Friday, August 6, 2010

Faith (part 2)

(If you have not seen yesterday's post you can view it here)

Starting college was a very difficult thing for me. It meant living on my own for the first time. It meant leaving my support group at church. It meant leaving all of my friends behind. Those were hard things to do, especially with my timid personality. I had a lot of obstacles thrown at me that first year.

Struggles that I had, became even bigger. I began trying new churches my first Sunday. Again I ran into the issue of finding a church that fit me. I rarely went half of the time because I was frustrated. It took until the end of my sophomore year to find a church I could call home.

I made friends fairly quickly at school. Some were Christians and some weren't. I did my best to try and keep from slipping. Some of the problems I had in high school were past. I had a fresh start. I didn't have to be involved with coarse joking which was a big struggle in high school. It worked for a while. I even had a friend that when I would get involved threw stuff at me. Most of the time I would get up and leave.

But I was not plugged in. I went to the Baptist Collegiate Ministry occasionally. I went to family groups on Monday nights regularly. When I could, I went to TNT. But again, actually going to church was few and far between. I wasn't really growing all that much spiritually. I felt like I had walked backwards. During a few of the breaks I would sit in with the youth group at my "home church" in Conway.

In short I absolutely hated college. I didn't want to go there. I wanted to go home. It wasn't until second semester that things began to change. Around February or March some people came to the cafeteria table where I was sitting with a group of friends. God sent them there. They proceeded to ask us a trick question, one I knew the answer to because I had done it before. They were using tracts from a ministry I was familiar with. I pulled out one of my own and gave to them. They invited me to a student led, non-sponsored, non-denominational bible study group whose sole intention was to reach out to the lost.

I decided to go. That semester I went sporadically. It wasn't always a regular thing, but it was better than nothing. The following year, my sophomore year I made some new friends. I continued to attend the bible study and more regularly. Eventually I told a friend about it who also came.

As I attended more and more relationships grew within the group. Finally during my junior year I considered them close friends. These were my brothers and sisters in Christ. I felt a love and trust in that group. The focus has gradually changed in the group. We are still all about evangelism but it has transformed into a different aspect. It is lifestyle yet intentional evangelism. We still invite non-Christians to come. We won't tell them to leave. But that is no longer the focus. The group transformed into one for Christians to come together and go out to our non-Christian friends to share the gospel. Non-Christians feel awkward attending, much like they might at church, so though the door is always open, we no longer ask people to come to learn more. We try to do that in our own relationships with them.

Some of the new things we do are things like Ultimate and Soccer. We get a crowd of people to play a game and then get contact information and build relationships with them. It then gives us an opportunity to share the gospel with them.

Along with the new focus, we became a closer group. Often we split off into guy and girls. That gave us opportunities to talk about what we were going through as men and women, apart from the other sex. Again this helped us build trust and strengthen our relations. I had a major issue just this past year that without the support of one of my Christian brothers in that group could have ended very badly.

Also in January I made a decision to become a member of Highland Drive Baptist Church. That is yet another decision I have no regrets on. Whether I really consider myself a Baptist or not, it is theologically sound. Yes, there will be things I disagree on. If there weren't there would be something wrong there. If a person agrees with everything a preacher says, they probably aren't reading the Bible and spending any time on their own with the Lord. But I have a church home. 

Some things come at the end of ever semester though. Bad things in a sense: break!

During the summer the support network is not built up. We all go our separate ways and do not have the accountability. That is something that I need to work on in my life. I need to be able to hold my own, without other Christians around. That is not to downplay the importance of having a network of Christian brothers and sisters. Fellowship will always be important.

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