Friday, January 30, 2009

A Little Snippet for Greek Conference

I've been working this week on writing up a summary of my ministry experiences in Tri Delta for my friend Goodie, who is the Greek IV staffworker at U of R, to use in her talk at Greek Conference next weekend. It was such a neat exercise in recalling God's faithfulness over a four-year period that I thought I'd share it here.

I first learned about Greek Conference when I was in high school. A college youth leader (who is now my boss), told me about his amazing weekend with hundreds of Greek Christians in Indianapolis. “We stayed up all night and played worship music and prayed for our brothers,” he said excitedly. I knew right then that Greek ministry was something I wanted to be a part of.

So a month or so before I pledged Tri Delta, I met with Will (Richmond’s Greek staff at the time) to find out more about Greek IV. His words of sage Greek ministry wisdom? “Just rage at the lodges with your sisters, and go to beach week and live it up with them.” That seemed like strange advice to this sheltered church girl—rage at the lodges?! I was talking about Greek ministry, as in leading Bible studies, sharing my testimony, and inviting sisters to Greek conference. But Will’s advice turned out to be far wiser than I knew then. In hindsight, I can see that God had a much bigger plan for my sorority experience than reading the Bible with a group of sisters one night a week. I had a lot to learn.

There were certainly times when Greek ministry looked as I had expected it would: Ten or twelve girls—most of whom I was pretty sure didn’t know the Lord—showing up for Bible study on a Tuesday night. Four other Tri Delts attending Greek conference. A random sister asking me questions about my faith. But more frequently, ministry in Tri Delta looked a little more like Will had described: having the confidence to go out with my sisters when I knew I’d be the only one not drinking. Serving my chapter in offices that demanded more of my time and heart than I sometimes felt I had to give. Sharing a house at beach week with 20 wild pledge sisters and putting a few of them to bed at the end of each night. Spending hard earned babysitting money to go on spring break with girls I barely knew. And all of that just in my sophomore year!!

Junior year came and I studied abroad in Italy, giving me the opportunity to travel with sisters who were also abroad. We bonded over shared adventures, excitement over going back to Richmond, and the growing poundage taking up residence around our waists from basically eating our way through Europe. During the spring semester, I threw myself back into chapter life, holding a demanding office and trying to start up Bible study once again. I felt closer to my sisters than ever, only no one came to Bible study.

Most of the girls who had come the year before had graduated. Gone were the days of sisters meeting to share struggles, questions, and prayer requests. No longer was I seeing real transformation take place before my very eyes. I had sensed God so at work through that group sophomore year, and had even—quite unexpectedly—made one of my best friends and spiritual confidants. Now it was hard to see whether God was working at felt pretty lonely at times. In the midst of that discouragement, I learned to seize opportunities to get to know my sisters and be a part of their lives: Showing up at intramurals. Volunteering to do not-so-glamorous jobs. Studying with sisters or grabbing a quick meal with them during the week. Making 45 grilled cheeses for late night snacks at beach week. Embracing and just really LOVING Tri Delta.

By senior year, Tri Delt was my home on campus and my pledge sisters were some of my very best friends. Instead of struggling to find ways to be involved and to serve my sisters, now I had to really push myself to be bold in my witness, to refrain from gossiping, to be set apart without being judgmental. It’s tricky business, this being in the world but not of it!

One of my favorite stories of a time when—by God’s grace—I did share boldly, goes like this: A pledge sister I often bond with over our mutual love of baking in the sun had called to see if I would lay out with her on the Westhampton lawn. We rallied a few other girls for a lazy Friday afternoon. Only for me, it wasn’t so lazy because I had to outline a youth Bible study on the book of Judges for my summer internship at a church. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to hang out with sisters, but up against a deadline on the study, I lugged my massive study Bible (actually, I think it was Goodie’s Bible that I had borrowed!) and an equally huge commentary out to the lawn. I guess I looked pretty conspicuous, because within minutes, an exchange student from the UK whom we didn’t know was quizzing me about my beliefs. As I shared with him my reasons for trusting in Christ, my pledge sister, a self-proclaimed atheist, piped up and said, “You should listen to this girl; God works in her life!” She then recalled for this random guy (and our other pledge sisters who were hanging out) numerous situations in which I had waited on the Lord, and He had worked mightily in my life. I was blown away!

This is what so thrills me about the Christian life—that God is so very kind to let us in on His working in the world. Jesus calls himself the light of the world in John 8:12, but in Matthew 5:14 he says that WE are the light of the world! Best of all, He lets us partner with Him in being light while we are still such a mess! I am humbled and amazed that even in the midst of my pride, my fear, my selfish ambition, and my indifference, God called me to a dark place and said, “Here. You be the light.” But I like the way Eugene Peterson puts it in his paraphrase, The Message: “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our very ordinary lives” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

A few months removed from college life, I hope that my sisters notice the sweet Message contained in the clay pot of my very ordinary life. When we G-chat during the workday, meet up for homecoming (or the let’s-pretend-we’re-still-in-college spring break trip we’d like to take), send out e-mail chains about the latest Richmond Tri Delta news, visit each other in various cities, etc., I hope that Christ’s brightness is impossible to miss! I’m trusting that Greek ministry is STILL taking place, even though I’m far away from my sisters. Because you see, it’s really not just about a Bible study, but about raging on the dance floor with your sisters (or brothers), a way of life that blazes through the darkness.


Kevin said...

Great testimony Chels. Your writing is exceptional.

Chelsea said...
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