As someone who spends most of their day on a college campus without going to classes, my heart breaks for the students around me who have no realization that the very God who created the enormities of the universe cares deeply for them and wants to have a relationship with them.
Here at Tarleton State Universtiy, some of our students have felt God call them to equip their fellow peers in how to talk about their faith with students on campus so people can know of this incredible God. Every Monday night, students gather at the BSM, spend time in prayer, and then are sent out on campus.
As we are sent out, we are sent two by two, usually male and female just because it makes it easier to talk to either gender. My partner and I were having trouble this particular afternoon finding students to have conversations with, so we decided just to walk the campus and pray for people we saw heading to class. We soon came upon a student studying one of the campus maps, which is odd in itself since Tarleton is a pretty small campus. We introduced ourselves and asked him what he was looking for.
Mark* was searching for the science building (a building he hadn't been to in the two years he had been here) where I spent a majority of my four years as a student so we volunteered to walk him there. We made a little small talk about what he studied (Computer Science) and where he was from and then went into the science building to find his classroom.
That Monday, we were using pictures to let people tell them about themselves through specific questions we ask so we asked if he had a couple of minutes so we could ask him some questions and he gladly agreed. We sat down at a table that I had inhabited many times to study and walked through the questions we were asking: 1) What's a picture that describes your life right now, 2) What's a picture that you would like to describe your life, 3) What's a picture that describes who God is to you, 4) What's a picture you would like to describe who God is to you. The whole process takes about 6 minutes or so, but 15 minutes into Mark's conversation, we had only gotten past question 1.
There were many things going on in Mark's life that he wasn't sure about and had wanted to talk about it with someone but really didn't have any friends close enough to talk to. So we continued to walk through the questions and hear more of his story. It finally came to the questions that were meant to understand where he comes from spiritually. But he "hadn't really thought of God much."
I asked him how would he describe God and he really didn't have an answer. After trying to simplify the question, I finally asked him did he understand how Jesus comes into the equation and he had never heard of him! Despite living in the buckle of the Bible belt in Stephenville, Texas, there are students on TSU's campus that have never heard who He is!
Realizing that my partner and I needed to back way up. I asked to explain who Christ is using paper and drawing out how Jesus serves as the bridge between God and humanity. As I explained it, he kept asking me to explain certain points, showing that he was paying close attention! After we had finished, I asked him what he wanted to do with all of this new information. He realized the enormity of what we had talked about and asked if he could have some time to digest all of it. We, of course, agreed and concluded our hour-long conversation by exchanging information and setting up a meeting!
The following Friday, we met and continued talking about all of what the Bible says. We have begun meeting every Friday to talk about these things and he has started coming to our weekly worship service called 402! This month at 402, we are talking about common questions people have about God, Jesus, and the Bible and why you can believe it, so God's timing is obviously perfectly orchestrated! Please pray for Mark and I as we continue to dive into what the Bible says and unpacking his questions and dismantling some of his confusion!
*Name has been changed
Warren Ethridge serves as a campus missionary at Tarleton State University through Go Now Missions.