Something remarkable happened to me halfway through my senior year of high school. You've heard of the domino theory? Something happens that sets in motion a chain reaction? That was my experience.
I entered my senior year without really thinking much about the future. I was busy scanning the present, trying to make sense out of it. Like most people, I sometimes found life frustrating. But as the year unfolded, I began to think about the negatives a whole lot less. That's because I met a few people, just a few, who were truly different.
Their lives weren't trouble-free. But they didn't let their problems make them bitter. They seemed to have a sense of purpose to their lives, which I admired. And I noticed these people had something else in common: They loved God, and they cared about me.
Faced with authentic faith, I started paying closer attention. I began reading and asking questions, and somewhere in the middle of the year, I took Jesus seriously. The dominoes began falling.
Change swept through my life. I became more of a positive person, I put bitterness behind me, and I started to care more deeply about people other than myself. I woke up one day and realized I was on the other side of a chain reaction. I now fully believed, and I knew Jesus deserved my total commitment.
That encounter changed almost everything about me, including what I was looking for in a college education.
If God had a claim on my life, I wanted to use my energies to advance his purposes in the world. To do that, I reasoned, I would need to understand him better. I would need experience in ministry. I would need the foundation of a caring Christian community. I would need a Christian perspective on all my studies. By the end of my senior year of sweeping change, I had concluded that the best way to meet my new goals was by attending a Christian college.
Here's what I was looking for—and what I found—in my Christian college experience:
In-depth Bible study
I was not raised as a Christian, but I had hung around the church enough to know that Moses broke the Ten Commandments in more ways than one; that David brought Goliath down with a slingshot, and himself with lust; that Thomas finally figured out that believing is seeing, not the other way around. But now that I felt captured by Jesus Christ, I felt captivated by Scripture. My interest was deep. I found it exciting that I could study the Bible at the same serious collegiate level as I would study sociology, psychology, history or science.
I felt motivated. I took classes in personal evangelism, missions, theology and biblical studies. In high school, I had studied Spanish without much enthusiasm. Now I eagerly tackled New Testament Greek.
It was my Christian college that opened up these educational opportunities I would not otherwise have had.
Incredible ministry opportunities
I began to see the world with different eyes. My Christian college put me in touch with opportunities to share my faith on the beach, in parks, on the streets of Los Angeles and Hollywood. I took weeklong missions trips to Mexico. I counseled at camps for underprivileged kids. I shared my faith at rescue missions. I taught Sunday school to kids not much younger than I was, and I directed a youth program.
My Christian college education broadened my horizons. I heard about needs and opportunities worldwide. I met and talked with people who were making a difference all around the world.
A caring family of faith
As I mentioned, I was not raised as a Christian. In fact, we had some pretty significant struggles in my home. As much as I loved my mom, dad, brother and sister, I think it's interesting that God gave me the opportunity to broaden my family.
In college, I met fellow students who became like brothers and sisters to me. I was introduced to a dimension of friendship I had not previously experienced. What was it? That we all understood a deeper purpose in life? That through faith we shared something in common that was beyond us all? That we were all beginning to understand love and acceptance in a way we hadn't before? Whatever it was, I found it in my Christian college experience.