One thing that I like to do at the end of each school year is to spend some time reflecting on the year of ministry with the college students. They share the ways that the church and ministry have been a blessing to them and the ways that others in the faith community have been friends and supporters. Here are some of the things about Southside that most impacted those in the College Ministry:
Some students, like Brooke Eigenheer and Dylan Benson were highly impacted by their “Adopt-a- Student” connections, and they were made to feel like part of the families into which they were “adopted.” These students were often invited into the homes of their adoptive families to share meals, enjoy family game night, or even just have a quiet place to study.
Others, like Ty Herrera and Vic Norris were most impacted by their time on trips or at events outside of the usual routine. Spending time with brothers and sisters in Christ away from the day-to-day grind can be a remarkably transformative, opening students to new perspectives, friendships, and deeper learning opportunities.
And other students felt that a great blessing of Southside and the College Ministry has been always feeling like they are welcome, no matter what. Students confessed to having been inconsistent and overly-busy, but then noticed that, each time they showed up again, no matter how long they had been away, they were welcomed with open arms.
I share these with you not just to bring up the College Ministry, but to provide some ideas about what kinds of things draw people to our community. When you recognize that connections and relationships - especially those that happen outside of our usual meeting times - provide a sense of blessing and belonging, you can work to offer more of this to those you come in contact with.
I’m glad we are a place where people feel welcome, but I also know that, for everyone who communicates this feeling, there are likely several others feeling alone and ignored. I encourage you to be intentional in connecting with and uplifting others. I pray that more people will be blessed by feeling welcomed with open arms!