Saturday, January 23, 2016

Making a Home a Hole: Why it is Critical We Leave the College Bubble to Serve Others

Note: This post is directed at Christian college students (particularly but not exclusively the UNW community, which is not because I think UNW has this problem more than other colleges do; I am just writing from my point of view which is the Northwestern campus)

The "UNW Bubble" is a very real thing. Not only is it real, but it is dangerous. When students choose to spend their college years mainly within the UNW borders, they lose out on so much. When students choose to make their campus their world they miss out on the chance to experience the world and make an impact in it. I never recognized the dangers of the "UNW Bubble" until I moved onto campus this year. In this post, I hope to help you see that the college bubble is truly a problem, college is the perfect time to serve, and serving is a beautiful thing. I hope this post encourages you to break the bubble by serving and will inspire you to encourage others to do the same. Without further ado, I want to share a story with you of how I have seen the college bubble hold people back from experiencing life that is truly life.

The first time I truly noticed it all was Halloween night this year. The other leaders of Seeds of Hope decided to cancel it for the evening because of the number of people who weren't going to be coming. I felt it on my heart to try to get a group together to go out anyhow so my lovely roommate Breeanna and I decided to invite people to it. We knocked on every single door in the building, so between the two of us we knocked on over 200 doors of rooms with 3 people each. There were 600 possibilities plus more we contacted. Guess how many showed up. Three. (Now, we were absolutely grateful for the three we had. It was the most unbelievable night of ministry I have ever had and if not another one comes around that tops it I won't be too surprised.) That means our success rate in getting Christian college students to spend their Saturday night spreading the love of Christ to our brothers and sisters that evening with us was 0.5%. Now, I am not good with percentages but I know that it is not a good percentage. Yes, it was Halloween. Whatever, I get it (actually I don't) but the excuse that it was Halloween and people may have had plans doesn't fly with me. It doesn't because when I looked in most of their eyes I didn't see any sign of regret at not being able to come or any slight interest even. Breeanna and I could tell that many people were waiting for the moment they could close the doors in our faces and continue doing what they were doing. Sure, many people asked questions, congratulated us, and some even said they would pray for us and those people lifted our spirits. But they don't make up for the sheer volume of Christians in our school who looked at us as though spreading the love of Christ to others that night was the last thing they were going to be doing. It honestly broke my heart. Two months before I was excited to move onto campus because I would finally be somewhere where everyone actually cared and I was finally facing the fact that many of them don't. (Don't get me wrong, since moving to Northwestern I have found an incredible bunch of people who are passionate about loving people the way Christ loves them and they inspire me and bless me. I just wish there were even more of them.) On our trek around the building one girl that we talked to shared my thoughts and feelings to a tee. She said that she sometimes cries at the number of people who do not care. Anger, heartbreak, and confusion take turns owning my heart when I think of all the Christians who choose to spend their entire college careers doing Bible studies and attending chapel and talking about God yet never spend a minute stepping out of their comfort zones to bravely serve Him and His people. Because the truth is this: every moment you spend stepping out of your comfort zone for the sake of the Gospel, every minute you spend serving Him will absolutely be worth it. The past semester has been probably the greatest few months of my life and many of my favorite moments were spent serving. I can honestly say that I love the weekends because I get to serve God wholeheartedly with my friends by caring for His people without worrying about getting my homework done for the next day. As second semester begins I see an opportunity for more students to escape that "bubble" and experience a more beautiful and fulfilling life.

College brings a unique opportunity to serve others and make a real impact in the world. The time to do this is now. Once you have a job and family, the opportunities to do these kinds of things are harder to find time for in the schedule so that is why you should take the time for it now. Another great thing is that the cities neighboring college campuses are amazing places for ministry. Especially with big cities filled with hurting people, the opportunities are endless. And most of the time you don't even have to go into the cities to find those opportunities. Many are sitting and waiting for you on college campuses. UNW has many campus ministries including Living Hope (which works with kids), Way in the Wilderness (which works with people of other cultures), Writing in the Sand (which works with women who are victims of sex-trafficking and abuse), Streetlight (which works with homeless and otherwise impoverished people), and Seeds of Hope (which works with all types of people). I hope wherever you are you find a ministry to get plugged into.

There is no greater thing to be doing than serving. If you need proof, here are 3 reasons...
1. Jesus called us to love our neighbors and serving the people of your own college's city is a great way to do that. When you are focused on studying, going out and serving is a great reminder of your true calling.
2. It is refreshing. Doing what God calls you to can be messy but it can also be beautiful. After a week of preparing presentations, studying for exams and quizzes, reading lots of books, and going over Greek flashcards, I can't wait to serve. Even when going in with a mindset of serving, I always seem to be the one blessed in the end.
3. It is a great way to connect and bond with friends. Not only that but is truly a wonderful way to make friends. After just a few weeks at Streetlight I knew I had a family and my ministry friends have been a core part of my life ever since then. When I look around a car full of people I just spent the evening serving with, I know that these are the moments I will treasure the most from my years here at Northwestern.
4. You see the world in a whole new way. You meet people you otherwise never would have and you grow as a result.

Note for Ministry Majors
For you, this part of the college experience might seem obvious. Serving is an essential part in preparing you for ministry. Not only will you get the real-life ministry skills you will need in the future but serving is also critical in the preparation of the heart for full-time ministry. If you think you don't have time to get involved because of the amount of homework you have, then consider your weekday classes as only half of preparing you for ministry and serving as your other half. It will change how you spend your time and perhaps you will find a little more time in your schedule for it.

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