There is nothing as exhilarating as being in the middle of campus, walking by thousands of students between these huge buildings where they will receive their education as they pursue their degrees for the next four years of their lives.
The decisions they make today are so pivotal to their future goals, plans and direction in life. How exciting, alluring, and frightening!
I love getting to see their faces, hear their voices, read their body language. But there is nothing as life-giving to me as getting to strike up conversations with them to know what’s really going on in their lives—to learn how their past experiences and the people in their lives are influencing their position and decisions today.
My prayer is that God somehow will use me
My prayer is that God somehow will use me as an instrument to make an impact on their lives with the gospel, causing a ripple effect as I emulate Christ despite my iniquities. Although God gave me a desire to be curious about everyone’s hearts and spiritual backgrounds, I still struggle with working on my agenda to get my things done, for my time’s sake. I praise God for the days I can submit my will for the sake of his glory.
Consider Jan. 13, the first day of this semester, when Marilyn—sophomore, nursing major from San Antonio—was sitting in the university center of a 35,000 student body campus waiting for her next class to start and became a child of God!
“Wide Awake! Worship and Bible study! Every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. at the BSM! You’re invited!” Those words echoed as dozens of Baptist Student Ministry leaders spread across the busiest intersections of campus during the first few days of the semester as we promoted our biggest ministry program. I remember this particular day being ridiculously cold, so I decide to walk into warm buildings and proceeded to distribute fliers there.
I eventually walked into the university center, where thousands of students come in for lunch, to lounge or study in-between classes. Feeling slightly uneasy, I realized that I hadn’t evangelized on campus for weeks due tothe winter break. I was nervous that I might have forgotten how to approach students. I stepped aside and prayed God would lead me to exactly who he wanted me to talk to. I asked God to guide my footsteps and my words, and to open the heart of the student who I would speak to next.
That’s when Marilyn allowed me to sit next to her. I gently introduced myself and asked for permission to ask her some questions about her faith.
Through our conversation, Marilyn realized that although she was religious, she still was separated from God, because she had never given up her life for Jesus. That afternoon, Marilyn prayed to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. We have been meeting weekly since that day, and she has greatly blessed me more than she can imagine!
Marilyn flew to California recently hoping to share her testimony and the gospel with her boyfriend, Vu who is in the U.S. Marines. She and I talked about how she could share in the gentlest way possible. We prayed so much and practiced many times. Even so, Marilyn was still slightly anxious about the idea of sharing the good news with her boyfriend, fearful he would not receive the message well.
The Lord blessed her prayers, as well as the prayers of many students at the UTA BSM who have asked God to save Vu if he didn’t have a relationship with God. He realized he had relied on works instead of Christ. He was amazed by Marilyn’s testimony and professed faith in Jesus.
A ripple effect
Marilyn also shared with me how he prayed a second prayer, and it went something like this: “Thank you, God for sending Putti to Marilyn to share the gospel with her and then sending Marilyn to me to share the gospel with me.” This is one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard—a young man thanking God for a ripple effect. Our God is mighty to save!
As I reflect on God’s redemptive power to save students on campus, I hope that I never tire of stories like these—Marilyn, a 19-year-old student, puts her faith in Christ after responding to the gospel through another sinner (myself), and begins to walk faithful with Jesus. As she desires to share her faith and walk in obedience, the Lord honors her prayer, and Vu accepts Christ.
May this ripple effect never cease. May God receive all the glory. These are the prayers of our students. This is my heart’s plea.
Puthica Sok, a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, is serving as a campus ministry intern with the UTA Baptist Student Ministry through Go Now Missions.