Jason Hogan, an active participant in the Irish Student Life movement, shares his perspective on building faith in the crucible of college life.
I have heard people say that, as a young Christian, your college years are when you either find your own faith in God or lose it. College is a unique place where thousands of people from hundreds of countries, alive and wide- eyed with the novelty of adulthood, come together in a raw, unrefined, campus-sized micro-society. All those who previously had no definition beyond ‘secondary school student’ now become dancers, writers, teachers, actors, musicians, scientists, engineers, psychologists, athletes.
Amidst this broiling, chaotic culture of learning and living we are ruthlessly stripped of our misconceptions and naiveties. We are forced to re-examine everything we know and this leads to a comprehensive rebuilding of the self. You don’t ‘find’ yourself in college, you create yourself.
For the 18-year- old with a Christian upbringing, this is the time when you must really discover God for yourself, or cast Him aside along with all the other delusions you brought with you from childhood. This compact and incredibly diverse ecosystem of young, critical minds leaves no room for idyllic, wishful beliefs.
I entered Trinity College in 2013 with a faith mostly inherited from my parents, but over the course of the year I started to find more of my own personal faith. I unexpectedly found it waiting for me among a small collective of students and staff in this organisation called Agapé Student Life. Led by a friend, I stumbled into a scholar apartment one Thursday afternoon to find a group of students laughing, eating, chatting together and talking about Jesus. I ended up diving headlong into everything Student Life offered; Bible studies, on-campus meetings, weekend trips, coffee crawls, mentorship, conducting surveys, and sharing the Gospel and message of Jesus with other people on campus. The surveys, where we asked students what they thought of Jesus, really solidified my outward confidence in what I believe.
I found that my faith is rarely stronger than when I am faced with a stranger telling me that my God is not real. The aforementioned ecosystem of learning and critical thinking may be merciless in its sniffing out and eradicating of false ideas, but it is also a perfect environment for the sharing and spreading of real, divine ideas and axioms.
This made reaching out to people with Student Life exciting and prosperous, we encountered many students with countless concepts of God, almost all of whom were willing to talk and listen to us as we exchanged beliefs. It is through experiences such as this that, rather than me creating myself in college, I am slowly starting to see God create in me the person that He wants. It is thrilling.
Student Life continues to inspire me, and, strengthened by a revelatory first year of college, I now look forward to doing bigger and bolder things with God and with Student Life in second year.
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