Venturing Beyond the Bubble
“You guys don’t realize how much this means to me. This is a far greater blessing than anything I ever could have imagined.” This is what was said to me through tears by my friend, Chris. Who is Chris? He is a homeless man who moved up to Shawnee from New Mexico. Every Sunday, I get to hang out with people just like Chris. How did this happen? Well, it all started the first semester of my sophomore year.
Fall semester of 2014, I felt like I had started to get the hang of this whole college thing as I had completed my first year at OBU. Now that I had settled into my school routine, I wanted to start getting involved in an organization or two. I had such a hard time choosing because there are so many great organizations at OBU of various kinds! In the midst of my overwhelmed state, my friend Maddi randomly asked me if I would be interested in hanging out with people in the homeless community. She mentioned that she and sometimes a few other students would go on Sundays to hang out with the homeless, while churches from the area brought food. I figured I’d try it out, so she and I went to a park near downtown Shawnee that Sunday, which is where everyone met. I was taken aback at how many homeless were in our little town. So many lived with so little and had so many needs that were not being met. I talked with a few people, all of whom were extremely grateful for the company and food. I walked away from that day with a new set of eyes. I now saw what God wanted me to be involved in, and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Over the last year, this student-led ministry known as “On the Ground” has grown so much. It’s crazy to think how a year ago, it was only a few students going to the park on Sundays. Now, we’re in a building, five different churches help bring meals, and almost forty OBU students have gotten involved; forty students who help feed and clothe the needy, pray for them, cry with them, laugh with them, and love them the way Christ loves. Why is this? Well, it may be because they had the same realization I did. I had gotten so comfortable in my little “bubble” at school. I caused myself to become blind to the needs that surrounded me just across the street. That one visit to the park caused me to realize that college is such a great opportunity to serve and love on people in a way you never have before. OBU creates such a great atmosphere for this too. There are multiple local ministries to get involved in. In addition to that, there are GO trips that OBU puts together to get students out of their comfort zones to share the gospel across the globe! I found college to be a perfect environment to get outside of this “bubble” so many of us create for ourselves. Let me give one more example.
The last two weekends, I’ve been able to go work at two different D-nows. A D-now (or Disciple Now) is an event churches put on for their youth, where they spend a whole weekend focusing on growing closer to Christ. Through some friends at OBU, I was invited to work as a small group leader for two of these. Let me tell you, they were a blast. Good food, deep discussions, and new friendships were just a few of the amazing aspects. But most of all, these weekends helped guide me in the calling God has for my life. My major is Student Ministry, so I soaked in everything from these weekends. I learned so much from them and am even more pumped to get into ministry full time now!
I could write about these things forever, but neither my fingers nor my brain have the stamina for that at the moment. However, I just want to point out again how easy it is for many college students, such as myself, to get so caught up in the college experience that we forget the needs of those around us. Thankfully, because of my experiences at OBU, I’ve been able to get involved in ministry opportunities that have been life-changing both for me, and the people I’ve been blessed to work with. I’m so thankful to be surrounded by students and faculty who recognize the importance of both on-campus and off-campus ministry. I cannot wait to see what this next year has in store for bison students. We’re a herd that breaks the bubble, and the world is a different place because of the vision that is cultivated on Bison Hill!