Sunday, March 25, 2012

loving college life: part 1

Joy. Momentum. Growth. Ministry. These words capture this semester for me. While last semester I could barely keep my head above water and my heart above panic mode, this semester I've been living the dream.

Deep down I hoped that being on a college campus would offer opportunities to connect with undergraduate students. Wheaton students are bright, talented, passionate, intentional, (twitterpated!) and full of energy. And I love being around them.

(So do my kids. The campus restaurant and the game room are favorite destinations. And so is the gym. Check out Eliana and her friend Gwyn on the climbing wall in the gym!)

A Junior approached me after my talk at missions conference and wondered if we could have lunch. She's headed overseas for the first time and wanted to talk about how to live well in another culture. A Freshman introduced herself to me after an event last week. The girls and I had just participated in "The American Race," an interactive simulation of what it's like to be a minority in the U.S. She appreciated a comment I made during the debriefing session. A Senior and I talked last week about the factors involved in his decision of which seminary to attend (one of his options is Gordon-Conwell). Teaching twice for Dr. Block and giving another presentation last week extended my network even further.

College life is messy. Students say and do some of the most unbelievably immature things sometimes. But the campus leaders (both administration and students) take each opportunity to talk openly about what it means to live in a diverse community and love each other well. The energy around here is palpable. Students are fired up against the global slave trade and excited about sustainable agriculture. A half-dozen teams spent their spring breaks serving needy communities around the country. Students meet to pray for the world and for each other. They tutor refugee children in local schools. A steady stream go overseas to study and reach out.

One of my favorite Christian artists, Sara Groves, was here in January. Her heart for God and for ministry epitomizes the ethos of Wheaton College. She was just as real and vulnerable in person as her music would lead you to expect, and Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to worship with her and hear her heart. Sara is living proof that you don't have to have "arrived" in order to reach out to others. She sings from the midst of her own struggles. As she says, she's "broken, but grateful." Though she is a big name in music, Sara's travel schedule is filled with benefit concerts for groups like World Vision and International Justice Mission. We don't have to wait until we have a degree in hand, or the counselor says we're healed, or the bank account is in the black to start reaching out. Ministry starts when we realize our own brokenness, recieve the love of God, and begin extending it to others.

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