It was during my freshman year of college when my faith truly came alive. I went on my first mission trip that first semester and I was hooked! I began applying for every mission trip that I could and I truly fell in love with serving God in missions. And I wanted everyone else to experience it too! (Just ask my husband!) I made friends across the state through our state convention’s college missions program and I would encourage them to seek God in how He could be leading them to serve.
I truly believe that has played a vital part of how I came to this place of serving in campus ministry today. Now, through my time of mobilizing students to serve, there’s always one reason that always comes up of why students don’t feel they can serve – money. And of course they don’t have money. They are in college where they have limited time to work a minimum wage job in which the majority of their expenses occupy the entirety of their paychecks.
As I spent time encouraging students to serve, I heard two different responses in regards to the money issue. 1. “I don’t have the money but I know God is calling me to do this so I’m going to talk to my church, work extra hours, start a couple of fundraisers and do whatever it takes.” I was in that boat. I wrote support letters, sold tupperware and worked long hours to pay for each endeavor along with the bills that would come due while I was gone. But then there was a second response that I would hear in regards to money and that was one simply of defeat – “I don’t have the money nor do I have a way to get it.” And I have to be honest, that response always broke my heart because I knew that God is faithful to provide our means when we step out in faith to walk in obedience.
Today as I work in campus ministry, I still hear the same thing and get the same response but I see it in a different light. Even last week as I was having coffee with a student and I shared with her the various missions opportunities available this year. I wish I could show you a picture of how her eyes lit up with every detail that was shared. She has felt God stirring in her heart to serve yet the question came up, “Do you feel like your church would support you if you talked to them?”
No. She said,”no, they’re very tight with their money and they never go or send others to do missions.” And that broke my heart even more and I began to wonder if that was the sense of defeat that I felt from those students just a few years ago. Maybe they, too, grew up in a small, country church that kept to themselves and only did VBS every year as their way of reaching out to the community. Or maybe they attended a larger church but didn’t feel they had any grounds to ask for support.
Church, there is a real problem when our young people do not feel supported. And I must say that burden does not only fall on the shoulders of church leaders but on each of us. The Lord has blessed us greatly and we should give greatly back to students in our churches and to organizations that are sending students out to spread the Gospel.
In 2010, I was preparing for a summer abroad and I had never been so sure in all of my life that God was calling me to go to Nepal for that summer. Yet, it was two weeks before I was flying out and I was $1000 short of what I needed to cover the costs of my summer. I had exhausted all of my resources and had no idea how God would show up but I knew that we do not serve a God of confusion and that He would prove himself faithful.
It was Mother’s Day 2010 and I promise, I will never forget this day as long as I live. I had just visited my mom when I received a call from my friend Laura. I had just talked with her the day before and asked her to pray with me that God would provide the remaining funds needed for my summer in Nepal.
I was walking next door to visit my grandmother when my phone rang. Laura shared with me that that morning she felt God leading her to go up in front of her church and tell them of my need. She asked them to pray for me and that if they felt led to give, they could come see her after service. I remember her saying, “Casey, I don’t even know what happened exactly but all of a sudden, I had all of these people walking up to me with checks in their hands. I just stood there crying with my hands stretched out. So I’m going to need your address because we need to send you this money – it’s $1200. Does that get you close to what you need?”
That summer after I returned from Nepal, I had the beautiful blessing of visiting that small, country church, sharing with them all God had done in Nepal because of their support. I hugged sweet old ladies and shoot hands with older men and thanked them with tears in my eyes that trickled down my face. And that my friends is the church! They did not know me, nor any of my story but they knew I had stepped out on faith and that God had given them an opportunity to impact God’s Kingdom work by sending me.
Church, how can you rally around college students and young people in your community and support them as they step out on faith in obediently responding to God’s call for this season of their life.
Maybe you were that student who stepped out in faith and God provided in miraculous ways for you to serve in missions? It’s time for you to give so that others receive that same blessing.
Or maybe you were the student who didn’t feel supported and never served. It’s time for you to rally around those young people who feel God calling them to serve and make sure that they do not miss out on these opportunities.
And maybe you don’t have any college students in your church but you want to give, PLEASE contact me and I will give you faces and names of students who are desperate to serve and who are stepping out on faith just waiting for God to use someone just like you to provide the way. I will gladly come stand in front of your congregation and share how you can support college students who are willing and ready to go.
We have been praying for workers for the harvest and that spirit is alive in today’s college students! Let’s empower them with our support and send them out with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.