Written by Cynthia
“University has been a time of spiritual reformation for me. It was here that I learned what it means to own my faith and really live it out.” – Cynthia
I was stuck and disillusioned
I grew up in a loving Christian household. My parents, who were originally atheists, became Christ-followers shortly after I was born. As a result, I was raised to go to church regularly. Sundays were non-negotiable. Over time, youth group, prayer meetings, and Bible studies became the ‘Christian thing to do’ for me.
Although thankful for my Christian heritage, I found myself stuck and disillusioned because I was focused solely on what I was doing for God within the church walls. It left me feeling spent. Even my view of heaven was affected. I remember thinking, “I’m tired. When I die, it’s ok if I just end. I don’t want to continue this long, wearisome journey.”
“I’m tired. When I die, it’s ok if I just end. I don’t want to continue this long, wearisome journey.” – Cynthia
I lost my vision for life, mission and heaven
Heaven seemed monotonous and tiresome if it was anything like my life on earth. The more I pursued success in academics, the workplace, and religion, the more burnt out and exhausted I became. It felt like my life was one long chore.
My reasoning went like this: “If I succeed, I will become well-respected. In turn I will acquire many more responsibilities and become even more tired. Then I will have to work even harder to keep up my reputation.”
The alternate option was less appealing. “What if I fail? Well, that would bring a lot of shame, causing everything I had worked for to be in vain.”
So, either way, I was in a losing situation. In the end I pursued success, because I was afraid that failure would make me more vulnerable.
“If I succeed, I will become well-respected. In turn I will acquire many more responsibilities and become even more tired. Then I will have to work even harder to keep up my reputation.” – Cynthia
All was about to change
My perspective started to change in my first year with Power to Change (P2C). In that year I also switched churches. These two changes forced me to rethink my priorities, as I gave up my former commitments and responsibilities. Before making those changes, I felt constantly pressured to meet the expectations of my roles. After giving up those responsibilities, I had space to learn and grow in new areas spiritually. It was hard to let go, but it led to so much growth.
1. I am learning to share my faith
I met people in P2C who sincerely sought to live out their faith, even the hard parts of the gospel. In particular, I observed the courage and initiative of my fellow students to help their friends discover Jesus. I listened to their stories of evangelism and was challenged. However, I was still shy, reserved, and quiet. My reluctance made me feel guilty about not sharing Jesus with my friends.
Slowly, I began to discover that my friends were more open to talking about spirituality than I had thought. More importantly, God began changing my heart. He convicted me of my pride, my lack of trust, and my many stubborn ways. These barriers had kept me from sharing the gospel.
To my surprise, as I took steps to share the gospel, God was changing me. I found myself less stingy with my time and more gracious with my family. Most importantly, I found myself motivated by joy rather than obligation. I was experiencing the power of grace in my own life.
2. I am learning to confess and turn from sin
I started to realize the extent of my sin and felt the weight of it. Two moments in particular stand out. First I was impacted by this quote by C.S. Lewis, “Pride leads to every other vice.” I began to grasp just how offensive my pride and apathy was to God and felt convicted.
Then during one of our meetings, a P2C staff challenged us with this statement: “You’re a failure. Did you know that? That the gospel says you’re all failures?” These words, although painful to hear, struck a chord in me.
God wasn’t someone I could fit neatly into my life when I found it convenient and nice. I needed him to completely and utterly save me. It was when I recognized the depths of my sin that I began to rediscover just how amazing the good news of grace is.
Jesus was handed over to death for my sins and raised to life to make me right before God. Experiencing the gospel was both humbling and freeing. It humbled me to realize I could never do enough work for God to erase my guilt, but it also freed me from striving in vain to earn my worth by my achievements.
3. I am learning about the power of prayer
I also experienced the power of prayer. I got past the assumption that my prayers had to be eloquent. When friends took the time to listen to my situation and pray for me, I sensed the power of God mysteriously at work.
It was through times of prayer that I began to see the vision God had for me: my campus, my church, my city, and the world. It began with the asking, “God, what purpose do you have for me on campus?”
Yes, I was a student. Of course I should study. But as I prayed and listened, I saw how God wanted so much more than that for me.
Initially, I arrived on the university quoting the verse, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV). I wanted to glorify him in some high and mighty way.
Prior to my exposure to P2C, seeking God’s kingdom was equivalent to doing my ‘church’ things. Now, I began to realize it was much bigger than that. First, it was about me experiencing the gospel personally, and then helping others discover the good news of Jesus.
It included praying that those around me would know God: my friends, family, strangers, classmates, and faculty. It was about reaching out, sacrificing my time and comforts to have conversations with people, be present, journey and pray with them. It was about being on mission with God in what he was doing.
4. I am learning about heaven
That’s when I got excited about heaven. Heaven was no longer a place where I simply carried out an endless list of tiresome duties. Heaven was about all relationships made right, starting with me and God. It was about being able to spend eternity worshipping the one I love and value most. It was about belonging to his larger family, to share stories of encouragement and faith for ever and ever as we behold his glory.
Timothy Keller sums it up nicely. This is our hope: “Everything sad will become untrue, our good things will be made better, and our best things can never be taken away.”
“Everything sad will become untrue, our good things will be made better, and our best things can never be taken away.” – Tim Keller
5. I am learning how to lead my church in prayer, evangelism, and discipleship
As God grew these passions in me, I felt the burden to bring this same gospel culture back to my church. I had always been committed to serve in the church, but I had never been excited about taking on a leadership role.
However, as God grew me in evangelism, prayer, discipleship, and missions, I naturally took up opportunities to host workshops, plan events, and lead Bible studies. I didn’t see them as roles that simply needed filling, but as opportunities to build vision and equipping for my peers and church leaders.
6. I am learning how to help others grow
When I first joined the young adults group in my second year, they were just starting to get a more consistent group coming out. People didn’t seem to know each other on a deeper spiritual level. Ironically, at times I found it hard to even bring God into the conversation.
When I talked to people individually, many expressed a sincere desire to grow in their faith. As I got to know them, I encouraged them to seek God and invited them into the things he was teaching me. I still viewed church culture as hard soil. It was difficult to remain passionate when others were often skeptical or unenthusiastic about the things that God had deeply captivated me with.
Now in my last year of university, I marvel at how our group has grown and multiplied. Three years ago we were a group of 15-20 people. Our group has now grown to more than 40 people. I’ve seen my peers grow in their heart for prayer. It was virtually non-existent before.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still many areas of brokenness, but I see hope. People have come to faith. I’ve had the privilege of walking closely with a new Christian who suffered a lot in her past. I am learning with her how to experience the healing of the gospel in that. I have witnessed those who have grown up in the church walk away and come back. Some who were lukewarm are now desiring to grow in their faith.
Journeying with people is never easy or clear-cut. It’s messy! It’s long term! It’s tiring! But it’s so worth it. Being part of campus ministry has enabled me to serve out of a place of joy and abundance. I have been so blessed by those who chose to invest in me. I am trusting God to be a blessing to my church and the nations. How about you?