[Damita Miller is a graduate student at Ball State. She did her undergraduate work at University of Florida. She took Ron Pickell’s course on Public Campus Ministry at Andrews University this summer. These are her reflections on the experience.]
I don’t usually enjoy blogging about my personal experience. But a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Campus Ministry course at Andrews University. Well, part of the Campus Ministry course. A few members of Adventist Campus Fellowship and I were invited to by Pastor Ron Pickell to attend for a few days.
I have to tell you. IT. WAS. AMAZING! It’s almost impossible to tell you all that we learned in that class; partly because even I was doing there learning about discipleship, creating and sustaining new disciples of Christ, I had to be excused for like a day to finish a paper that I had for one of my classes at own school. But while I was there in the class, Pastor Burns taught us things that I’ve never even considered.
When we baptize someone in Jesus’ name, our usual follow through with these newborn Christians resembles a mother who just gave birth to a baby and then left the woods with a bottle and box of diapers to fend for themselves. He told of this missionary who went to Papua New Guinea and baptized a large portion of the people in the village and then left. When he returned he found that there wasn’t one single member left. Why? Because he left these newborn Christians to fend for themselves in their community and he never explained to him the reason behind following God’s commands. In a world of animism, he never considered that people didn’t really understand the message that he was sharing and would see God a completely different light than the way he’d hoped to share God.
And this made me think. As Christians do we really consider what the person that we’re sharing the message with is going through or is thinking about? We share the word, but do we actually share the love and show expressions of that love? For example, for years I have struggled with deep loneliness and confusion because of family issues that I was dealing with. My father was abusive and manipulative to my family during most of my life and had stolen thousands of dollars from my mother and from my sister’s and mine’s college fund. He was subtly trying to turn me against my sister using his only expression of affection: money. It got to point when I just had to cut him out of my life for the sake of my family and my own mental and spiritual health. It was hard for me, but it was often made worse by people really not understanding what I was going through and how difficult it was for me do that. Actually this course was an unusual blessing for me.
During the Friday evening, Pastor Pickell invited a few us to his brother’s home for pizza. When we were there, Bro. Pickell shared with me some of his own personal experiences and this amazing book called, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”. In this book, the author shared his belief that as Christians we should not ignore things that happen from our past since they will ultimately affect their present and their future. The author’s own marriage was affected by his parents’ strained marriage that he witnessed growing up. When I shared my own experience, I was actually touched by his response. He didn’t condemn me or try to convince me to stay in an abusive relationship with my dad. He understood and for the first time ever I stopped feeling the guilt of not liking my father because of things that my father did and I began to start letting go of the grief and shame.
The whole weekend was like that. I was surrounded by people who understood the importance of sharing God’s love and sharing it on secular campuses. I got to meet some wonderful people who were on fire for God and for sharing His word. When it came to time for me and a few others of us to leave on Sunday and it was actually kind of sad. We’d only know each other for a few days but already we’d formed a bond that was very deep. Through the whole weekend, I felt so inspired by the Spirit that I just had to tweet almost every 5 minutes and write poetry.