This is a bit of a "report" more than a devotional thought per se, but I hope it will be encouraging to you.
We are a little over a month into the college semester, and God has been doing great things! We have connected with many students at campuses nearby, with over 120 connections through various outreach efforts. Outreach in college ministry can be discouraging, because the amount of people involved drops sharply at each level of engagement - 120 connections means about 60 students who are interested in learning more, which means about 30 students who will follow through and actually meet up to visit, out of which about 15 will get involved, and only a handful of those will really commit.
This can be discouraging if you just look at raw numbers, so let's look instead at the work that God has been doing. We currently have about 15 students in Life Group Bible studies on campus at TXWES, and we are looking at starting another Bible study group at TCC. I've been able to set up weekly meetings with 10 students, from many different backgrounds, to study the Bible at some level. And the students who are involved are excited and engaged! Here's the best part - several of these students either do not know Jesus or have just recently begun to explore a latent Christian background.
Let me share some stories of what God has been doing:
Mai is a freshman from Vietnam, and she somewhat accidentally joined CONNECT through the TXWES organizations portal and followed us on Instagram, prompting me to reach out to her. She told me she has no faith background. None whatsoever. She thought CONNECT was just a place to meet people, not realizing it was a Christian organization. But she is very nice and willing to make new friends and learn new things, so I asked her if she would be interested in studying the Bible to help her practice speaking English. She wanted to do that, so we have been studying together for several weeks, and Mai is asking some awesome questions as we read through the story of Jesus as told by Luke.
David is a student from Honduras who grew up culturally catholic, but he has intentionally distanced himself from Christianity because of a lack of confidence in the church (both catholic and evangelical). He witnessed controversy, abuse of power, mishandling of money, and mistreatment of people in various churches growing up, so when I met him, he was very cautious, but also interested. In short, he appreciates Jesus, but has reservations about the church, so I asked him if he would be interested in studying the Bible together to learn more about Jesus, and we have been meeting weekly to read the Gospel of John. I have no doubt that God will work through scripture to capture David's heart.
Jennifer grew up here in Fort Worth, and she describes herself as "spiritual, but not religious." To her credit, she told me, "If I'm going to be not religious, I at least want to know why I'm not religious." And so we began to meet weekly for a big picture Bible study, working through the big story of scripture, so that Jennifer could have good reason for not being religious. God has used this time to pique her curiosity - she asks many questions and draws meaningful conclusions from our study. And get this: on College Day at Southside, just two weeks ago, was the first time she had been to church in nearly twenty years. God is working on her!
James is from Scotland, and he only began to have a faith a couple years ago. His family do not practice any religion, and very few of his friends are interested in Jesus, but one excellent friend last year helped James see how great it is to know Him. Ever since, James has wanted to learn more. He approached me saying he had been hoping to find me since we first met last spring, and we started meeting to talk about faith and life. At one meeting, he said he wanted to know more and engage more with his faith, and he said, verbatim, "I want to be discipled." So James and I meet twice a week at least and he is growing by leaps and bounds!
Jasmeen is from India. She is quiet and shy, and she has few friends. For some reason, she connected with me to ask for more information about CONNECT, even though she is a practicing Sikh with no expressed interest in Christianity. What I learned is that she really wanted to learn to drive, so I offered her driving lessons. When I showed up for the first lesson, prepared to just scoot around in an empty parking lot, she got in the car and said, "I went into a church for the first time." Suddenly we were in a spiritual conversation! She said she just wanted to talk to God about some things, but she asked me if it was okay that she wore her shoes in the church, and she asked if she is still allowed to go to the doctor - evidently in India you don't wear your shoes into temples, and many Churches there tell their people that they should just pray, not go to the doctor, when they are sick. It was awesome to talk through some of these things and share with her about what Christianity is really like, and I am praying that God will keep pursuing her!
These are just a few stories of what God has been doing through the CONNECT College Ministry. I look forward to more opportunities and open doors like these, and I encourage you to start a spiritual conversation with someone in your world. Just say, "I've been thinking about this lately and realized I haven't asked you, what is your faith background? Do you go to church or anything?" Take it from there, and let God work!