Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Prayer Sign Reflection
The first semester of re-adjusting my schedule has finished. In a previous post I mentioned that I would sit on campus with a sign telling people that I will prayer for them. Even though I mentioned a few things early on, this semester has been one story after another. Students, workers, deans, professors, Christians, Hindus, irreligious, atheists all coming to ask for prayers or because they were curious. I couldn't possibly tell you all the stories, but I could tell you all the names of the people who have showed up. I decided to count the conversations rather than the "converts," whatever that means. I never would have imagined the responses.
It was normal for someone to come up to me saying, "I've seen you here for a while, but I never came up until now." Sometimes a student would dive right in to questions about God that have been bothering them, problems they've been having, or prayers for campus they want to offer. Other times it would take five encounters or so over the course of two months before they would really ask me what they wanted to ask me.
One guy's first words to me as he was smoking a cigarette were, "Do you think people can change?" After coming around just to say hey for a month or so he was obviously bothered, or rather curious, about my approach. He said, "I've come by here five times or so and you have never once asked me about my religion, my faith, or even church...why?" I explained that I am just here to be available to students in whatever way they need. I told him that half the time I'm trying to figure out what the person talking to me actually needs. It seemed like he wasn't interested in talking about his religious, his faith, or church, so I just went with it. He told me he has never heard of a minister like that. The rest of our conversations have been oriented toward God in one way or another. He just knows that there is a guy on campus interested in being available to those who come by. I loved that conversation!!!
Having thought about what happens on campus through my sitting there every day, I have come to some tentative conclusions I would like to share. I believe that people, specifically students but also others, are looking for a way to reach out to God. They don't feel like they can come to our established facilities because they are not looking for something that involves a huge commitment. But they want to connect to God nonetheless.
When they just see the sign, I believe God makes himself known to them. Let me put that another way. If they are really looking (when they really see the sign), they see this as a place they go and can talk to God (God makes himself known to them here). Think of it this way: only after Moses goes over to see this curious sight of a bush that doesn't burn up does God call him (Exodus 3:3-4).
People have come to ask me questions that I know they are really asking God. Do you think God will hate me because of this decision I think I need to make? What will God think of me? Is it wrong to think that certain people are going to hell? Where does God want me to go after graduation? How is God working on campus?
This semester I have put myself out there and asked God to use me when he needs me. I'm available. He works in many different ways, but he needed to reveal himself to an average of about 5 people a day in various ways. I'm glad that I could be there in those moments.
The focus of this whole semester needs to remain on God's efforts toward our campus rather than on anything I was moved to do. God wants his reign to advance so people will see him in his glory. God is doing some good things that I am glad to be only a part.
I plan on doing this again next semester, but I'm not sure how long God will call me to this. I guess we will see. I'm open to questions, comments, challenges, and the like about how this sign stuff went this semester.