yourself with people who believe everything you do is not fulfilling that goal.  It is doing the opposite.  There may be the idea that college is a training grounds before thrusting oneself out in the world, but I do not find that to be biblical.  The apostle Paul shared his testimony with people as soon as the blindness fell from his eyes.   Keeping yourself in a Christian community hinders spiritual growth.  If everyone there believes as you do, where is the challenge?  If I trusted that everything coming from my professors’ mouths was accurate, how would I learn to think for myself?  Also, I fear these institutions help the problem of State Universities being anti-faith.  If most strong Christians are off at the Christian college, who is left to teach and attend the secular ones?  There is no reason for State Universities to feel the pressure of being open to Christianity when they can safely assume that most strong Christians aren’t attending their classes.  Thirdly, I know of Christian colleges that are not-so-Christian.  The only difference between them and State Universities is the name on the door and the tuition fees.  That is the most harmful thing of all.  When your Christian colleges stop acting like Christians, heavy damage is done to the witness of Christ.  I don’t approve of Christian segregation, but if you’re gonna put the name on the door, you have a heavy responsibility to live up to it!

Condemnation:  I do not think going to college is a necessity.  If you  don’t need a degree for the job you desire, then don’t go.  Now, I LOVE college and I support Higher Education, but I’m realistic.  It’s not for everyone and no one should feel they must go.  However, if the only reason you are refusing this great opportunity is because someone has told you it is ungodly to attend…then I have a problem with your absence in our schools.   It’s not that you are denying yourself an education.  You can buy your own books and study everything you please without attending college.  But you are denying your faith the chance to grow.  If you don’t think that your faith can stand up under the pressure of college then what does that say about it?  Personally, you’re giving me the impression that you have a small, frail relationship with God.  I don’t want to see Christians living in fear.  It’s okay to allow yourself to be challenged and I sincerely hope that college does that for you!    

I’ve become really negative in this post, so let me end with what I do believe in, instead of just hitting everyone over the head with my disagreements.  I believe in living your life for Christ.  To me, a college ministry shouldn’t be an organization; instead it is what each individual Christian attending college lives out.  Let me tell you a personal story.  This semester I took a class called  “Archaeology and the Bible.”  Now, I attend a secular University.  The Bible isn’t discussed here in a good way.  I knew going into the class that it would be difficult.  Was it?  Yes.  But I have grown more in my faith than I ever dreamed.  And God was faithful to me.  Hebrews says that when things become too much for us to bear, God will provide a way out for us.  God  didn’t get me out of it, but He led me through it with the help of two teachers.

The first was a music teacher.  It just so happens that this man is a Christian who loves (and has studied) biblical archaeology.  (coincidental, huh?)  My lessons with him were scheduled once a week and just happened to land immediately after my archaeology class.  I got to go right from the stress and confusion of this class to having a fun, relaxing time playing music.  He always asked me how my archaeology class was going and he was very open when I’d ask him questions. 

The other influential person was an English teacher.  One day our class discussed literature and writing.  We talked about how hard it is to trust every word that someone writes as absolute truth.  How is one to know if they’ve embellished at all?  This was similar to what my archaeology class was wondering about the Bible, so I took the liberty of sending this teacher an e-mail after that class, asking him to explain the issue deeper for me.  I also explained my concerns regarding the Bible.  He could have ignored the Bible part, not wanting to touch a controversial subject, but he didn’t.  It turns out that he is a Christian.  Not only was he open about the fact that he personally did trust the Bible, but his witness throughout the semester was a huge relief for me.  He was a good professor who cared about the individuals in his class, not just their grades. 

Those two men have college ministries.  They may not realize it, but they do.  They aren’t at college with a hidden agenda, out to convert everyone.  They are simply using the talents God gave them to make a living and feed their families.  Yet in the process of doing so, they continue to impact people for the sake of Christ.  That is not something only professors should do.  It is something students should do, as well.  Not get together in little clubs.  Get involved where their talents deem is a good spot for them and SHINE.

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what I’m for

College was a huge stretcher for me.  I loved it–really, I did.  However, as much as I enjoyed the challenge, by the end of the year I have to admit there were things that I was tired of.  I was tired of always being on the defense. It seemed like every professor believed differently than I did when it came to . . . well, everything.  I don’t make a habit of starting arguments just to state my beliefs.  If I’m going to debate you, its because there is a vital, important reason the argument needs to be exposed.  That almost never happens in college.  So when I claim to be on the defense, its more or less watching what I say so I don’t appear to agree.  Example: I’m not a feminist, but I had to try to join the discussion in my Women’s Studies class without sounding all excited about the movement (that would be deceitful and lying) or being a mean jerk and cutting apart the beliefs that are very close to the other womens’ hearts.  I’m grateful that I was able to make friends with people whose views differ from mine.  But the mental game got wearing.  I was tired of trying to figure out other people’s beliefs and have them try to figure out mine.  I wasn’t the only student who didn’t feel it necessary to wear my heart on my sleeve over issues of gay marriage, abortion, capital punishment, feminism, media power, religion, etc. etc.  When you first meet people, no one cares, but over time, these issues start to come up.  I’m not ashamed of what I stand for; these issues would eventually come up with my friends and I found ways to say where I stand.  But I got sick of it.  I heard a song I’m going to share on the radio recently, and I was honestly amazed.  The message isn’t that rare.  Its just a guy stating all the little things in life that he stands for.  We’ve all done that.  But there’s this catch-phrase, of sorts, that amazes me:

You don’t have to guess what I’m against if you know what I’m for.

Wow.  Its simple, but yet so profound.  And it hit me with a huge force.  So maybe you and I disagree on some major, touchy issues. But if you examine the little things, those issues that actually make life what it is, I’ll bet we agree on a whole lot more.

I was only able to find a live, accoustic version of this song.  Normally I don’t like to play those, because the musicians always hit some wrong notes, but Pat Green did a decent job.  Please ignore the mistakes and listen to the powerful message!

Blessings,
Emily Grace

what I wasn’t expecting…

student and teacherMy first year of college is wrapping up for the year, and I am sitting back this weekend reflecting instead of studying for Monday and Tuesday’s finals.  When I chose what University to attend, one of my requirements was that it be a small campus.  I grew up on a farm, outside one of those idyllic American small towns, and I treasured that.  The thought of walking around a campus and never seeing the same face twice was appalling to me!  How can a person create relationships like that? I love my small campus, but I’ve come up with a problem that I never expected: getting too personal. 

Where is the line between student and professor relationships supposed to be drawn?  That is what I have been pondering.  Because, I must confess, as I pack up my books to move out for three months. . . I have realized that I am really going to miss several of my professors! 

Being a freshman is a weird feeling.  I spent 18 years with two parents.  They loved and nurtured me, giving me all the support I needed to become an adult.  Although at times that relationship was strained, as all teenage-parent relationships can be, I became very dependent on those two individuals.  Then, suddenly, college hit.  I moved away and was cut off from them.  Not permanently.  I still have contact with them through telephone and e-mail plus I go home often.  But there really was a type of severring that affected me much harder than I expect it to.  Because I am independent by nature, I thought becoming literally independent would be simple.  Not so. 

But then, when classes began, I found a type of surrogate parent in each of my teachers.  At such a small campus, my professors were able to learn my name and recognize my face in places outside of class and even greeted me off-campus.  I wasn’t just “student-X”; I became a person.

These new “parents” were able to teach me things that my actual parents could not.  For years, I have wanted to take English classes and now that my dreams are being fulfilled. . . how do I not idolize those who are enabling those dreams to come true?

I’ve come to realize that, also similar to the parental relationship, the professor-student one is a love-hate relationship.  There have been days when I have cursed them, as I listened to them use their platform to shatter my values, or as I spent hours trying to fulfill their outrageous demands for assignments that were unclear.  But then there are days when I sit in my desk laughing hysterically at something they said/did or when I admit I’m struggling and get a helpful one-on-one conference.

My entire world, for the past year, has revolved around my professors.  As a student, my main focus in life is passing their classes.  These individuals, with their strict grade books, hold power over my entire future.  At times it seems like I’m an actor doing whatever dance they demand of me and when I slip up, I’m on my knees begging them for a second chance.  Thankfully, none of my professors have taken advantage of that situation.  They’ve instructed, aided and supported me.  I appreciate that and admire them for it.

I found out yesterday that the choir director at my campus is leaving.  I am not in choir, so I don’t know him well, but I do know that he is one of the “favorite” teachers at my campus.  His choir students put on a farewell karaoke show for him.  There were gifts, laughter, tears . . . they were disappointed to see him go!  That says a lot about how great of a teacher he is.  Personally, I don’t feel that that is a breach of professionalism.  I think that students having affection for their teacher reflects good things in the teacher.

 This blog had an interesting article on student-professor relationships.  One thing the article said was this: “Love is a flame, and the good teacher raises in students a burning desire for his or her approval and attention, his or her voice and presence…”  In essence, there is a love between the student and professor, it just isn’t a sexual affair like Hollywood portrays.

On Tuesday I am done with school.  I am going back home to two parents, whom I love significantly more than any professor, but they will not challenge me and help mold my mind.  It will be a great summer and I will enjoy giving my brain a break.  But whenever I write, I will examine my words and find glimpses of the people who helped me improve.

Thank you to all professors who dedicate their lives to helping younger generations channel wisdom and creativity.

Blessings,
Emily

My Return

I took a break from blogging…a very lengthy one…and now that I feel ready to return, I am finding it hard to do so. One of the reasons I stopped blogging was because I scared myself.  When I first began my journey with blogging, it was a fun adventure that I went on with myself.  None of my family or friends knew that I blogged.  The people who left comments were strangers to me.  I learned from these strangers and had a wonderful time of examining myself and my beliefs. 

Then I took the next step.  The plunge. 

I began to “advertise” my blog a bit more.  Nothing extravagant, but I included it on a job application that asked for website experience, I posted my blog on facebook, I admitted to friends that I had one (if the subject came up).  It still was a very small number of people who knew about my blog and I certainly didn’t create a “following” of any kind.  I didn’t want one!  That wasn’t my purpose.  I had just grown tired of “hiding” it.

There was something disconserting, however, about people I run into throughout my day commenting to me about  my blog.  It only took a couple of comments–some good, some not–for me to get nervous.  I went back and re-read old posts and realized I was now allowing people in my life to see a side of me that I had always sheltered from them.   

I then became concerned that I was starting to sound like some “know-it-all” smart-alec.  I am very aware that, as a young college student, I do not have all the answers.  I am at the point in my life where I am seeking knowledge from other people and learning from their ways.  I am refining my beliefs and altering them.  What I claimed to believe in this blog two years ago may not be something I still agree with today!  Life changes, I change.  

And so I stopped blogging.  

It was quite convenient, actually.  I needed the time to focus on school and college this past semester.  The break has been good for other reasons, as well.  I feel like a new person.  I have new priorities, new concerns and new goals.  Some of those shifts have ocurred in the pages of this blog, but many didn’t come to full bloom until after I had stopped. 

However it happened, I have finally come to the place where I am ready for people–anyone, even my close friends–to see the real me.  I’m ready to once again take down my guard and give a sincere picture of my life and my values.  I do not know how often I’ll be blogging.  It is not my priority, and it will have to happen in between my life.  I have a new goal to just live life to the fullest.  Live my values, not preach them.  Live my goals, not just dream them.  Live my love, not just say the words. 

Here is a song that has ministered to me lately.  It sums up where I am right now.  May it bless you, as well!

Love,
Em

here we go again…

Well, I’m back in college.  Round two.  I have now attended the first session of all my classes and have a feel of what the next four months of my life will be like.  My classes this semester should both stretch me and rebuild my foundation in different areas.  Which is what I had in mind when picking these classes, so I guess that was successful.

For my British Literature class, I have learned that I have a difficult teacher.  Supposedly kids have made T-shirts that said “I survived [professors name]!”  Yikes!  He didn’t come off as harsh . . . but the first day, all that happens is lecture.  I guess time will tell a lot. . .  I’m now reading Beowulf for this class.  I haven’t gotten very far into it.  I hope it’s better than the movie portrays.  I never saw the film, but total blood and guts will get old.

 

My Musicianship for non-majorsclass makes me laugh.  Turns out this class is the basic of the basic.  As in “This is what we call a ‘whole note’.  It gets four beats.  Everyone clap that out with me now.”  lol.  I actually will really like this class.  The professor promises it will get harder, and my music could really use the reinforcement of beats and how to count!!

Then there’s my Women’s Studies class.  This I took because it was required.  This’ll stretch me, all right.  It’s going to be awkward, because I’m about as far from “feminist” as you can get.  I’ve already started referring to the class as my “feminist” class and my “feminist teacher”.  I like my teacher; from what I’ve seen from one lecture (not enough to judge, I realize) she seems like a sweet lady.  It’s also just a level 100 class, so it can’t be that hard, right?  haha…guess we’ll see.

Then there’s my English Tutoringclass.  This should be my favorite!  This will help me correct papers (and should then improve my own writing) as well as qualify me to work in my school’s writing lab, helping other student’s with their work. YAY.  I’m very excited.  Nice teacher.  I already know some people from the class.  The assignments look like fun.  This should be the highlight of my semester.

Then I still have violin lessons and Orchestra rehearsals going on throughout the week.  That takes up a about 5-6 hours a week.  I don’t enjoy Orchestra, but I learn too much from it to quit.  Playing difficult classical pieces in a big setting like that really improves my playing, so I’ll strive on.  As for lessons, I love those!  My teacher is wonderful.  He’s so much fun and sincerely helps me without belittling my playing.

So, there’s my thoughts on week #1 of semester #2!

a story for y’all!

Once upon a time there was a girl in college.  She was a freshman.  This freshman and her roommate decided to have some fun one weekend by going to the homecoming dance.  They spent hours getting ready, curling their hair . . .

and putting on make up.

 

When they were all done, they prepared to go to the dance!

They found, though, that a body can only dance to the same beat for so long.  However, after putting all that work into getting ready, they didn’t just want to call it a night!  Instead, they decided to take the bus to a late movie!

They sat at the bus stop waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting.

It turns out that the bus actually does stop, eventually, and they were too late.  All they got for their efforts was getting chilled in the cold and watching a drunk man stumble around warning everyone not to step on his cigarette while he tried in vain to find it.

The girls came up with another plan.  There was a friend who was getting off of work late that night.  Maybe he’d like to see a movie?  After some texting, it was decided that the friend would simply call when he had the chance and the night would be decided then.  The girls were so excited!  They went to freshen up and “re-did” their hair and makeup.

They waited and waited, but the phone did not ring!  They decided they needed some coffee.  Being poor college students who had paid in coins to get into the dance, (pathetic) they pooled their money together to come up with the 50 cents the machine took for coffee. (Very cheap, but still good coffee.)

They ended up with 58 cents. . . enough to share one cup of coffee.   🙂    However, it turns out that the machine did not take pennies and did not like to give back complete change!  So now, robbed by the coffee machine and still without coffee, they continued to wait for the friend to call.

He did.  Only to break the sad news that he already had plans.  😦

Finally exhausted and resigned to their fate, the girls scanned the phonebook for delivery pizza places open at 1:00 a.m.  Not many.  By stroke of luck, they stumbled on Dominoes, which delivered until 2:00.  Ordering plenty of food, thanks to “student specials”, they waited for the delivery man. 

Finally, he arrived with their food!

After indulging on too much food and getting very minimal amounts of sleep, the girls woke up feeling sick.  [will refrain from picture, as to not scare children.]  They officially had a “non-alcoholic” version of a hangover.

They learned a valuable lesson, however:  having fun in college while staying sober (and legal) is very difficult to do!

The End
🙂

too much of a good thing?

Why are Americans so selfish?  What is it about our wonderful country that has turned it’s people into far-less-than-wonderful? 

Try eat this, for example:

I’m heading off to college in a little over a month.  My world has revolved around the awful hassle of college-prep.  There are tests to take, counselors to see, $$$ deposits to make, supplies to buy, people to meet, roommates to decide on.

I’ve complained about how stupid the whole system is . . . I mean, c’mon, when people go to college to GET DEGREES in how to counsel kids on the college entry process. . . that oughta say something. 

I went on a missions trip this past month (to Texas, so technically I stayed in America, but saw a very poverty-stricken section right by the Mexican boarder) and my friend went on one to Italy.  Here’s what we decided.

The less you have, the more grateful you are. 

I AM GOING TO COLLEGE!!!  There’s never been a question on it.  Everyone in America has the opportunity for a college education.  On her Italy trip, my friend met a boy her age who was so thrilled for her “opportunity” to attend a University. . . it was his dream to do so, but as of now he’s working in a factory doing hard labor that is literally breaking his back. 

So what if it’s a headache to make sure all the paperwork is in?  There may be no one in this country who can afford a college education . . . but there’s also no one in this country who CAN’T afford it.  The scholarships and loans given out nowadays enable everyone with a desire to be able to go. 

So why am I complaining?  (and I’m not the only one who does so!) I am starting down the road on my dream of becoming a published author!!  That’s EXCITING!!  Of course it takes effort, but doesn’t that make the end just that more dear??

I should have been able to see that earlier . . . we ALL should be able to re-allign our priorities.

As Americans, do we have too much?

Give me your thoughts on this one. . .

Gratefully,
Emily

p.s. Just to clarify, since I have made a lot of political comments on here, this entry has NOTHING to do with Phil Gramm’s recent comments on America being a “nation of whiners”.  TOTALLY UNRELATED.  These are thoughts I’ve been having for awhile on our values in general. I’m not discussing the economy or politics or anything like that.  I haven’t even read that much about Gramm’s comments and don’t know all he said. So please don’t misinterpret.  Thank you.