Nichole Morris used to live in a bubble. She was content with life on campus at Grace College—her classes, her friends, her stuff. She didn't know any of the people who lived in the small Indiana town near campus, and they didn't know her.
She sought God inside the bubble. She prayed, she studied, and she strategized about how to do his will. It became clear that sharing her joy and faith with people beyond campus was important, so she took part in several campus ministries, from service groups that traveled hours away to run-down inner-city neighborhoods to clown teams that performed at local churches. But during her sophomore year at Grace, Nichole Morris made a significant discovery—there were people who needed help, needed God, right there in Warsaw, Indiana.
"We had no interaction with the non-Christians where we lived," Nichole says. "I felt burdened that we needed to do something practical, uncomplicated, but something that would get us in contact with people in town."
So she and a friend started frequenting coffee shops, trying to strike up conversations with the locals. Then they recruited friends from Grace and baked cookies for third-shift workers at Wal-Mart. Even more Grace students came along when they carried groceries for people at the supermarket.
Meanwhile, the college-funded ministry groups continued to serve God in Chicago and in area churches. But then Deb Musser, a Grace administrator who coordinated the official campus ministries, found out about what Nichole and her friends were doing—from their own reports, and from the thank-you notes that arrived at Grace from bewildered but grateful shoppers and midnight clerks. Soon Nichole and her buddies' activities were upgraded into an official campus ministry called Break Out.
"At a Christian college you talk ministry, and you talk about what it's like to live for Jesus," says Deb, "but when you see a move from academic Christianity to something that's real and vibrant in students' hearts, it's beyond words."
Eric Foster-Whiddon had a heart for the people in his community, too. He wanted to reach high school students in Franklin Springs, Georgia, where he attends Emmanuel College. The school launched a coffeehouse targeted toward area teens, and The Main stream has evolved into a premier regional venue for live Christian music under Eric's supervision.
"I was saved in high school, and music played a huge role in my own growth as a Christian," Eric says. "I was basically discipled by the music I listened to, and because I surrounded myself with Christian music, that influence really helped me stay strong in the faith.
"Somebody just coming into college who has a zeal to be used by God can really do a lot. God will use the things you've been through, and the things you like, to reach people. We learn all this stuff at a Christian college, and we need to make sure we apply it."
It might seem like getting involved in campus ministry is just a natural, automatic part of Christian college life, but the truth is, involvement takes commitment and planning. You arrive at school with nothing on your schedule but classes. Within a week, though, after a barrage of invitations and opportunities, you're committed to approximately 116 meetings per day for organizations ranging from the Math Club to the intercollegiate luge team. Instead of more options, you need a secretary. And sleep.
Eventually, you'll scale down your schedule and choose to concentrate on a couple of activities that really interest you, places where you can make a significant impact. The key to choosing is finding a good fit. If you're passionate about prison ministry, join the prison ministry group. If there isn't a ministry that fits your passion, start one yourself.