Congratulations to our 2020 College Essay Winner – Elizabeth Powell! As the 2020 winner, she is the recipient of a $500 College Scholarship. Elizabeth is a member of FBC Cochran and a student at Middle Georgia State University. This year’s College Essay Topic was “My Life as a Christ Follower While in College.”
Below is Elizabeth’s Essay:
In my opinion, college is one of the hardest places to show the love of Jesus on a day to day basis. How do you follow the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” when there are so many different worldviews and religions?1. I am a student at Middle Georgia State University in Cochran, and we see many students from all over the world. I have met people who are lost and have nowhere to turn. They believe that they can find hope in relationships, degrees, and partying. As a Christian, the only true hope we have is through Jesus Christ. I have many spiritual hopes as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I want to tell others that God has a plan for our life, and He loves us, no matter what our past may be.
I believe that one of the biggest problems that college students face is the desire to know God’s plan for their life. We often want Him to lay out His whole plan and clearly reveal it to us. One of my spiritual hopes as a disciple of Christ is to show others that we do not have to know every part of God’s plan. Over the last several weeks, I have heard the phrase: “You just need to take the next right step” many times. I am learning to just step out in faith, one step at the time and the rest of the pieces will fall into place. In his book, “Finding God’s Life for my Will,” Mike Donehey shares the story of a man who traveled to India. He wanted to find Mother Teresa and have her pray that he would discover God’s plan for his life. She responded…” No, I will pray that you trust God.”2 We do not have to know God’s entire plan; we just have to trust Him and follow His path for our life. I recently heard a message by Bro. Bryan Parker, the senior pastor at Kingsland First Baptist Church in Kingsland, Georgia. In his message, he talked about the struggle to know God’s plan. He referenced Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”.3 Bro. Bryan reminded us, if we are walking with God, He will lead us on the right path. We may not know where God is leading us, but if we are following Him, we will succeed.
I am active in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) at Middle Georgia State University. I currently serve on the leadership team, where my job is to introduce myself to new students as they come into our building. We have worship on Monday nights and girl’s and boy’s Bible studies throughout the week. We also volunteer with the homeless ministry in Athens and Macon. Many students come to the BCM because they are missing “something” in their life. Our goal is to show Jesus’ love to these students so that they can have a relationship with Jesus too. Over the last two weeks, we have seen six or seven students come to Christ. We try to host events throughout the year to bring in new students. We recently hosted a cornhole tournament and we are planning a fall and Christmas party.
One thing that I have observed is that students feel like they are not capable of ministering to others. I am guilty of believing that, because I am not a preacher or a speaker, I cannot share my story. The truth is that we are all ministers in one way or another. We all have a story to tell that can help others. I believe that the best way to share our story is to show the love of Jesus to everyone around us. If we show others that we love them, they will be more willing to listen to our story.
I also want to show students that, no matter the situation, God stays the same. This past year has been uncertain with the coronavirus. Many plans are changed, events are cancelled, and we have new guidelines to follow. We have experienced a lot of uncertainty. We are not able to interact with students as much because so many classes are online. We cannot minister to students in the dorms because we are not allowed to go inside the dorms. Although there is so much uncertainty, we can be certain that God stays the same. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”4
Another one of my spiritual hopes as a disciple is to show students that their identity is in Christ. We want to define ourselves by what we have done, or who we have become. In the book “Shaken” by Tim Tebow, he says that “Identity doesn’t come from who we are, but whose we are”. 5 We are defined as a child of God, not as a failure or a disappointment. I want to share with students that, no matter what we have done, God can redeem our past and make us a child of God. In his song, “The God Who Stays,” Matthew West sings the lyrics “You tell me nothing I have ever done can separate my heart From the God who stays.”6 God will always love us no matter what we have done or how we define ourselves.
My spiritual hopes as a disciple are to show students that God has a plan for their life, He stays the same no matter the circumstances, and our identity is found in Christ alone. I have experienced some challenges in my life, but God has carried me through them. My desire is to share with others how God has provided for me, no matter the circumstances. In college, the opportunities to share Jesus are unique, but I know that God will give me the ability to shine my light in a world that desperately needs the hope of Jesus.