I’ve had unique college opportunities in these last few years. By the time I’m nineteen, I will have taken classes at four different colleges—two community, two Christian. Right now I split up mornings between two different college campuses.
Only eight miles separate the colleges, but they are worlds apart. At one campus, being a Christian is not only normal, it’s expected and “cool.” At the other, it’s rare to find another person who even cares about religion, let alone loves Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
On one campus, CCM music is played as often as pop. On the other, I’ve heard it only once. One day walking through the parking lot I heard For King and Country’s “Proof of Your Love” booming from a car, and I wanted to give the guy a high five.
The second term of ASL at community college, I discovered that the girl sitting next to me lived in Asia as a missionary kid for about ten years. Connecting with another Jesus follower on a spiritually dark campus was awesome. I realized how much more I appreciated meeting a believer in ASL class than the many Christians I sit with on a daily basis in writing class. It’s so easy to forget the bond fellow believers have in Jesus when we take our faith in Him for granted.
I’ve learned it’s a lost world out there, people. Curse words are everywhere, no matter the campus, but most of my community college classmates don’t get through a sentence without using at least one expletive. One of my closest ASL classmates is a single mom of two kids, and of all the students who are parents, I know of only one who is married. Another guy told me in a sign language conversation that he and his sister are both gay.
But I’ve also learned not to make assumptions about your classmates’ lives and backgrounds.
That guy in ASL class with the laidback smile who uses expletives in every joke he tells? He served as a medic on an Air Force helicopter, and now he’s the proud dad of a couple kids and trying to figure out his direction in life.
The girl sitting next to me in chapel at the Christian University? Jesus pulled her out of a life of Mormonism in Utah, and she pleads with God to help her reach her family with the truth of the gospel.
The guy who wears his hat backwards and plays baseball for the community college team? He’s not just a popular guy taking ASL to get second language credits. He’s completely deaf in one ear, 30% and counting in the other. Surgery can’t correct it, and he’s learning ASL because one day soon he’ll be completely deaf.
I’m thankful I’ve had both college experiences this year. They’ve taught me to appreciate peoples’ stories so much more. At the Christian university, it’s easy to assume that every student is born-again and become apathetic about talking about my faith. At the community college, it’s easy to think that I have nothing in common with a single mom or a homosexual classmate.
But if I just step back and look through the eyes of Jesus, I see them differently. I cry for my classmates who don’t know Jesus. I know I can’t save them, but I can be witness to them in my speech (or signs, as the case may be) and actions, and take every opportunity to tell them about Jesus’ work in my life. I may not agree with their lifestyle, but I remind myself that God is the Judge, not me, and I am just as much a sinner as they are.
Let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love.
–King and Country, “Proof of Your Love”