The nature of my work in the church and in the community means there are surprises every day. When I took my current church position in July 2007 it was to be a missions pastor. Quickly after that we realized there was a great need and a good opportunity with campus ministry next door at Augusta State University as director of the Wesley Foundation. One thing lead to another and I found myself as part time director of a group that had fallen on hard times.
That means there wasn't a program and there weren't any students!
A year later we have a faithful number of students who connect with us, with each other, and with God. And this crew is a real inspiration to me! They are diverse, they reflect different life experiences as well as a variety of religious (or not!) experiences. Every time we gather I find some of the best conversations, sometimes insightful and typically funny stuff, and usually some surprises along the way. This last week there was one conversation that reminded me of my struggles in college to take some of my own steps into young adult life. She is making choices about life and faith that are intense, profound, and transformational. I was deeply touched by her openness, and she has been the center of my prayers since that impromptu holy moment during lunch with all the student noise as background.
Early in the lunch this past Tuesday I was surprised to see one table of students get up and form a prayer circle. Our informal lunch has lots of noise and movement as some students are arriving from class and others are wolfing down their food and running to class. This particular table didn't know each other to start the semester, found one another at the weekly lunch, and now have deepening relationships so that they refer to themselves as a family! The witness and the growth of these college students is an exciting thing to see growing.
In these days leading to Thanksgiving my college student friends are one of the elements of my life and ministry that I'm very thankful for.