Reading the Bible is unlike reading any other book in the world. As the Word of God, the stories of the Bible are more than just intriguing or entertaining—they have the power to change our lives and bring us into closer relationship with God. Through the Bible study they lead together, Weber State University students Jordan Barbadillo and Michelle Frias have grown to love reading God’s Word in community and acting on what they hear.
The Power of the Word
For both Jordan and Michelle, their time in Weber’s InterVarsity chapter has transformed their view of Scripture. “I’ve fallen in love with the Word and constantly have to rely on its truth,” said Michelle. “Before college I had no idea that God wants to and can speak to us, but now I know how to hear him in Scripture.” Jordan has also found new significance in the Word of God that he hadn’t seen before: “After just the first year in InterVarsity, I got a glimpse of the depth of God’s Word.”
Jordan and Michelle decided to use their love of Scripture in leadership. Throughout this past year, they have co-led a small group Bible study in their dorm. The group, which averages about twenty people, meets each week to study the Bible and encourage each other. Together, they are discovering the power of the Word of God.
Serving the Dorms
But Jordan and Michelle knew that simply studying the Bible would be inadequate. They also needed to help their Bible study respond to the things they learned in Scripture. In order to do that, they came up with a creative form of service: trash disposal.
“We wanted our small group to be doers of the Word, so we decided we would serve the dorms by taking out students’ trash,” said Michelle. “Before and after each Bible study, we go through our dorm collecting trash.” As they go, they share who they are, what InterVarsity is, and why they are doing this.
Taking out the trash isn’t glamorous. But Michelle and Jordan feel that it’s the best way their group can show the servant heart of Jesus to the rest of the dorm community. And interacting with people as they take out their trash lays the groundwork for future interactions: “Every time someone opens up their door, we have an opportunity to build a relationship,” said Jordan.
Taking out the trash of their fellow students has also helped the Bible study grasp what it means to apply what they learn from Scripture to their daily lives. “If we have a nice little Christian huddle, nod our heads when something deep is read or said, and then just go home, what kind of impact is it truly going to make in us or anyone else?” said Jordan. “Taking out trash reminds us that the Word is for everyone, not just ourselves.”
Stepping Out In Faith
Six members have taken to heart this lesson that God’s Word is for everyone and have become part of a group of leaders sent out to start additional Bible studies in Jordan and Michelle’s dorm. “They have taken a step of faith and are excited about what God has in store for them,” said Michelle. Some of the new Bible studies are reaching out to people that might be otherwise overlooked—one meets on Saturdays for those who aren’t free during the week, while another is specifically for medical students.
Training and sending out new leaders has become an important part of Michelle and Jordan’s small group. “I see God stirring in the hearts of those leading new studies, and new leaders becoming passionate about reaching the campus,” said Jordan. He holds debriefing sessions—times when he and the new leaders can talk about what went well, what could be better, and what they might do differently next time. They also spend an hour praying and preparing before each group meeting.
The Joy of Leadership
The development of new leaders is especially encouraging to Michelle, who will graduate this year: “I find great joy in seeing people grow, and watching younger leaders who I disciple go out and start their own Bible studies has given me great hope for where our chapter is headed.”
Of course, leading is not without its challenges. “It causes me to re-examine how I live my life,” said Jordan. “I often ask myself if I’m willing to do the things I call my Bible study to do.” It can also be tiring, as Michelle and Jordan balance homework and Bible study, and can make them hyper-aware of their own shortcomings and failures. But ultimately it’s not about how strong they can be—it’s about God’s strength working through them. “Watching God move and accomplish great things in people despite my brokenness and mistakes as a leader has taught me about God’s sovereignty and power,” said Michelle.
Although training and discipling leaders and seeing their small group grow from ten to thirty members has been exciting for Michelle and Jordan, their ultimate goal is to help those they lead understand how God can speak to them through Scripture. “I see the Word not just as a book to be read, but as something that has the power to transform a person every time they read it,” said Michelle. “The Word is Jesus, and he is living and active.”