Last year, my church did an Easter cantata called “Beyond the Cross.” The musical score was well-liked and received by the director and the choir, but the narration was very bland. I was asked to write a drama in place of the original narration.
Instead of a traditional drama, I wrote a series of “letters” exchanged between a pastor and a college student. The letter was “written” onstage by the appropriate actor (our church’s pastor and one of the church’s college students) and read aloud between each song in the program. The letters were written specifically to tie in with a song. The result was a powerful program that, I hope, touched hearts in the audience watching.
For anyone wondering, I am an unashamed Christian, and I hope that you see that reflected in my work and in my conduct.
I’m writing to you because I’m struggling. Before I left for college, everything was so clear to me. I knew what was right and wrong, I was surrounded by a supportive church family, and I understand what Christ would want me to do.
Now I’m at college, and I feel like I’m slowly losing my way. I’ve tried attending some of the local churches, but they seem more like social clubs than the body of Christ. There’s one Christian club on campus, led by a professor, who teaches the Bible as literature rather than the inspired Word of God, and spends as much time in the Koran as he does in the Bible. My World Literature professor teaches it the same way, and openly mocks anyone who believes there is any more value in it than a modern movie.
I think I’m doing and saying things I shouldn’t, but I’m not sure anymore. So many professors and other students keep telling me that I’m wrong, that there isn’t a “right or wrong” in the way I believe. I used to have a moral compass, but I’m not sure it still points north.
I need help, Pastor, and I need prayer.
May this letter find you in the spirit of the Lord. I am praying for you. I have shared some of your struggles with the church, and they are praying for you as well.
I hope that in some small way Christ may use my words to help you with your struggle. There are two things I believe can help you find your way, and ensure your moral compass still points north.
The first is to spend time in Bible each day. Second Timothy, chapter three tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” Catch that last one? Training in righteousness–helping us make sure we’re doing what’s good and right and holy in God’s eyes! Along with this letter, I’ve included a devotional I think you’ll find very helpful in college.
The second action I believe you should take is to find some other believers on campus. It may be difficult, but if you ask around, you will likely find someone. It is important for all Christians to have fellowship with one another–it’s the reason we all go to church on Sunday!
In Acts 2, the early church in Jerusalem practiced that sort of fellowship every day. “And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Fellowship allows us to support one another. That support is critical when we’re being assaulted on all sides, being told our faith is meaningless, that our actions are meaningless, and that our beliefs are not welcome in this day and age.
I will continue to pray for both your steadfast faith, and for your need for fellowship.
Thank you for your prayers and advice, please thank the church for their support as well.
I’ve still been struggling with several of my professors, especially my World Literature instructor. Everyone except me seems to agree with her when she compares the Bible to Greek mythology or a fantasy novel.
I have found a few other believers, though. I’ve been continuing to visit churches to try to find a community of believers, and realized that some of the other guys from my dorm were doing the same thing I was. I’ve talked to several of them now and they’ve been in the same boat as me.
We’re meeting now, on Thursday nights and Saturdays. We’re still looking for a church home, but we have each other now. We’ve started a new Bible study on Paul, and I feel like I’m finally stable. I know what’s right and wrong again, even if my professors are telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Thank you so much for your letters, Pastor. They really help.
May this letter find you in the spirit of Christ. I am glad to hear you have found Christian fellowship, even in a place where you have felt so alone. Christ tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I pray that you are a blessing to them, as they are to you, and that you will all grow in faith and knowledge of the Word.
I write this letter to you because it’s not enough just to have fellowship and improve ourselves. We are called upon to do so much more, even in times when we’re struggling! In Acts 8, the church in Jerusalem was under attack. Members were killed or imprisoned, and many of the rest scattered. But in verse 4, we see that “Those who were scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
Will, I believe you can do great things for the Lord. With your fellowship, you are secure in Christ, but security isn’t enough. Be a witness for our Savior!
Thank you so much for your challenge. Without it, I don’t know if I could’ve done it.
Today, when my professor started her usual discussion of how everything in this world is relative, and there is no “truth”, I did not let it just pass and I have for so long. I stood up and I spoke about the Bible and my faith.
They were all shocked–all of them. My professor wasn’t ready for it, and I took those precious minutes to talk about Christ and the Bible. I laid out the fundamentals: all of us are sinners, that none of us can possibly measure up to perfection. I told them about Christ coming and sacrificing himself for us–the perfect sacrifice–so that we didn’t have to die. I told them about the resurrection, which is why we can have such faith that Christ can redeem us and save us from eternal death.
I’ve never seen my professor so speechless throughout those precious minutes. Several times I thought she was going to stop me, to say something, anything, but all she did was look at me with her mouth open.
I don’t know if I got through to any of them, but Pastor, I took a stand for Christ. It may have been one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I don’t regret a moment of it, not a single word I said.
Thank you so much for your guidance and counsel.
May this letter find you in the spirit of Christ. I am proud to hear of your stand, and your willingness to testify about the truth of Christ. I pray that you have the strength, courage, and wisdom you will need to continue to testify to those around you.
Even though you may not have seen any of them come to Christ, you have done something important. In Luke, chapter 8, we find the parable Christ told about sowing.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
Christ wasn’t speaking about farming–he was really talking about spreading the Good News. While what you said may have fallen on deaf ears, some of what you shared may have been planted in the heart of a classmate, and may eventually lead to salvation.
Remember always our calling, as Jesus spoke of in Mark 16: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature.” While you may not feel like you’re ready for such responsibility, the Holy Spirit will give you the strength and the words you need. Even if you don’t see an immediate effect, your words and actions may lead someone to eternal life with our Savior.
In our Lord Jesus Christ,
I don’t know if you’ll remember me. I was a senior in high school when you came to our church to become our pastor.
When I left home, I left my faith behind. I fell into the world and left Christ behind me. I chose to believe I had been a foolish child, and my education at college was so much more important than some Bible stories I had heard in my youth. My colleagues at the university supported me, telling me over and over how I was so much wiser now that I had left behind the teachings of the church.
How foolish I was!
I spent years of my life working to convince others to follow the same path I had, away from Christ. I truly thought I was helping students by trying to open their eyes to the world, when it was really me that could not see.
That all changed when a student challenged me in class. He spoke of his faith with passion and conviction, and though I wanted to tear him down, it was as though God sealed my lips and would not allow me to stop his testimony.
My heart has been a stone for so many years, but those words shattered it. I knew then, as Christ laid out for me, just how wrong I’d been over all the years. Those words showed me how, even with all the things I’ve done, all the things I’ve said, Christ still wants me.
Thank you, Pastor, for helping a student show me exactly what Christ has done for me, and for all of us.