NICK EICHER, HOST: Well, before we go, and on the subject of happy milestones, WORLD Radio commentator Mary Coleman has a few of her own to share, and a word of encouragement to parents of kids heading off to college.
MARY COLEMAN, COMMENTATOR: The spring of 2018 included two major milestones for my husband Joe and me. In early May, our youngest of seven children graduated from college. At the end of May, Joe and I returned to Princeton for his 35th class reunion. Both events offered an opportunity to thank God for how he used our college experiences to help us all grow spiritually.
I share this joy because I know so many Christian parents worry about sending kids to college. Joe and I certainly battled many nagging questions: Will they forget our lessons about purity? Will they get caught up in the party scene? Will their faith be challenged beyond their spiritual aptitude?
We see clearly now that God had an answer for these questions because college is a mission field. None of our children attended Christian colleges, but campus ministers ensured that Christianity had a strong presence. These saints help families unload plastic bins on move-in day and recruit students for small groups. They don’t make the evening news, but they are on a mission to spread the Good News on college campuses.
Joe and I met in a dorm Bible study, and we both sang in the gospel choir. A local church was a haven for us, along with a young couple who dished up meals and encouragement at their home nearby. Each of our children has a variation of this same testimony, including two who met their spouses during their college years, and others who discovered their spiritual gifts and learned to lead as only college students can.
Our son, for example, was a resident adviser. He not only defended a few girls from abusive male companions, he guided the drunken safely to their dorm rooms.
One of our daughters led a team of students that served in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Other programs enabled our children to witness in Florida, to mentor in Chicago, and to worship with saints in London and Australia.
Even the simple act of choosing whether to attend a small group or a church offered our children the freedom to make their faith personal. Two of our daughters were baptized after attending college. Whatever secular ideas they heard in school were no match for the Spirit’s work in their lives.
Yes, our children yielded to temptation while in college, but even that offered lessons in repentance they could never have while under the safety of my wings.
My own story of waywardness bears this out. Though I had every intention of walking with God when I got to college, I was initially swept up in the party scene and focused on the boys. But God reached my heart one evening as I sat in the godless atmosphere of a secular music concert. To get us on our feet after the intermission, the performer burst onto stage and asked: “Why are you all sittin’ down? This ain’t church!”
The words stung my soul, and a wave of conviction consumed me. Within three days, I had recommitted my life to Christ. Within 18 months, I had married my college sweetheart. And here we are, 35 years, seven children, and four grandchildren later. Thank God His plan for us included college.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Mary Coleman.