After The Party
Seventeen years ago, I left my house with my bags packed, excited to leave home for the first time. I remember being excited about living in the dorm, meeting new people and being nervous trying to make sure I did not get lost on campus. Little did I know what major decisions I would be making that very weekend.
The very first night at Murray State I remember being asked to go to a party. I was excited to meet new people and deep down I had always wanted to know what a college party would be like. That same night a friend of mine, Tim Bundren, invited me to go to Hardin Baptist Church the next morning. I was a young believer and knew I needed to get connected to a church so I was thankful that someone had reached out to me. I went to the party that night and was tempted with sin like never before but I also went to church the next day. I kept going to parties but for some reason I kept going back to Hardin Baptist Church.
Eventually, through Christ, this church would change my life. I got baptized at Hardin. Hardin would help me develop convictions about college parties and help me fight sin. Through the church I developed friendships with men that knew and lived out the Bible. Through relationships at Hardin I was taught about marriage, evangelism, leadership, and the attributes of God. It was there I labored with other college students to share my faith on the campus of Murray State. As I reflect on my freshmen year I can only imagine how different my life would be like had I not been invited to church that first weekend of school. I think of how much sin I would have gotten myself into in college and how that would have affected my marriage and career. I think of how much regret I would have in all areas of life. My life was forever changed just by someone asking me to go to church!
As I helped move in freshmen this past weekend, the feelings of what it was like as a new college student came back to me and it led me to pray for the young men and women that will be starting another semester at Murray State. There will be life decisions made such as career paths, where they will live, and whom they will marry. There will also be decisions made regarding Christ. Many young men and women will leave youth groups and Christian families and will have to decide whether they will stay true to Christ or reject Him. Other students might hear about Christ for the first time. With all of that said, I am reminded of a quote from Two Centuries of Christian Activity at Yale which Trent Sheppard quoted in his book God on Campus:
“The Yale revival started on the day of prayer for colleges and, according to the testimony of Mr. H.E. Barnes and Mr. E.B. Furbish, both of the classes of 1860, was characterized by multiplied and crowded meetings, which sometimes embraced every member of a given college class. There were no special preachers.”
I love the last part of the quote, “There were no special preachers.” You do not have to have a Masters of Divinity or be able to debate all of the hot theological topics to help change someone’s life for Christ. Sometimes it is simple as just being a friend and asking them to go to church. That might be the first step that will save them from decisions of regret and point them to a relationship with Christ.
As you see college students come into our church, I ask that you make them feel welcome and pray for them. They need it! I ask that you pray for our students to be bold with the Gospel. Pray that we have many baptisms this semester. Pray that revival breaks out on the campus of Murray State. Pray for the 18 year old that comes into church after partying until three in the morning the night before. He might be one of your next pastors.