On Sunday, I graduated from college (hence the subtitle change to the blog) and in a couple of weeks I will receive my certification to teach English to high school students. It’s an exciting yet scary time of life. Even though I know that God has equipped me to teach and he’s given me a passion for English, right now I am not going to teach full time. Beginning in January of 2015 (which is approaching very quickly), I will gain the title of Campus Missionary Intern for the Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) on my college campus. It will give me an opportunity to pour back into the group that has given me so much over the past couple of years while also giving me some time to get quiet and still before God and wait for directions.
As I step into this new role, I want to take a moment to look back on what I’ve experienced while at college. Recently the college asked me complete a survey about my college experience. It asked questions about how much I feel the college has taught me in several different areas, but my struggle was deciding whether the college had taught me some of these core values (such as respect of diversity) or I had learned them other places during my time in college. I know I’ve grown over these past four and a half years, but so many other groups and organizations besides the college have impacted me.
The more I thought about that survey, the more I realize that there is no good way to differentiate who taught me what, but the two institutions that were a stronger influence than the college as an institution were church and BCM. This is not to say that college has not influenced me greatly, but I feel that the impact church and BCM have made on my life will go farther in this life and eternity. They have worked together to teach me about myself and about my faith. There were many times that, without these two organizations and the people who comprise them, the stress of classes and work would have sunk me. It was beneficial to have a church family whom I could call whenever I was sad, stressed, or some combination of the two. They have also been there to support me the numerous times my car has decided to give out these few years. The church also provided a place of refuge. Yes it was a time commitment to attend services three times a week, but the benefits outweighed the cost. There were actually many times I felt more prepared for life after going to church than when I went in. Of course, in all honesty, it wasn’t the church or the people who did that; God worked through the church to provide peace, strength, and growth.
The BCM became part of my life freshman year, but it wasn’t until my first senior year that I began attending meetings. During freshman year, I joined a dorm group that met once a week to study the Bible, and it was led by a college student and a lady from the church I ended up attending. Actually it was because of this group that I began attending my church. They both went there and made me feel more welcome than I felt at other churches. That group was small but it provided me with yet another source of encouragement, refuge, and connection. The leader left college after one year but I began leading the group for a while. Through the experience of leading the group, I learned about teaching and leading, and I learned to really listen to God. After returning from England, I began attending BCM with my best friend because we weren’t getting as much from the other Bible study we had been attending previously. In this group, I found a role model and many great friends. Mondays are the best days of the week now because I know I get to go to BCM.
All of this that I’ve said leads to one point. The value of connecting with other believers far outweighs anything I could have learned in a classroom at college. While coming to college provided the opportunity to make these connections, this wasn’t something required by the college. That’s why I am super excited to step in as CMI; I want to encourage the kind of connections I have found through church and BCM in other college students. I want them to know that it wasn’t anything the college provided that made me who I am; only through God and his people have I been able to survive college and life. As I step forward into the next chapter of life, I step with confidence knowing that God is already there.