An Example of Evangelism on Campus
When asked to share my story, the first thing that comes to mind is the story of how I came to believe in Jesus, so that is what I will share with you today.
My name is Jackie and I am a twenty-something living in Wilmington, North Carolina on a church plant. Life has been crazy since graduating college, but the Lord has been with me through every tear, joy, and circumstance. But if you asked me what I would be doing with my life five years ago, I wouldn’t be saying the same thing.
Bitter is a wonderful way to describe my heart before I knew Jesus. While this sounds harsh, it was a product of the way my circumstances and past ruled me.
I’m an only child, parented by two lost souls addicted to the world. My father’s vice was alcohol; my mother’s was prescription pain medication. These substances sucked the life out of them as individuals, and eventually out of their marriage. So, they ended things in 1998. It was your typical divorce story: we lost the house, my mom and I lost our sense of belonging, and I eventually became numb to it all. But I went with it, because it was all I had.
Amidst it all, my grandmother was grounded in her faith and forced me inside the four walls of her small town Methodist church, where they talked more about each other than this God they worshiped. But eventually, I went with that too. I said I believed in this heaven, this Lord, and this salvation, but it was all an act for fear of being unaccepted. Not only did I feel the need to carry the burden of my parent’s failed marriage, but I felt the need to carry a burden of acceptance and perfection. I constantly fought to achieve a state of so-called normalcy among the madness that surrounded my home life, but I masked it well. I did well in school, I had good friends, and at the end of the day, my parents loved me. But there was always something missing.
Little did I know this “something missing” would become very tangible. On January 11, 2005 I lost my father to a massive heart attack. None of us saw it coming. But like all things, I put on a mask of false strength and courage, and just went with it. I didn’t want to be defined by what had happened to me any longer, so I fought harder to gain the approval of my friends and loved ones.
However, the fight became an uphill climb that I eventually stopped caring for. Many times, I thought to myself that this God that I said I believed in couldn’t be real, or good, or anything that I had heard about for so many years. If He was, there was no way He would punish me in the capacity: first, taking my parent’s marriage, and then taking a parent. So yet again, I did what I did best, and chose to be numb. I stopped caring about friendships, school, and my family. Instead, I turned to relationships and alcohol for relief, even when they did nothing but leave me thirsty for more.
When I got to college, my entire perspective of life changed because of one girl. I knew of her from high school; she was always the good one, with the perfect family and the perfect life. So naturally, as someone feeling so broken and unworthy, I wanted nothing to do with her. Yet she still pursued me. At lunch each week she would talk to me about Jesus and how He is close to the broken-hearted, how He died for me, and how He offers freedom through the cross. But I didn’t believe her story to be any different than the ones that I had heard in church for so many years. Rather, I believed that she would eventually stop caring, stop pursuing, and this Jesus fellow would finally be out of my view. But she didn’t. More importantly, He didn't.
No matter how many times I blew her off, she continued to seek out a friendship with me. And with time, the Lord softened my heart to her words and to His Word.
One December, I was at a conference with this friend, and a group of us got to talking about one of the sermon’s we had recently heard. My friend continued to share Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV) with me, which reads:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Through these Scriptures, I realized God is not some being in the sky waiting to judge or punish me; rather He is a real, personal, loving Father who sent His son to this earth to die for me, rising again to put an end to my shame and guilt. No longer did I have to bear the weight of my parent’s marriage, my father’s death, or my own personal image. Jesus paid for that. He took on that weight and left me with a decision: to follow or to remain. So I followed His call.
With this, I want to challenge you, whether you are a believer or not. The Lord calls us to do nothing in these verses other than rest in Christ. It never reads to do x, y or z in order to be saved. It doesn’t call us to just go with it or to carry burdens on our own, like I believed for so long. Rather it says that in order to be justified and redeemed, we simply need to accept a gift from God through grace.
So fight to do this: rest in Him.
How? Simply start with something that increases your curiosity for His character: journal, sing, run, read, play, write. Accept the Lord’s sacrifice for your life and for your friendship. He loves you, so let Him.