Campus Life: small windows, deep engagement

By Luke Midena, Canberra Labouring Community

Something I love about campus ministries is the intensity and depth of engagement we have with people for a short window of time. As hard as it is when students move on, there is an endless influx of opportunity.

I recently farewelled Isaak, who moved back to the US with a firm relationship with God.

But wind back two years; Isaak was a 17-year-old wrestling with a deep sense of melancholy which seemed at odds with the joy he expected to feel in the Spirit. He wasn’t sure he could continue to trust God.

In the following months we reflected on the life and writings of Charles Spurgeon, who struggled with a similar emotional pain. We found the source of strength to continue to trust God in all suffering – including mental and emotional.

         Ordinary mourners… sip at sorrow’s bowl, but [Christ] drains it dry.
~ Charles Spurgeon

Rather than wrestling with the reason for suffering, we found ourselves enjoying the peace that comes from the ‘man of sorrows’ who suffered with us and for us.

With the gospel in place, I went on to help Isaak develop habits which nurture an immersive relationship with God, such as prayer and reflection on Scripture.

As much as I would love more time with Isaak, I thank God that I could play a short but significant part in his life.

As the cycle goes, a few weeks after Isaak left, I met a student on campus from Myanmar. When he found out I was a Christian, his eyes lit up as he explained that he was from a Buddhist family but had been engrossed by the writings of CS Lewis and William Lane Craig.

This student explained that his main reason for coming to study in Australia was actually to learn about Christianity. He went on to share that he had read Genesis but was finding Exodus quite challenging. Reminiscent of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, he lamented that he lacked someone to help him understand. (Yes, these people still exist!)

In recent weeks, it’s been such a joy to help him understand what he’s reading and witness him encountering God. I still haven’t stopped smiling or pinching myself.

And so begins another friendship. Even though our time in person may be short, hopefully it’s eternally significant.

  • Thank God for the joy of helping Isaak and the student from Myanmar know God.
  • As Isaak settles into life in Alaska, ask God to provide him with ongoing spiritual support and for opportunities to pass on the spiritual riches he has received.
  • Pray that the Myanmar student’s love for thinking about God would arrive at a life-shaping appreciation for Christ.
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