After covering the campus sidewalks at Texas Woman’s University with question marks and some information, we hoped for a good turnout on Friday at the Baptist Student Ministry for Alpha.
The Alpha course offers a beginning point to ask questions and explore the Christian faith. It also allows followers to ask hard questions, solidify their faith and grow in community.
Every Friday, we meet at 11 a.m. to do prayer-walking around the campus and participate in personal evangelism. This particular Friday, only one student showed up, the Olympics were on TV, and so many other things were happening. My director and I got caught up with getting things done, so we didn’t pray together, and we didn’t evangelize.
While my director was in a meeting, I knew I needed to pray. I turned off the TV, hoping someone in the lounge area would join me, but no one really seemed interested, so I went into the prayer room.
I became really discouraged and knew that I needed to trust God, no matter the outcome. As the time got closer to 3 p.m. when Alpha was scheduled to start and as a few of the leaders trickled in, I became even more discouraged, and I couldn’t hide it. So, the director, a few student leaders and I prayed.
Answer to prayer
A few minutes later, when my director left to get food and pick up her children, I received a phone call from someone with Alpha. He wanted to check up on us to see if we had any questions, wanted training or needed any help. What an answer to prayer! He encouraged me, gave me some ideas and then prayed with me. It was just what I needed.
It got me fired up and gave me hope.
I got a few texts saying people couldn’t come, but by 3:30 I knew we needed to start—just three student leaders and me. We four started to listen to a recording of Charlie Mackesy talk about whether there was more to life than this.
At that point, in walked a familiar student—one of the residents from the dorm where I had served as a resident assistant. Two more students followed. Finally, another familiar student walked in, and I was surprised to see her.
She is a blind student to whom I’ve been trying to minister for the last three years. She just decided to walk in and see what was going on. No one had told her about Alpha. She can’t see the promotional flyers and chalk on sidewalks around campus. But something lead her to the BSM that Friday afternoon.
She had grown up in a Christian home, but got caught up in New Age religion. Now she sees herself as really spiritual and looks at God as mostly love, but she doesn’t really believe Jesus is the only way. She will talk about God and the Holy Spirit, but Jesus really isn’t in most of her conversations.
I started the Charlie Mackesy recording back from the beginning, and we all listened. As we giggled at the jokes and how Charlie tried to talk in a Texan accent, God was at work.
Questions for God
When it was over, I asked a few questions.
“If God were in the room, what question would you ask him?”
Here are a few of the students’ responses:
• “What is my purpose?”
• “What about good people of other religions? Where will they go when they die?”
• “Why are children sexually abused?”
• “Why do people die of hunger?”
• “Why do bad things happened to good people?”
• “Why does God allow serial killers? Can they be saved?”
Through tears and laughter we spilled our hearts with hard questions like these and even some like, “Where is my husband?”
God started a work
Their vulnerability blessed me so much. In our brief time together, community was built, relationships were made, walls came down, and God started a work.
I hope that through teaching, questions, and sharing, God will reveal to the students the answers they are looking for. If not, maybe God will give them peace knowing that it is OK that we don’t have all the answers, and they can still trust knowing God is good.
Sharel Kaye Gaskey is serving this semester as a campus missionary intern at Texas Woman’s University in Denton through Go Now Missions.