Kristin Nesslar / March 8, 2015 / An update from the COMission student president
When I finished high school in Largo, I had amazing friends, teachers, and leaders in my church and school that had cared for me and invested in me spiritually. So, I came to college excited to go into a non-Christian setting. However, I left with a warning that many students who profess to be Christian will walk away from their faith in their first semester at university. I, along with my sister, Jennifer was determined not to let this happen, and instead use the environment to bring God glory, no matter how intense the challenges would be.
But nobody told me that I may be lonely. The first thing Jennifer and I did was try to find other believers who were mission minded; believers who would be our friends—just like we had back home. It was SO hard. Jennifer and I made one true friend—a guy who lived across the hallway. He was wrestling with many issues with Christianity and logical thought. Jennifer and I talked to him a lot about spiritual things. For the first time in our lives, we found ourselves trying to navigate the edge between showing we cared about him in true friendship—showing him he was more than a project, and communicating the truth of the Gospel.
I hope this shows the reality of our campus climate. Jennifer and I were intentionally seeking out someone—anyone—who would come alongside us in true Christian friendship, and we could not find it anywhere.
I was in a first semester freshman honors class that, in short, was trying to get us to “expand our minds”. Near the end of the semester, the class knew who the Christians were, as we were somewhat singled at by the professor. One of these professed Christians was a girl that sat across the room. I knew nothing about her except that her name was Katie, and she lived in the other building on campus. One day, we got paired together for a class activity. After we were finished, she looked at me and said, “You’re a Christian, right? Have you heard of the 9:01?” I had never heard of it, or of the organization COMission that headed it up. She proceeded to tell me about it, and invited me to it. I don’t know if she realized how much that meant to me, but it was the first time at USFSP that a Christian had invited me to something, purely out of friendship.
The next Wednesday night that came, Jennifer and I went to the 9:01. At that time, it was composed of a relatively small group of people, but a lot of things happened that night. Katie introduced us to nearly everyone. During the meeting, Katie shared before the group how the Lord was at work in her life. Later, Ryan Carver shared about a topic that Jennifer and I had been trying to share with our friend. Also, I think Micah Wharrie cracked a raw egg on someone’s head. Regardless, suddenly the people that I was looking for and praying for were all together in the same room. I got involved with COMission as much as I could, as quickly as I could. As I became more and more involved, I found that this was a group that was focused on doing mission, they supported me in my area of influence on campus, challenged me to do things that I would have been too apprehensive to do by myself, and made me rethink the way I viewed others with lifestyles that were completely different than mine. I’m not sure I’ve ever been a part of a close knit group of believers. I thank God for the way they have stretched me, encouraged me, and cared for me.
When Katie introduced me to COMission, I had no idea how new the group was to USFSP (and this explains why I had never heard of it before). You, church body, had only sent Ryan to USFSP a little over a year prior to when I came. I want to say thank you being faithful to pray for and support this ministry, even when at the beginning, it did not seem very fruitful. I thank God often for you all, and I pray often that other churches around the world will be faithful to following His leading, even when they can’t immediately see results.
Since my start at USFSP, I am consistently amazed to see what God has been doing through COMission, and each and every believer involved in it. I have seen him answer prayers, and send many more workers to us, as well as prepare hearts of nonbelievers to hear the message of the Gospel.
At the beginning of this semester, we had a table on campus for several days and we raffled off an Amazon gift card. Our raffle card had a place on it where a student could answer a few questions about their spiritual beliefs, and indicate if they would be interested in talking more with us about spiritual beliefs over free coffee. We were so surprised by how many people were willing to meet up again! We already have a couple Bible studies that have formed out of this with people who are openly not Christians and we are praying for more.
We have seen God working through a volleyball-like game called Spikeball. We have seen many students come out and play with us that would never step foot in a Bible study or another meeting.
This semester we also have a Skeptics Bible Study, we have formed other one-on-one Bible Studies, we’ve shared the gospel with countless students in the center area of the school through an outreach we call Question-4-A-Coke, and we have seen many new students who are near and far from God come to our weekly campus meeting called the 9:01. We would love you to come alongside us in prayer for all of these things.
Finally, our weekly community group has played an important role in our ministry on campus. We have seen students both near to God and far from God come from campus and join in our group. Also, we have some in our group who do not attend USFSP. Their care and example is vital as we are together on mission, making Jesus famous. We are so also encouraged to hear of their faithfulness to the Gospel in their workplaces.
I hope the way that God has worked and is working through COMission encourages you. Thank you so much church family; know that we are encouraged by you as well!