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Five myths I fell for in my first year of university

Jul 20, 2015 | Terra Hensel

Anyone can fall for myths about what university will be like. I know I did. So what are the myths I fell for? I’ll give you the advantage of knowing them before you even set foot on campus.

Myth #1:  I am the only one struggling to find my place on campus

I entered my first weeks of university knowing only a few Christian friends on campus. Most of my time on campus I was separated from them, causing me to feel lonely and lost in the crowd. I was intimidated by the work load, and although I knew I didn’t belong in the party scene, I kind of wanted the acceptance it offered. I couldn’t identify any Christians in my classes or labs. I desperately wanted a friend that could help me find my place on campus.

I even remember spending a lot of time with an attractive girl in my program who was not a Christian. I entertained the possibility of starting a relationship with her. After all, she was closest to me and showed me the most acceptance. Yet I knew she wouldn’t be able to understand nor encourage me in my faith, but it seemed like a way to find my place romantically on campus.

In the first week, my Biology professor held up Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ and proclaimed it to be the truth and the most influential book ever written. It was one of the first times I had such a direct challenge spoken to my faith. I was struggling to find my place in the classroom.

I was struggling to find my place socially, romantically and spiritually. What would I give up to fit in? Who would I identify with to find my place on campus?

A major turning point in my faith was when students involved with Power to Change came into two of my classes with surveys.  I was caught off guard by their boldness. Although I was too intimidated to fill out the first survey in my psychology class, I filled out a second one in chemistry. When I met with these people, I felt accepted by them. I valued that they took their faith in Jesus seriously. It was really refreshing to find like-minded students wrestling with how to live their faith on a secular campus. I found my place on campus.

Myth #2:  If I could get through university and still hold onto my faith, I had succeeded as a Christian

Like many students, I considered university a means to an end: a degree that would lead me to a job. My goal was pragmatic, do what I need to do for my degree and get out. To keep my faith in tact I would just plan to stay clear of any person or worldview that was a threat to my faith. I discovered quickly that my beliefs were being challenged at every level. Sometimes it was values of success or pleasure that made me uneasy, sometimes it was all out verbal attack on my faith in God.

Not only did I have my faith challenged, but I realized that I didn’t really own my faith. I wasn’t confident of God’s love or forgiveness. I felt guilty about sin. I wasn’t living by faith. I lacked hope and vision. I didn’t know how to defend my faith. I never had to before.

God challenged this myth within my first weeks of involvement with Power to Change.  I discovered how fragile my faith was. I was called to build it, not let it coast or die. I needed forgiveness, challenge and encouragement to make a difference in other people’s lives. I considered for the first time that the university is a mission field.  God changed my perspecitive about my time at university. Success was helping others grow in their faith and experience of Jesus while growing in mine.

Myth #3: Everyone on campus knows the basics of Christianity and its value

It came as a shock when I met professors and students who had radically different ideas of what Christianity was all about.  Some were content to be passive and only culturally Christian. Some were verbally opposed and offended by Christianity. Other students had no understanding of Christianity at all. Most seemed to believe in themselves.

Both students and professors challenged my faith by raising their doubts and reasons for not believing in Christianity.  I was completely unprepared for this. To survive, I needed help responding to the challenging claims against my faith. Through the example and training of others, I learned I could weather the doubts against belief in God. I got to know more about Christianity and understand its value even more.

Myth #4:  Nobody is interested in talking about spirituality

I fell so hard for this myth that I resisted talking to my new friends about my faith. I was sure they wouldn’t want to hang out with me if I did. Without anyone saying it I knew talking about my faith was taboo. But it also seriously stunted my friendships.

One dreadful day, a staff with Power to Change invited me to go sharing the gospel on campus. Fear and dread came over me. I wanted to say no and avoid embarrassment and rejection. But I was too scared to say no and didn’t want to let him down. With a couple of prayers, a deep breath and his initiative we approached a student. I expected instant rejection, perhaps a mouthful of explicatives telling us to get lost.

I was surprised again and again by how many people were willing to engage in discussion about spirituality. Some of my friends jumped at the opportunity to discuss spiritual topics. It was only believing this myth that prevented me from having good spiritual conversations.  It was amazing to discover how opening up about something deeply personal helped us to reach a level of friendship that we never could have achieved otherwise. People were more open to talk than I was willing to take initiative.

Myth #5: I thought the only way to evangelize was to convince people that I was right

I think most Christians are intimidated by evangelism. Part of my fear was due to the belief that I was responsible to convince someone. God showed me how simple conversations about spiritual topics could provoke genuine curiosity.  I discovered that you could actually build friendships as you shared your faith. God showed me that love and respect could be achieved through spiritual conversations, even with people I disagreed with. After sharing the gospel with many people, I started to see that I really have no control over how they respond. That is not my job. I simply share the truth and trust God’s Spirit to convince them.

These are 5 myths that you don’t need to fall for

University is a unique time in a your life.  Take every opportunity to find your place inside God’s community on campus. University can actually be a tool God uses to strengthen your faith. As you are equipped and wrestle through doubts, God can grow your faith in him. Don’t just get through university with your faith in tact, seek to engage your friends in the gospel. Don’t miss out on this faith adventure. Keep pressing through these myths and the fear they evoke. Find God’s place for you on campus.

About the Author

Terra Hensel

Terra Hensel has served on staff with Power to Change – Students for over 12 years. Terra is a vibrant and beloved-by-Jesus coffee-snob, project manager, problem-solver and creative. She loves her husband, friends, jazz, books, sewing, singing, and dancing.

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