I’m one of the few. Let’s just say that. There weren’t many kids from my youth group or church camp who decided to go to a state school like I did.
I’m in my third year at the University of Oklahoma studying public relations. And I’m a Christian.
When I first told people that I was for sure going to OU, I got some mixed reactions from other Christians. I could tell by the looks on people’s faces and the silence or the few comments that followed that it wasn’t a choice everyone approved of and the disapproval had nothing to do with sports rivalries.
You can imagine that I started to have second thoughts even though from the start of my one and only college visit to Norman I knew it would be my home for the next four years.
There were times when I wondered if I was doing the right thing? If I was following God’s will by going to such a “worldly” place?
That was until a friend said the most encouraging thing anyone ever said to me when it came to my college decision.
“State schools need Christians, too.”
To this day, I carry that memory in my mind. Whenever I start to doubt OU as the right decision, I remember what she told me because, yes, state schools desperately need Christians.
They need Christians because we are called to be a light on a hill.
They need Christians because every semester there are countless men who call themselves Christians that yell at the students simply walking to class on the South Oval and tell them that they are going to Hell.
They need Christians because there are a lot of lost souls at a state school.
They need Christians because if there aren’t Christians on campus, then they only know the stereotype.
They need Christians because if there aren’t Christians, then the Bible-beating, Hell-fire-and-brimstone preacherman who stands outside of Dale Hall will be the only thing they know about Christ.
Though people never told me, I think there were a few who had expectations of me falling away or at the very least my faith not being a strong as it could be.
In some ways they would be right. I don’t start my day with chapel. I don’t have hundreds or thousands of Christians surrounding me in class or at extracurricular events. I don’t have professors who start class with a prayer or scripture reading.
Instead, daily Bible reading and study is up to me and me alone. I’m surrounded by people who curse and who think that the harder they partied and the more “turnt” they got last weekend, the more of a person they are. And I have professors who will straight up say I’m ignorant for believing what I believe and have no problem trashing those beliefs. But it’s because of all this that I am a stronger Christian. It’s a kind of strength going to a Christian school never could have afforded me.
(Photo courtesy of Kathryn Patterson)