It seemed as though today was going to be just another one of those days, you know the ones where life doesn’t go your way? All of my work apparently had evaporated, and I was unprepared for the day and woke up exhausted. I even took the time to bake chicken this morning for our salad, and walked out the door without our lunches! Scatter-brained, I got to campus and prayed that I would make it through the day without any other issues. College ministry is such a weird beast, and it definitely has a learning curve I’ve heard of but wasn’t expecting… Every time a student cancels on me (which, let’s be honest, is a daily occurrence) I find myself asking the question “well what now?” There are always things I should be doing, but what takes priority? And then, it seems as though God just shoves an opportunity in your face. One of my students, Molly, had just finished class and came to my table.
“Let’s go talk to people about spiritual things,” Molly said.
Yes. I love students like her. And, here in Portland, she’s one of the few. We pray, and, due to the rain, scope out our incredibly limited selection of people to actually talk to.
“What do we say to people? I’ll say it. I just want to know what we say.”
Seriously, can everyone be like Molly? Most students you are begging to simply join you as you share your faith. Molly is jumping right in. I just read an article about how us talking about God gives Him glory, even if no one responds. That us stepping out in faith and speaking His truth brings Him glory. It’s an amazing concept, and one that I’m trying to wrap my brain around. I think of this as we approach one girl.
“Hi, we are with a club on campus and we like to talk to people about their opinions of life and spirituality do you have some time to talk?”
Ah, Molly. The rapid pace of the question catches the girl off guard. She sweetly tells us she has to leave in 10 minutes. No problem. On to someone else. We spot a table with two girls at it. We approach. Apparently Molly knows the one girl, and this is her intro:
“Do you guys wanna talk to us, like about God?”
Amazingly, the girl says yes. Well, the other girl is visibly uncomfortable. That’s ok. We learn their names are Cambri and Natalie. We make small talk about their majors, their dreams, their aspirations. Natalie leaves. We continue to talk to Cambri about life. She has dreads, and so we found some common ground there. Cambri needs to blow her nose, so she leaves the table for a minute. Molly looks at me.
“I feel like I’m driving a car in first gear and I don’t know how to shift it.”
“Do you want me to shift it? No, you shift it. (This is me, learning how to be a good discipler.) Just ask her if she has any spiritual background.”
Cambri returns. Molly pops the question. Well done, Moll. Cambri begins telling us how she went to a Christian school during grades K-6, but how she doesn’t like “religion” because not everyone connects with God in the same way. These churches just have rules and regulations trying to get you to worship God like they do. And when you don’t, they get angry and churches fight. She is very open and you can tell her spirituality is important to her. She begins to tell us about her boyfriend’s dad who is teaching her about a God who is more personal. She is currently reading “The Shack” to try and learn more about God. I have this tool that’s called “Perspective Cards.” It’s basically a stack cards with different categories that helps us form someone’s world view. The first set of cards is “Who is God?” She picks Pantheism with a “splash of Monotheism.” Next, human nature. “Neutral” and “More good than bad,” even though she admits that most people probably end up more bad then good. Jesus is “Creator and Savior.” (During these conversations, there is always a running monologue in my head of questions…and all I could think of for this one was “what??? That’s not actually what she believes. That’s just the Christian schooling coming out. She doesn’t even know what she’s talking about.”) We move on. What is the source of spiritual truth? “Truth is relative” and “self discovery.” Ahhh.. there it is. This is more like the answers I’ve been expecting. The girl has dreads, a nose ring, and never plucks her eye brows. She definitely is a hippy, so of course truth is relative. Let’s just all love each other. We discuss, then move on. What is the purpose of life? This was so amazing… she picked many different ones, but admitted that she tended to “live for self” more than anything else. This category also tripped her up… she just stared at the cards, clearly conflicted and deep in thought. We talked for a while, and then I asked her the big question.
“Cambri, if you died today and stood before God, and He asked you ‘why should I let you into My heaven,’ what would you tell Him?”
Cambri looked at Molly and I. “Well I….” Suddenly, out of nowhere, her eyes fill with tears. “I’m so sorry guys… I don’t know why I’m crying…” She went on to say that she was a pretty good person and that she would be an “asset” to God’s team. (We all three laughed at that one. I guess we realized it was silly.) We had been talking for over an hour, and usually that’s a good cutoff point. I was about to ask her if we could meet up again and keep talking what she said “What do you guys think? What could you say to God?”
Ok, that’s the perfect intro to the Gospel. I really couldn’t have said it any better myself. So, we jumped into the four spiritual laws. My favorite quote from the next hour was when we turned the page from “Our condition” (unable to reach God. There’s a huge gulf in between us.) to “God’s response” (sending Jesus to bridge the gap.). Cambri looks at me and says “Wow. This is literally the best possible solution to our problem.”
I wish I could tell you that Cambri became a Christian today. I really don’t know. Our conversation was cut short (well… it was 2 hours long, so not really cut short) but she took the booklet and we are going to meet again next week. Pray for Cambri. Pray that God reveals Himself to her and that she steps from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light!
“I know that you guys talked to me for a reason. God had a plan in all of this” – Cambri