Our prayer and encouragement team at the Stephen F. Austin State University Baptist Student Ministry led an event on our campus just like the national Engage24 emphasis—a one-day effort to engage students in sharing their faith.
We had a prayer tent, coffee, sandwiches and Soularium cards—a pack of photos with questions designed to spark spiritually significant conversations.
Going out at 6 p.m., my mind was focused on getting the tents set up, the cards taped together, the coffee machine set up and all of the things that I felt needed to be done efficiently and quickly. I was so focused on this aspect of things, I didn’t stay very late to talk with students or to pray.
I came back the next morning, excited to speak with students. In my first 10 minutes at the prayer tent, I began a conversation with a girl using the Soularium cards. She told me that she was a sculptor, she loved working with kids, and she worked to help pay for school. I also found out that she wasn’t “really into the church thing” but thought that the prayer tent was pretty cool.
She was almost late to her next class. When our conversation began to draw to a close, I realized this person I had gotten along with pretty well was about to just walk away, and I would never know if she would hear the voice of the Lord speaking truth to her. I asked her to come back to the tent, but her hurried steps and quick, “Yeah, maybe,” told me that she wouldn’t be back.
I thought back on our conversation and realized she shared so much of herself with me, and I shared practically nothing of substance of myself with her. I chose to ask mindless questions about the things she told me in an effort to keep the conversation going, instead of letting the silence come and listening for the Holy Spirit to speak.
The Lord reminded me of something I wish I could have learned under different circumstances: He reminded me: (1) Time is his. He is in control and not limited by class schedules. (2) As believers, we need to be aware of every word we speak and every action we make, because the first impression we make on a person could be the last one. (3) The Lord can use me, if I will simply be still and abide in him.
In my feeble attempts to manipulate the situation by asking her to come back to the tent and keep the conversation going, I forgot the simple truth that the Lord is gracious enough to let us in on his great plan. He desires to do marvelous things through us, with us and despite us.
Kirstie Kibbe, a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, is serving with Go Now Missions as a campus missionary intern at her alma mater’s Baptist Student Ministry.