For all you college students and recent grads out there, this post is especially for you…
Last night I had the privilege of catching up with some old college students from my days as a campus minister. These girls are on fire for the Lord and I sat with my jaw hanging open as they told me about a woman they’ve been reaching out to.
By God’s good timing, these students happened upon a woman who was in dire straights. She has two small children who were fathered by a boyfriend now in prison, and she recently suffered a stroke. As a result of the stroke, she has no use of one arm so she can’t hold down a job, let alone provide the care she wants her kids to have. She’s on disability, but the little amount of money she receives each month is hardly enough to live on.
Through a series of crazy circumstances, the students decided to “adopt” this woman and her kids. They babysit for her, clean her apartment, and they raised money to purchase clothes, diapers, a crib, and a mattress. Because she couldn’t afford diapers and barely has the dexterity to change one anyway, the apartment was filled with old soiled clothes. In response to this situation, the students gathered up all the dirty laundry, took it to a 24 hour laundry mat, and did 13 loads from 10pm until 5:30 in the morning.
All in all, the students have given sacrificially of both their money and their time.
As I listened to these two girls beam about the relationship they’ve forged with their newfound friend, I was first struck by their radical generosity. This truly is a picture of God’s design for the church! This is the kind of work we should be doing. The government can’t wash people’s clothes or provide little boys with a solid father figure, but the people of God sure can. These students are not only providing life-changing support, but they are shining like stars in the darkness. They are doing the work of Jesus.
But what also stood out to me about this story is that it was the kind of thing only college students or young singles could do. Adults who are married or have a family don’t have the same freedom to stay up from 10pm to 5:30am doing laundry. Parents can’t drop everything and go help out with a struggling mother’s kids. They just don’t have the same flexibility.
As one of the girls finished telling the story, she ended by saying, “I can’t wait to tell my kids this story!” What a shift in perspective! How many college students do crazy things and make amazing memories going on a spontaneous road trip, driving to Krispy Kreme in the middle of the night, or playing hide-and-go-seek in Walmart? Those are the kinds of hair-brained schemes that we can’t wait to tell our kids about. Those are the life experiences that define our college experience.
But what’s sad about these stories is that as funny and crazy as they are, they’re ultimately a waste of an incredible gift. College students have the most freedom they’ll have in their entire lives, and they use it to toilet paper the quad, put soap in the fountain, or put thousands of pink flamingos in the middle of the school? Yes, those are fun stories, but do you really want that to be your legacy? Is THAT what you want to define your Christian journey in college?
Listening to those two young women gave me a different vision of college insanity. What if college students used their unique freedom, flexible schedule and unbelievable energy to bless the world? Does your church benefit from the gifts that God has given you during this season of life? What about your community? While churches assume that college students can’t give much in the way of finances, they possess something equally valuable: time. So use it well and ask yourself, “What kind of stories will I be telling my kids?” Will you be telling them about the time you ate a live fish on a bet, or the time you pulled an all-nighter doing laundry for a family who needed the love of Christ?
One version makes for a good story, while the other could have ripple effects for generations to come.