Life is a beautiful struggle. Whether that struggle is handed to us, found within us, or makes us feel hopeless, there is beauty to be experienced through it.
That was the message that about 135 students came away with after attending an outreach event at the University of Saskatchewan this past October. The event was called Beautiful Struggle, and featured spoken word and musical performances by Legacy One, an urban arts collective that empowers people to realize their potential, overcome adversity, and become influencers in their community.
Beautiful Struggle was hosted by the Campus Christian Collective, a coalition of Christian student groups that P2C – Students belongs to at the U of S. The hope for this event was that Christian students would be able to use it as an opportunity to engage their friends on campus with the message of how Christ can make life’s struggles beautiful. Not only did the event provide that opportunity, but God worked through it to do so much more.
“P2C at the U of S has never been part of an outreach done this way, the artsy kind,” says Anders Hunter, a student at the U of S. Outreach events in the past have leaned more heavily on apologetics themed talks, so putting on an event like this was completely new territory. “It was a between the snapping and the rapping that I looked around and thought, ‘I can’t believe we are doing this! This is a really cool way to represent Christ and up the game a little bit,’” Hunter recalled.
This style of outreach particularly spoke to Katie Richelle, a bachelor of arts student at the U of S. “I’m a musical person so I always find I connect more through music,” Richelle explains. “I’ve always found that spoken word music — the way it’s told — is always emotional and vulnerable.”
Richelle also connected in particular to the theme of having struggles handed to her.
“That week I had gone through a struggle handed to me. I found that going to the event solidified my belief that even though I may feel alone, God is always there. Even when you feel cut off from him, or you feel pressure from society, or you’re experiencing pain, God is there and he is working through it,” Richelle said. The performances at the event helped her realize the importance of vulnerability in her relationships.
“Legacy One is not afraid to be vulnerable, which is something a lot of people are afraid to do,” she shared about the urban art collective. “[People] are afraid to share their pain, and that’s pretty much everything they do. Honesty can be the catalyst for change.”
Richelle also realized that this demonstration of vulnerability could open up avenues for important conversation in everyday life. “It can open up avenues for conversation on the things we struggle with, just knowing someone else shares in your pain makes it easier to talk it about. Nobody wants to admit that they’re struggling, they just want to put on that brave face. How can we truly be brothers and sisters in Christ if we don’t talk to each other and communicate?” Richelle shared.
The event was also an amazing opportunity for the Christian student groups to work, fellowship, and pray together. The Campus Christian Collective is meant to promote unity between the Christian groups that co-exist on campus together. Before the Beautiful Struggle Event, members from all the groups ate pasta, prayed, and fellowshipped together.
Through this, Hunter had the opportunity to talk to some international students.
“Engaging with other multi-ethnic Christian groups increased my awareness of the greatness of the Gospel and it’s expansion well beyond things I understand or am familiar with,” Hunter said. “These Christians come from different backgrounds and cultures and have life experience that I can’t relate to; yet the Gospel works in their lives just as it does in mine.”
Through this event, God was seen at work through art and poetry, in the spirit of Christian unity, and in how pain and struggle can be beautiful through the redeeming work of Jesus.