March 21st 2014 1 comment so far
I didn’t know it at the time, but before I began my freshman year at Baylor University, I was lost. I thought I knew what it meant to be a follower of Christ—after all, I had gone to church every Sunday, participated in youth group, read my Bible, and volunteered regularly. The truth is I hadn’t even scratched the surface.
Before fall of my senior year in high school, Baylor wasn’t even on my radar. Several of my friends mentioned it was their first choice so I decided to look into it. I was intrigued by the small classes, community atmosphere, and Christian environment. If I’m being honest, I decided to apply because the application was free and didn’t require yet another essay about my ideal college roommate. Even then, I wasn’t seriously considering Baylor. God had other plans. Once I picked my majors, the choice was obvious—Texas A&M didn’t have a journalism major, and University of Texas at Austin had government and journalism in different schools, making it difficult to double major. When my scholarship money came in and I realized that Baylor would also be the most affordable option, my decision was basically made for me.
My first few months were a struggle—I quickly realized that, before Baylor, I had rarely discussed my faith. Sure, I would answer when my public school classmates would ask specific questions about my denomination, but we didn’t dig deep. At Baylor, I instantly knew that I had completely stepped out of my comfort zone, but I was thirsty.
On the first day of Welcome Week, my Welcome Week Group ran into Dr. Tom Hanks, an incredible professor who would go on to be influential in my journey. After exchanging pleasantries, he quickly changed the conversation to a theological nature, asking us questions that had never crossed my mind. Those questions completely drew me in, and I wanted to learn more.
I ran into Dr. Hanks at Common Grounds, a Baylor coffee shop, the following week and told him I was still thinking about that theological discussion. He invited me to Coffee & Conversation, a weekly meeting with him and a group of students where we discussed a specific topic each week focused on current events or other topics that mattered to us as Baylor students. Those meetings changed my life. Previously, I had preferred to listen to others discuss topics related to faith and rarely voiced my opinion, but Dr. Hanks was intent on making us all participate. I never knew when I would be called on to share my thoughts. His favorite way to guide the conversation was, “Sometimes, when I have a question, I like to ask…Olga.” At first, I was practically shaking with anticipation, hoping he wouldn’t call on me. This quickly changed. Though we all came from different backgrounds, this group made me comfortable. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t wait to share my views.
Coffee & Conversation wasn’t the only place that I began to grow in my faith. On the first night that I met my future husband, he was giving our Welcome Week Group a ride to an event, and we were discussing our views on baptism. Chapel, my religion classes, and coffee breaks with my new friends all led to my growth. Many of my freshman classmates and I were experiencing the same struggle—were our beliefs ours, or did they stem completely from our parents? Were we comfortable sharing our testimony with others? What does it mean to be good Christians? Coming from a public school background, Baylor was the first place I attended where these discussions were part of everyday life, and it was exactly what I needed as I was becoming a full-fledged adult.
My four years at Baylor challenged me to understand what it meant to be a follower of Christ. When people used to ask me why I chose Baylor, I told them that I didn’t, Baylor chose me. Now I say that God knew that I needed to grow in my faith, and Baylor was exactly what I needed. I was lost, but at Baylor, I was found.
This blog post was inspired by an article I recently read by David Ubben about the Baylor basketball team. (Click here to read it) God is at work at Baylor. Sic ‘em Bears!
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