My first three years of university were empty.
I had very few friends and wasn’t involved in anything outside of classes. I was anxious and depressed. By my fourth year, I was spending most of my nights downtown or at parties thinking I would be able to find meaningful relationships in those places.
Back when I started university I was not a Christian, even though I had grown up going to church and had been active in my church youth group. I had never understood the gospel or what it meant to follow Jesus. Without a solid faith foundation, starting university and living in residence challenged what I believed, and my belief in God slipped away.
By November of that final year I was tired of my attempts at happiness and stressed by the uncertainty of what I was going to do after graduation. Unexpectedly around the same time a friend from high school invited me and another friend to a Power to Change meeting. When I showed up I was overwhelmed with how welcoming and strong the community was. The following week, a guy named David invited me to join some guys to eat chicken wings.
Over the next month, I started to build genuine friendships with those same “wings” guys. I told myself I didn’t have to believe in God, but that I’d keep going for the friendships. At the start of December, David challenged me to join him at P2C PLUS, Power to Change’s national conference in Toronto. It was a big commitment and I didn’t have a lot of money, so I told him that if I could somehow afford it I would come.
A few days later, I received an email from my university with the news I had received a bursary. And just like that, I had the funds to go.
“I told myself I didn’t have to believe in God, but that I’d keep going for the friendships.” – Keith L
On the second day of the conference I heard the story of the prodigal son from the Gospel of John, and it changed my life.
The prodigal son thought that the life he could make for himself was better than what his father could make for him. He ended up broke, and wanted to come back home hoping he could at least be a servant to his father. But the father welcomed him home, even throwing a party!
As I heard those words everything clicked for me.
I realized that I would never be satisfied with the life I was pursuing. Suddenly I understood that the world’s offerings were empty. Relationships and status couldn’t increase my worth, but I had an eternal worth through God. Joy flooded me in that moment and I felt a weight lifted off of me. I understood that God was welcoming me back even though I had done nothing to deserve it.
“I understood that God was welcoming me back even though I had done nothing to deserve it.” – Keith L
Returning to school in January, my life was changed. The new sense of security that I had in Christ continued to deepen and I began to experience God as the only true satisfaction in life. I got involved in a small group Bible study and experienced deeper community. The students in P2C continually encouraged me to grow in my new relationship with Jesus.
In February, David challenged me again: a mission trip to Montreal that month. I said yes, and there I developed skills in how to share my faith with others and grew in confidence.
The growth didn’t stop there.
Back on campus I continued to grow alongside my new P2C friends, learning from them and pursuing Jesus together. We discussed God’s Word together, which challenged me to think more seriously about it. They continuously challenged me to grow as a follower of Jesus and helped me figure out what following God looks like.
When I think of this group of people at P2C, I remember what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Whether it’s in how they talk with each other, how they encourage one another, how welcoming they are, how they put their trust in the Lord in difficult times, how they give thanks to the Lord for the ways they’ve been blessed by him, these friends are imitators of Christ. Getting to know them and doing life with them has been the clearest picture of what it means to be a faithful servant of Jesus.
Power to Change has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. It’s exciting to know that the Lord will continue to use Power to Change to reach more students like myself.