College Student or Missionary?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of The Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen

Matthew 28:19-20

Beginning my freshman year of college, there were some things I knew to expect and some things I did not. I expected to enter an environment that promoted learning and educational growth. I expected God was going to use this season of my life to prepare me for trials later down the road. What I did not expect was seeing the practical application of the great commission on a college campus. Making disciples of all nations is something missionaries do, so how could this be? I entered the college scene wholeheartedly focused on myself. Being a high school dropout, I never considered I’d set foot on a college campus. When God opened doors and I was able to earn my GED, the way I saw myself changed. Much of the humility I carried in my heart turned to pride. I thought God put me on the college campus to build up my knowledge so I could further my goals. I certainly wasn’t expecting the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

You see… everything God gives us, from our physical possessions to the wisdom in our brains, is for His Glory. I always thought of college life as a formative season. However, as the semester progressed, God made it clear he didn’t just want to use me later – He wanted to use me now.

In each of my classes, I would sit down for fifteen minutes before class. For two days each week, I found myself surrounded by people I can talk and relate to with zero distractions. This is the kind of environment missionaries around the world would bend over backward for. Each class is ripe with opportunities to build relationships with people – not just people in my own friend group but people I would normally never hang out with.

There is a shift in priorities when you start going to college with a missionary’s mindset. Yes, we still go to learn and prepare ourselves for our future careers. However, we do not get to turn our “Jesus switch” on and off just because we are not in church or on a mission trip. It’s true… it can be awkward to strike up a conversation with a random person when everyone just wants to sit in silence on their phone until class starts. However, I’m willing to bet most people going to college are capable of making friends. In Jesus’ ministry, He did not just walk around preaching to everyone He saw. On many occasions, He simply ate with people. He invested in the lives of His disciples. Jesus took ministry personally, and so should we. It’s not a hard thing to start a conversation in a classroom by asking about an assignment or study guide. After enough conversations, is it so weird to invite someone to lunch? Given enough time and intentional conversations, “God conversations” have a knack for showing up on their own.

Imagine if in each of our classes we had two or three people we were intentional with. We prayed for those classmates. We talked to them regularly during class time. If we did this in four classes a semester, that is eight people. What if those eight did the same and so forth? Imagine the impact that would make on our college campuses! 

In reality, we don’t have much time we get to spend in college, and when we look back, will all the memories be of the final exams? Will the big sports events and hanging out with friends be the highlights of our college years? I have just finished my first semester, and I have so much to learn, but there is one thing I have learned from this semester. I wish to do more than just get ready for the next season. Wherever we go, it should be our goal to leave a lasting impression. There should be evidence a child of God was there. In truth, we are all missionaries in a foreign land. If you are a college student then your campus is your mission field.