Reaping Where We Have Not Sown
“…I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed…” – Matt 25:26
“A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ … Then the master of the house … said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.’” – Luke 14:16–23
These two passages have been in the back of my mind this semester. They remind us that God wants us to work faithfully, industriously, and creatively to reach people with the good news that intimate fellowship with God can be had at the feast He has prepared. God expects us to find people and compel them to come to His feast. That can be challenging enough in normal times, but what does that look like in the midst of a global pandemic? Despite constantly shifting university regulations and canceled ministry events, God has been showing me that He is at work bringing people to Himself.
Many of the normal avenues for meeting freshmen were canceled by WVU, including Freshmen Welcome Week events. Nevertheless, we connected with students using banners that we were able to purchase this year thanks to several special donations in July/ We hung one banner in the Mountainlair, the student union building, which helped build awareness of our ministry even without club fairs. One student, Mercy, who is an international student from Africa, saw it, contacted me, and has come to our small group Bible studies.
In addition to banners, we doubled our efforts to reach out to students via social media. We primarily used Instagram to make contact with students. I spent countless hours looking through student profiles to find WVU students. At first, I looked for Christian students. However, bearing in mind the passages above, I started reaching out to any current WVU student I could find, offering to have coffee or a meal with them (the only in-person activity the university allowed in the beginning). God blessed this effort, and I was able to meet with many new contacts and invite them to our small group Bible studies. However, by mid-October it became harder to find current students that I hadn’t already contacted. Remembering that God helps us reap where we do not sow, I started contacting current high school seniors who had already decided to attend WVU, and invited them to our virtual Bible studies and social events. And that is how I met Sarah*.
Sarah is a high school senior in upstate New York. She grew up in a strict Jewish home. During her freshman year God stirred in her a curiosity about the Bible. She bought a copy online and hid it from her parents. As she read the Bible on her own and watched YouTube videos about Christianity, she became convinced that Jesus is the Messiah. This October, three years after she first started exploring Christianity, I found her on IG and invited her to one of our virtual Bible studies. She attended, and afterwards she exclaimed how grateful she was because she “had nothing like it.” A few weeks later she asked to talk with me on the phone because she had many questions about Christianity. Over an hour and a half we talked about her testimony, forgiveness, and prayer. Her final question was whether there was a place in Morgantown where she could be baptized!
Sarah’s story is a reminder that God is constantly at work saving people through His word. Sarah and her boyfriend plan to attend WVU this coming fall. I am excited to meet her and the other high school seniors I’ve met through IG who have expressed interest in RUF. Outreach on Instagram is not what I imagined when I was ordained as an “evangelist to WVU.” However, the servants of the Master are sent to the highways and hedges to reap where they have not sown. Praise God for blessing our outreach and please pray for these students to get involved.
Peter Green, Campus Minister, West Virginia University
*Sarah’s name has been change to protect her privacy