Sometimes it’s easy to forget that faculty are a key part of our mission field. We might wonder what impact, if any, a group of undergraduate students could have on the faith development of a faculty member, particularly one who may be hostile to the Christian faith.
That’s why I’m so excited about this story from a staff member in our region. She writes:
Last May we saw five students from our LaFe Ministry come to faith at Basileia, our year-end leadership conference. One of those students, Valeria, could not help but share with everyone what happened, including Wanda, her summer internship partner and friend. This caused Wanda to join us at our Fall Conference, along with another classmate, Madelin. At that conference they committed their lives to Christ and established a new small group.
Val, Wanda and Madelin all take a “living and learning” class together. On the drive home from that weekend, knowing that their professor always starts Monday night class by asking what they did that weekend, they decided they would share about Christ. So one by one as she asked, they stood and said, “I encountered Jesus this weekend.” This testimony and solidarity really struck the professor and the class which then began a conversation around Christianity.
Prof. R was decidedly NOT Christian, and had spent years in her social work classes and studies saying as much, even to her good friend and fellow Social Work major, Kristina, who is an alumna leader of the InterVarsity chapter. But after those students shared, she was curious and I was surprised but delighted when she showed up at my church one Sunday with Kristina.
For several weeks Prof. R would show up, ask questions, blown away by who Christ said he was and the care He had for this world and how we as His believers were engaging with that. She even came on her own when Kristina couldn’t come.
I watched tears roll down Prof. R.’s face as our pastor explained the gospel and invited us to respond and believe. I knew God was inviting her. When I asked her what she thought, she said she knows there is something real here but she is not quite ready to say yes. So I prayed for her and shared my prayer with the students.
As part of the “living learning” class, the students and the professor took a trip to Mexico over Winter Break. She was impressed by how these Christian students responded with grace and forgiveness to the conflicts that arose when strong personalities live together for ten days. She admired their insight as they discussed issues of education and poverty that stemmed from their faith.
Upon returning from Mexico she came to church again. It was an odd service that day—a prayer service with no sermon. I watched Prof. R engage respectfully and appreciate the willingness of these believers to engage personally and physically with God. I invited her and Kristina to lunch but Prof. R said she needed to go think for bit.
After church I got a phone call from Kristina. Prof. R had just called her saying she wants to give her life to Christ!
Let’s continue to encourage each other to be bold in witness to students and faculty!