Religious groups bring faith to campus, connect students

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During Respond, a weekly meeting for St. Paul’s Outreach, Missionary Samuel Schlangen bows his head and sings. Samuel Schlangen’s purpose for being a part of St. Paul’s Outreach is to build community and help people discover their faith. Photo by Kenna Swihart, The Campus Ledger

Pete Loganbill

Features editor

ploganbi@jccc.edu

Angela Tsang, former student and Intervarsity campus staff member, sits at the top of stairs by the food court, the entrance of COM 2. Dozens of students don’t seem to notice her as they book it to lunch or class. She doesn’t mind, although she’s ready to make a friend or share her faith with whomever is willing.

After a few minutes of smiling and saying “hi,” someone stops at the Intervarsity table.

“First, they’re like, ‘oh, hi I’m this,’ and I’m like, ‘oh, hi I’m Angela. I’m not a student here, I work as a staff,’” Tsang said. “Either, one they’re really intrigued and they’re like, ‘oh, what does that mean, and what do you do?’ and I usually say, ‘well, the best way to experience this is if you’re willing to come to one of our groups.’ Or it’s, if I’m telling them to stop, ‘oh, you’re one of those people … you’re one of those marketers trying to get me in.’”

As a member of Intervarsity, Tsang works to share Christ on the campus, equip Christian students to do the same, and provide a place for those who are curious or have questions to get know a Christian community.

While she still sees the steady impact of the group, Tsang recalls seeing many conversions when she was a student at the college. She saw such an effect when an Intervarsity conference impacted a student she knew. The student had a Catholic background, and gone to a Christian church, but had never felt close to God.

“She said that, after one of the main sessions ‘now, I don’t care what people believe. I felt the presence of God. I felt these arms just embracing me. It was real,’” Tsang said. “That was her first start of saying, ‘I’m going to commit to following Jesus and continuing what he has for me and accepting him as the Lord for my life.’”

St. Paul’s Outreach, a Catholic campus ministry group, also works to build community and spread their faith, although not through sitting at a table.

Jacinta King, student, said the group does a wide range of activities throughout the week, including their weeking meeting called “Respond,” during which they will listen to a speaker, share what is going on in their lives, and sing together.

“We have ‘Respond,’” King said. “We have a prayer meeting from time to time and then we’ll just hang out from time to time. Then, we’ll just have fun stuff, go bowling or whatever.”

King is sometimes surprised by the effect of the ministry.

“I always think of it as something specific, but actually it’s pretty well-liked,” King said. “I would say that it has an impact on people by the friendships that they make here. It helps people kind of discover more what they want to do, because sometimes we ask questions, bigger questions about later on in life [and it] helps people think a little more seriously.”

Similar to the other groups, the Muslim Student Association existed to bring people together and answer questions about their faith. However, the group dissolved after their long-time president left.

“Their goal [was] to build relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim students and to teach people about some of the basics of Islam,” said student Ahmed Boukhousse, a former member of the MSA. “A lot of people are curious to know about Islam, especially nowadays. There was a student from Pakistan, she was the President of the club for a few semesters, and she’s gone. I tried to get the club resolved, but I did not find too many students who are interested. Also, I had to make a little change in my schedule, so I had to give up that idea.”

While the MSA had its own setbacks, Boukhousse’s personal opinion is that students are generally losing interest in religion.

“It’s a very sensitive topic, honestly,” Boukhousse said. “I have a feeling that a lot of people don’t see religion as important as many other topics. I might be wrong, I hope I’m wrong.”

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