By Grace Mitchell, Hardin-Simmons University Marketing Staff Writer
At Hardin-Simmons University, the college years are not only a time for academic learning, but also a time for spiritual growth. In past years, ResLife has hired graduate students as chaplains in the dorms. This year, they have added a team of undergrads to serve as assistant chaplains in residence and encourage their peers in their spiritual walk.
One assistant chaplain works in each dorm, leading a weekly Bible study. They are also available for students who want to share a prayer request, talk about a struggle, or just go get coffee.
“The reason I wanted to be an assistant chaplain in residence was that I wanted to be able to pour into freshmen guys and invest in their lives,” said sophomore Zach Dean.
Dean says that assistant chaplains in residence help reach students in a unique way.
“Getting to live right there with the freshmen provides a lot more opportunities to get to know them in ways I wouldn’t get to if I was just a normal resident in Behrens,” he said.
Over the course of the semester, Dean has seen spiritual growth in his residents.
“They have a greater desire to know the Lord and to love those around them. I’ve gotten to see that both inside and outside of the Bible study,” he said.
Dean praised Student Life’s effort to engage freshmen in their transitions in life.
“Everything that HSU is doing not just in terms of chaplains, but also having year-long wranglers and peer mentors has been so helpful for freshmen. Having such a great variety of people helps create an environment of belonging where they can grow in their relationship with Christ,” he said.
Chaplains in residence are not only for freshmen. Junior Kelsey Doege, shared how her position helps sophomores as well.
“I think the sophomore slump is a real thing,” she said. “It’s possibly the hardest year for students. It’s the time when the excitement of freshman year wears off, and you find your real friends. I want to help sophomores build a foundation for a good spiritual community by being surrounded by girls who follow the Lord.”
While Doege sees her position as a mentoring role, she also feels like the sophomores have helped her grow in her faith.
“They teach me. They’re spiritually solid, wise girls. Sometimes they have better things to say in Bible study than I do.”
She feels that the job of assistant chaplain is a great opportunity for upperclassmen to practice discipleship in their daily lives.
“I think it’s good to give students this kind of position,” said Doege. “I love being able to minister to girls younger than me. I got to do that in my youth group back home, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to continue to do it here.”