“. . . and well, God is in my life now,” Sam said with a smile, as she hopped out of her chair and ran around the room, holding out her hands to receive high-fives from our chapter. After having made the decision to follow Jesus during our fall conference, Sam shared her testimony to celebrate with her new family. Just six weeks before, Sam, then a recent acquaintance, began showing interest in our dorm community.
Our dorm ministry includes six upperclassmen from my chapter who chose to live in Witte Hall, a freshmen dorm at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Despite the expectation on our campus that upperclassmen will move out of the freshmen dorms as soon as possible, my friends and I moved back into the dorms as a way to welcome new students into community when they arrive on campus.
Dorms provide a unique environment for ministry. It’s where students live, eat, sleep, study, make new friends, and begin discovering who they are now they have left home. It’s a fitting place for people to meet Jesus through a community of believers.
That’s how it happened for Sam. She showed up one day in my room and began asking my roommate and me questions. First she was curious about our lifestyle. “Why don’t you drink?” she asked. Along with living a somewhat alternative lifestyle, we tend to bring up Jesus in our conversations a lot, naturally leading to deeper conversations with Sam. “What do you believe?” she started asking.
We were real with her. We answered her questions about Jesus. We didn’t shy away from having prayer meetings with her in the room. We invited her to do life with us – Jesus and all.
Eventually, we invited her to come to InterVarsity events, and in November she came to our Fall Conference, where she met Jesus for herself and made the decision to follow him. Today, she continues to ask a lot of questions as we work through what her commitment that night means for her life now.
Sam’s story has made me think about our approach to dorm ministry. What would it look like if Jesus moved into Witte hall?
I love how Jesus first calls his disciples in the Gospel of John. The disciples were curious about Jesus (John the Baptist had just called him the “Lamb of God,” after all), to which Jesus responds by simply inviting them to “come and see.” The disciples go with him to hang out for the day. After spending time with him, they knew they had met the Messiah.
I’m wondering what we can learn from this model as we live in the dorms. Sometimes it may be appropriate for us to give a thorough gospel presentation or to systematically explain our faith. Those are good and necessary things to do. But sometimes, God calls us to simply invite our friends to “come and see.” At least, that’s what I imagine Jesus might do if he were to move in down the hall.
Lauren Anderson is an InterVarsity student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison studying Journalism and Mass Communication.