Belonging before believingI was talking to John on a hike up East Rock, a local hike that we do every fall. As he began his senior year, he decided to commit deeply to the Chi Alpha community upon the encouragement of a student in our group. John briefly shared with me that with the pandemic, he felt lacking when it came to friendships.
“But,” he said, “I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year regarding that.”
John has since barely missed a community gathering – he was even one of the first to register for Fall Retreat! He does not come from a faith background, but every week sits in the front row of our worship gatherings and engages with worship and scripture. We have been praying for people like John.
What’s beautiful is it was the friend that invited him – who has faithfully loved him well and allowed John to experience vulnerability in friendship – that disrupted his reality and provoked him to seek God. It reminds me of the story in Capernaum some men bring a paralyzed man to Jesus by bringing an opening in the roof above him – and Jesus heard and restores him. This has always been one of my favorite stories in the gospels, as it’s a beautiful picture of what can happen in community: we bring one another before Jesus.
Over lunch with Ben last week, John expressed how meaningful it was that someone from his core group came and prayed for him during Fall Retreat. I can’t help but wonder if these are the first times John has ever been prayed over by name.
John – and many others like him – are still on the journey of knowing God. But I pray that we would continue to be a place where people can belong before they believe – and through belonging, discover the life abundant available in God’s kingdom.
|(Top) Fall Retreat, one of the best weekends of the year! We’re grateful these students would give a weekend in the middle of busy midterms to seek God together – and believe that God honored their sacrifice! God’s presence was undeniably thick throughout. One student reflected: “Fall Retreat was like getting new glasses. The truth of the hope we have in Christ was made so powerfully real, and the way I view my life at Yale was completely upended and rearranged, with Jesus at the center, where He belongs.”|
(Bottom) Ben and I with some of the men and women we have the privilege of walking alongside more closely!
|(Left) We snapped this photo while apple-picking, only to realize that it captures a discipleship lineage! |
(Right) Ben and his core group! A few of the guys are new believers, which has been really sweet to witness. He and his co-leaders cooked dinner together – one first year saying “this is the best meal I’ve had since coming to Yale.” Our prayer continues to be for our home to be a place of ministry and relationships – where people experience the hospitality of Jesus!
Students seeking God for the first time
I mentioned last time that there are quite a number of unchurched students joining our community. Several have really committed to seeking God and his community – and are experiencing the presence of God!
The miracle of community
Wehad the opportunity at Fall Retreat to spend time walking around and verbally thanking and affirming one another. There were many tears in the room as we honored one another with our words and expressed gratitude – I think we understood what a miracle this kind of community is!
Against distracted, hurried lives
We pray for God to break through and change these students’ realities from distraction to intentionality and reflection, especially during this time of year. As Dallard Willard wrote, “Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day.” There are many students that we end up not seeing for months – so we’re asking God to supernaturally draw near to them!
Spring break trips
November is when we recruit students for our spring break missions trips! These trips are always transformative for the individual and culture-forming for our community, though definitely a sacrifice. Pray that God would lead students to take a step of faith to step out of their comfort zone!
Thank you for faithfully praying for and partnering with our ministry at Yale. I am grateful to have an incredible team of partners. Please let me know how I can be praying for you!
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