High expectations

University was supposed to be the answer to all my problems. I would finally gain some independence from my parents, study something I actually wanted to learn about, and make lifelong friends. Being a sociable person, I especially wanted to make new friends—the talk-everyday-share-everything-will-you-be-my-bridesmaid kind of friends. With these ideas in mind, I walked in to my first day of my first year full of hopes, aspirations, and high expectations. Unfortunately, my vision for my first year didn’t unfold as I imagined it would.

It started out nice, but then…

At first, it seemed that everything was going according to plan. I was becoming more independent and self-reliant, I was learning all about how to be a nurse and save lives, and, most importantly, I had friends! Not only had I formed strong relationships with those around me, but I was also strongly relating to almost everyone I came across. I met people who had the same hobbies, listened to the same music, and had the same type of humor as me. I thought I had finally found what I was looking forward to throughout high school: community. However, the elation lasted just a few weeks, and I found myself feeling drained and lonely. I would go home after a full day of spending good time with my friends and still feel alone. My relationships were missing something, but I couldn’t quite figure out what.

My struggles with community reminded me of my experience with the Young Adults ministry at the church I used to attend. I had seen people my age talking, laughing, and sharing their burdens with each other in a way that I had never been able to with my friend group at high school. I realized that what I was looking for was not just more friendships, but something deeper. I was looking for a community of Christians; people who, like me, rooted their identity in the person of Christ.

Praying for what I was missing

I began to pray constantly for God to send me Christian friends. I even tried reading my Bible in public on campus, hoping I would be approached by other Christians. I kept an eye out for posters advertising Bible studies or prayer meetings. I did everything I could, but I still couldn’t find the community I longed for.

In that first year of university, God was also placing more people in my life from various religions and backgrounds than ever before. Although this provided me with great opportunities to share my faith with my friends, it also served as a constant reminder of my solitude. Not having Christian fellowship made me feel like I had to journey and struggle through my own faith and spiritual growth alone.

Yet, God reminded me often of who I am in him and who he is to me. My personal intimacy with him deepened. He regularly showed me, through reading the bible, that he is always with me, and that he does everything according to his own timing (Psalm 142:3, Micah 7:7). I felt encouragement in my faith when I listened to worship songs. I specifically recall feeling hope and reassurance in the second verse of the hymn “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”, which says, “Though none go with me, I still will follow”. I was reminded of the truth that no matter how alone I feel, I have the assurance of God’s presence with me in both the hard times and the happy times. I trusted that the God who does not forget the needy would provide (Psalm 9:18), and I knew that it would happen in his perfect timing.

Connecting with Community

I first heard about Power to Change Students online. I was scrolling through my social media platforms and saw one of my friends post about a weekly Power to Change meeting. I had heard about Power to Change before, in passing, but there wasn’t a group on my campus, so I was never able to connect. I decided to message my friend and ask her about it, and I found out that their weekly meeting happened at a campus that was only a five minute walk away from my own. I checked it out the following week, and I’ve been going ever since.

The first thing I noticed when I visited was the diversity. This was not a group of uniform, similar-looking people with the same personality. I found people of all cultures, introverted and extroverted, quiet and loud. The only visible commonality among them was their passion and love for Jesus and his mission. I felt welcomed immediately, and was introduced to people who I now consider to be some of my closest friends. Even on initial contact, I could tell that this was more than a weekly gathering of strangers; it was a community.

Another thing that caught my attention was the genuine heart within the group. We sat in small groups to read the bible and answer discussion questions. I still remember the topic—adoption into God’s family—and the people who sat beside me. They opened up about their struggles, shared their prayer requests and praise reports, and talked about what God was teaching them. I was overwhelmed with joy to hear that God had been moving so strongly on campus and in the lives of other students around me. I thought I was alone in my walk with God, but that night he showed me his presence in an unmistakable way.

With every meeting I attend, I am more and more thankful to God for placing the Power to Change community in my life. I have been involved in bible studies (discipleship groups) and weekly meetings ever since that first week two years ago, and I can see the difference in my life and the spiritual fruit produced in me, like love for others and patience in frustrating circumstances. I have learned to be intentional with my friends and family. I am prioritizing my walk with God. I now understand the importance of relational evangelism: sharing my faith with the friends God has already placed in my life. I know that not only am I living for Christ, but I am experiencing life with him. I have tasted and seen the Lord’s goodness in immeasurable ways, and my campus Christian community has played a tremendous role in that journey.

If you are feeling alone in college or university, reach out to Christian community. My prayer for you is that you would find your hope in the Lord, and trust him to meet your every need. I pray that you would be surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) that journey with you and encourage you as you grow closer in knowing and loving Jesus, and sharing his truth with those around you.

You can find Power to Change Students on a campus near you. Read more about NEXT, Power to Change’s initiative to help Grade 12s connect to a faith based community in college or university.

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