Ahh… Fall is here! I am getting to experience true changing of the seasons for the first time, and it’s quite delightful. Last week, the 3 of us missionaries headed up to Columbus, OH for our periodic staff training day – the drive was gorgeous! I love how God gives us the beauty of His creation to enjoy in so many different ways.
When I left you last, I was preparing for the Opening of the Lord’s Day Celebration. Because Christianity inherited many traditions from Jewish practices, it is great to deepen our understanding of the culture our faith comes from. In the Jewish tradition, the Lord’s Day begins at sundown on Friday and ends 24 hours later the following evening. Since our Sabbath is on Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, we begin our celebration on Saturday evening. This celebration is not intended to be a substitute attending Church, rather it is an additional way to help us “set aside” the Lord’s Day in a world that does not honor the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before we eat, there is a time to give thanks to God. As we pass around the bread, each person gets to share something from the past week they are grateful for. This was my first time making the Challah bread and I’m so pleased the way it turned out!
Last week was jam-packed. Every Wednesday, the Newman Center has a Catholics on Campus event. On October 3, SPO got to host the evening. It was an awesome opportunity for us. We invited several people involved with the SPO chapter in Ohio to come down and help us out. So, the event is supposed to start at 7:30pm… we get a call from them around 6:30 that there has been a huge accident on the highway, they’re completely stuck in traffic, and they hope to get to Morgantown around 8:30. AHH! Among the people coming is a great musician who was going to lead worship, and our Mission Director who was going to give the talk for the evening. We were stressing out a little. After a short huddle to pray and come up with plan B, I scooted home to grab my guitar so I’d be prepared to lead worship. Matt and Jillian split to do whatever they were going to do. Students started showing up for the dinner at 7. While we were eating with them, we get a call at 7:20 that the Ohio crew is about 20 minutes out! Praise the Lord! So, we just stretched dinner a wee bit longer and plan A was back on track. WHEW. It ended up being a really fantastic evening. There were some students that came up afterwards saying the message of the talk was precisely what they had been needing to hear. Amen to that. God is so good!
On Friday, God presented me with something very new. It was around lunch time and Jillian, myself, and a student were going to eat in the Mountainlair Cafeteria. As we were heading up, there was a crowd off to the side gathered around a man. We thought a professor had just decided to teach class outside, as it was a beautiful day. Well, he was still there when I was on my way out, and having a bit of spare time, I decided to see what was going on. Turns out, the man was preaching. So I sat down for a bit. After a few minutes of listening, I definitely didn’t agree with his approach or manner. There were times that he spoke things that were true, but he was really condescending in his tone. To the students who were asking him honest questions, he never gave a straight answer – he would tell a parable or a story and if they asked for clarification, he would scoff as if they were stupid for not understanding. It was disheartening, and there was just a general negativity in everything. I began to talk with the people around me, asking if they were Christian and what they thought of the man, Tom. There was a variety of responses, of course. Some were atheist, others were agnostic, a few were Christian. Several students said they were there just to make fun of Tom, and that they would respect him a lot more if he wasn’t being so disrespectful. It reminded me of something Matthew Kelly said; “words have value according to who speaks them.” Even if we are presenting the truth, others will never actually hear it if it is not done with love. We cannot present the goodness of the Lord out of selfish ambition, trying to draw attention to ourselves. I ended up going out to dinner with some of the people I met that afternoon – an atheist and an agnostic, who both had grown up with some aspect of Christianity. We talked about our lives, our beliefs, and our different experiences that have shaped and influenced us. It made me realize even more deeply that people desire to be known; to have someone genuinely listen, to feel that someone actually cares. How tragic that we have become so individualized and self-centered in our culture that even in the midst of a large crowd, most people still feel completely alone. Please pray for them. Hopefully, I will be able to meet up with them again soon and continue to share the love of Christ with them, to let them know just how valued and important they truly are.
There is rarely a dull moment in my week. Saturday morning, bright and early – the Farmer’s Market! A student needed to take some photos of an event for her journalism class and asked if I would go with her. I loved it! Definitely going back when I can. Monday brought the beginning of a new project that’s been in the works: to set up a table in the ‘free speech zone’ where students can come ask questions they may have about Catholicism. After experiencing Tom the preacher on Friday, I was definitely ready to get this started. Although it was cold and dreary, several students stopped by who had been looking for a Catholic group on campus to become involved with. I am excited to see what will happen with it as time goes by. Last night, a bunch of students came down to the Newman Center to help bake cupcakes and decorate them with pro-life messages. Since tonight’s Catholics on Campus event is a pro-life discussion, we are going to take them up to the table today, give them away, invite students to come tonight, and hopefully have some conversations with passing students. Incidentally, October 9 is National Pro-Life Cupcake Day…I had no idea! I literally just found out while I was writing this, the campus minister texted me with a news article he had clicked on: Cupcakes for Life. I’ll let you know how it goes!
May God bless you this week and supply for all your needs! You are in my prayers!
“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” – Psalm 40:8