This is the fourth installment about a missions trip I took with my university over spring break. Stay tuned for a few more updates from the great Ocean State.
I again had to conquer my anxiety of bringing up Jesus to busy strangers in our second challenge. Instead of roaming the streets and sparking up conversation with bystanders, Christian Student Fellowship — a ministry Travis leads at Johnson and Wales — asked us to stand in the institution’s hallways and pass out information about its weekly programs. To entice the students running from class to class, three friends and I had Airheads, those delightfully fruity, chewy sticks of candy.
Today was the time for me to squash my nervousness of approaching unfamiliar people, so I developed a technique probably known to many a salesman: the smile and shove. To my surprise, we even found a few stragglers who had been looking for a church to call home and were interested in the little flyers we had dispersed with the candy. I felt victorious and unashamed of the approach I used to find those few. We found some people sensitive toward the mission of the church. But as strong and successful as I felt in the morning, the afternoon wore on us. Running out of candy didn’t help either.
I did manage to break out of the small hallway where our modest table draped with the ministry’s banner was parked. Alissa, a recent graduate of Johnson and Wales and our Providence go-to person for the day, and I carried some informational cards and took a stroll in the unusually warm weather hoping to run into students willing to hear us out. We encouraged each other instead and discussed our struggles with the Christian world of dating. While down, the topic of homosexuality arose and how each of our educational institutions handle it. At Johnson and Wales, where no religious affiliation or tie to a Christian code of conduct exists, people embracing homosexuality are rampant. Alissa explained how her church acknowledges the problem and when applicable helps those battling their attractions. In stark comparison, the issue is ignored back home unless administration finds out. Then you are sent to counseling. Not the best way to love on the struggling. Hearing a fresh perspective on that issue sent hope through my bones that the church is turning around, realizing that all sin is the same and all people should be welcomed and counseled through their daily struggle, even if that is feeling pulled toward people of the same sex. New England might just have something on the South.
Some demolition adventures will be on their way tomorrow…