I met Mae this week working at a local restaurant. It didn’t take many questions to find out she was a first semester freshman at LSU. The troubling difference in her story from other students I have met in summers past is she has decided to sit out the fall semester on campus and take online classes until her family can see clearer what is happening with the Covid-19 pandemic. Students and their families are hesitant at best and stifled by fear of the unknown at worst. Never before have we needed to hear these words from the Apostle Paul more than this fall “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)
For most of my adult life I have said and heard people say a variation of the statement “The most important period of a college student’s life is the first six weeks of their freshman year” Those words have never been more true than this pandemic-impaired fall semester on college campuses around the world. Campuses are opening amidst campus Covid-19 mitigation plans and students are moving into campus housing, buying books and working out class schedules. Most campuses will not have the atmosphere of normal classroom experiences, collegiate sports, welcome activities or large social gatherings this fall. Those of us that have spent our life ministering in the university community are concerned about the impact of this new environment on new students.
Just as churches are learning to be creative, our Baptist Collegiate Ministries have been planning all summer to impact the campuses with the Gospel in new creative ways. Each college community in Louisiana is opening with student’s health and safety in mind. However, there is quite a variety of approaches being taken – ranging from one campus having all classes online to others having a full classroom experience available and adding online options. Our BCM’s have adjusted by focusing more on Gospel appointments with people far from God and Discipleship conversations with students and staff seeking to grow closer to Christ while operating under the guidelines provided by each campus.
A challenging environment on campus doesn’t mean God is not at work. Adversity often reveals how and where He is at work, particularly in the lives of students. When a person’s routine is clouded with crisis, they are more likely to think about spiritual things and are more open to the hope for eternity found in the person of Christ.
Now is the time to PRAY! As a new semester begins amidst the most challenging conditions of these students young lives, would you please pray and encourage those you lead to pray as well? Here are a few specific ways to pray:
For Students who know Christ:
- Understanding and acceptance of the call to make disciples, Matthew 28:19-20.
- Vision for what God can do in difficult times, Isaiah 41:10.
- Growth in the Lord, Hebrews 6:1.
- Protection from dangerous circumstances and anxiety. 2 Thessalonians 3:3, Philippians 4, Psalm 34:7-9.
- Missional call to reach the nations for Christ
For those students who are far from God:
- To see God at work around them and understand the Gospel, John 1:14.
- To make relationships with Gospel-centered Christians, Philippians 2:5-7.
- For protection from the negative environment that could surround them, 1 Corinthians 10:13.
- To find hope in Christ, Psalm 71:5.
- For protection from depression, distraction, unhealthy relationships, self-medication, 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5.
Students are face to face with an unpredictable season of unknown circumstances. That does not mean they can’t live a life of victory in Christ. Join me in praying for the most powerful spiritual revival in remembrance to happen on the college campus this year. Let us not focus on what we cannot control, predict or understand in the foggy distant future but rather focus on the very clear task at hand given to believers by Jesus. Make Disciples.
To view, pray for and connect with the BCM personnel in your area, click here.