This past semester, we saw thirteen students make a first-time or adult decision to follow Jesus! For a small campus of 1,800 students, this many conversions is an amazing work of God. Here is how it happened:
I grew up on the mission field; my family worked with Operation Mobilization for five years, and that made a huge impact on me. We lived among people who had given up all they owned to serve Jesus. One of my earliest memories is of a yard sale where we gave away most of our possessions. I saw God work in miraculous ways, providing for my family. What made the biggest impact on me was God’s name and reputation. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am most passionate about the idea that Jesus is who He says He is.
A few years ago, I read i>Red Moon Rising. The book was both exciting and depressing. It brought back memories of the ways that I had seen God work as a young boy. While this was normal for me growing up, in my ministry I had experienced very little of the miraculous.
This year, I entered my ninth year on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at McDaniel College, 25 miles northwest of Baltimore. We set some lofty goals for the year – we wanted to see fifteen new believers on my campus. We had never seen more than eight students convert in one year, and on a small campus of 1,800, fifteen represented a huge number. One thing was sure, we had to try some new things.
In the back of my head, I wasn’t sure about this number, but I wanted to trust God for something that was bigger than me. I was tired of seeing six to eight students choose to follow Jesus each year, and I longed for more. But it was a scary thing to tell the student leaders, and my supporters about this number. What would happen if we didn’t reach this goal? What would it say about me and my leadership?
I love prayer and I value prayer. And yet, when I looked at my schedule this fall, very little of my time was spent interceding. Trust in God was more implied in my life than actually evidenced. So, I decided to spend two hours a week praying in the chapel on campus, which I realized was five percent of my time. That didn’t seem like too much. Surely I could spend five percent of my time praying!
And so, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00-4:00 p.m., each week during the semester, I could be found in the chapel. Every time I began in prayer, I thought about how little sense it made. My to-do list was huge. But, I gave it to God, and I began each time by acknowledging that this really was the best use of my time.
We saw God show up in some truly powerful ways this semester! Many of them happened only through the moving of the Holy Spirit, like the woman who chased down a small group leader in the dorm and said, “I went to church for the first time in years this week, and during worship, I felt a presence, larger than me, that was all around me. Can you help me understand what was happening?” Two nights later she gave her life to Jesus.
A seeker came to our fall conference, mostly because her parents wanted her to. The first night, she was pretty freaked out by everyone worshiping. The next day, as she talked with my InterVarsity partner Julie Blauwkamp, she gave her life to Christ.
The same Spirit who was at work when I was a little kid is at work today. The same Spirit who is at work around the world now is at work at McDaniel College. God is in the business of making His name known – and it is actually what He does best! What a joy and privilege it was to be a part of how He is working at McDaniel. I still don’t think that I have wrapped my head around the fact that thirteen students made the decision to follow Jesus.
I do know that prayer will not just continue to be “a” strategy. For me it will be “the” strategy.
Josh Foster first shared this testimony at www.24-7prayer.us/.