By Hannah Keziah Agustin

The God of the Unexpected: Lucas' Story

“Don’t put God in a box,” Lucas says when asked if there’s anything he could tell his freshman self. It’s a Friday afternoon in May, and Lucas sits across the table from me next to a suitcase of clothes he’s bringing to chapter camp in his apartment a few blocks from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He’s a senior studying both Industrial Engineering and Chinese, and for the past three years, he’s served as a leader in his Asian American InterVarsity (AAIV) chapter. Next door, his roommates pack their things to head back home for the summer, a kind of bittersweet reprieve from the stress of homework and the warm comfort of community. “I don’t want to take this for granted because it’s not always like this,” he says with palpable joy on his face. “I want to listen to what God has to say through my community.”

Lucas’s parents planted a multiethnic church in Minnesota, so he was no stranger to faith. They hosted people at their house for Bible studies and worship nights and Lucas was burned out from it. He knew he was “supposed to” be involved in a church when he went to college, but he wanted a break from “Christian things.” That was until he was invited by, surprisingly, his non-Christian friend to an InterVarsity event. After being bribed with free food and the possibility of making new Asian friends, Lucas went.

“There was something different about them,” he said. “They’re not just super nice people. There’s something pushing them to do this.” That something stirred a curiosity in him to keep going to events. While this happened, Jesus gradually chipped away at his heart, changing it to be a supple vessel of worship. This was only the beginning.

Because every school year presented unique challenges, Lucas learned to lean on the Lord for wisdom, especially when he stepped into leadership in 2020. It was a year of rebuilding the chapter, and there were a lot of transitions to navigate and lessons to learn. 

Now in 2023, he says, “This is a year of harvest. We have a big influx of new people, including a lot of questioning and open non-Christians who come to our events.” He’s grateful for past leadership who planted seeds of faith even when they didn’t see its fruition. Their faithfulness brought forth much fruit in the chapter, and by investing in his small group, Lucas hopes to do the same.

Not only is Bible study the place where Lucas learns what it means to fear, respect, follow, and pursue God, but it’s also where he tangibly sees God’s love. “We feel like a family. We do life together not just in small group or large group, but outside of that as well,” he says. Once, he secretly schemed with his small group to bake a matcha cake for his co-leader Nat, who was celebrating her birthday.

“Everything was going some kind of wrong,” he said, remembering the chaos of burning the strawberries they’d put on top of the cake. “When she arrived, we were like, ‘Here's our cake that's kind of ruined, but we’re sure you'll love it anyways!’” And Nat, who Lucas described as a very joyful human being, loved it. They filled the living room with laughter that night. No one wanted to leave.

Lucas is now on the executive team that oversees the chapter, casts vision for it, and looks at the big picture of where it’s headed. With a faith that goes beyond what he inherited from his family, he now helps shepherd other students to lead Bible studies, large group gatherings, and praise nights. He compares the experience to the story of Moses journeying toward the Promised Land.

“You have to trust the promise that God gave you when leading,” Lucas says. This grew in him the importance of humility in worship, listening to God in reliance and in discernment, and being grateful in all circumstances.

No one would have thought that Lucas, the freshman drained by the church, would become Lucas the senior who would lead his chapter in studying Scripture, having a heart posture of worship, and creating a community that reflects the love that Jesus has for each of us. But God did. 

God called Lucas to live out Christ’s redemptive purposes in the lives of many fellow students, as he himself was being redeemed. “The path I took was exactly purposed by God for this very reason,” Lucas says.