Chris’s phone pinged. It was Madelyn. She was trying to find him amongst the sea of college students. He laughed. It shouldn’t be too hard to pick out the only senior citizen in the plaza.
His metal chair grated against the concrete as he pushed it back and stood to be more visible. After the hundreds of students he’d met with over the years, he was a little nervous about this one. She seemed a bit . . . well, prickly.
Finally, a girl walked towards him. “Was I right or was I right?” he thought. Her blue hair stood up in spikes and her jacket was covered in political buttons that glared in the sun. Just from this angle he could read she/her/hers, love is love, and out is in.
“Madelyn! So nice to meet you,” he exclaimed. And he meant it. He shook her hand. “You know, we talk to a lot of people through Instagram these days, but I always like getting to meet in person. I’m glad you reached out.”
“Yeah, it’s nice to meet you too,” she said causally.
They sat down to talk for a few hours. Madelyn did most of the talking. Chris got the sense she needed to talk, so he decided not to challenge her yet. She shared passionately about the social projects she was committed to — being a good person and defending the weak. She prided herself in being a social justice warrior. That’s what church had meant for her in the past. It was a place she went to participate in service projects.
She was so emphatic, Chris wasn’t sure how to even engage her in conversation. Clearly, she didn’t know Jesus. She saw Him only as a platform for her personal causes. Eventually, Chris asked if she would be willing to read the Bible with him. God would have to challenge her Himself.
They started with the story of the Prodigal Son. As he began reading, Madelyn interrupted, “Oh! I love this story!” Surprised but pleased, Chris continued, asking her probing questions about the story’s meaning. After some time, they parted ways. An interesting conversation, but no revelations.
The God We Can Trust
Later that week, Chris stood in the Bluefields Café — a 20th century parsonage that had been renovated to house ministries like Campus Ambassadors. The old house was squished full of eager young people, and their excited voices filled the room as they laughed and ate. Scanning the faces, he was surprised to recognize Madelyn packed in with the other students. She’d given no indication she was coming. Not only had she shown up, but she had brought two friends with her as well.
Apparently, something had intrigued her.
It wasn’t long before she asked to meet for coffee again. This time, Chris was ready to be a little more challenging. He saw her approaching. “Madelyn!” He gestured for her to sit. “I have something to share with you.” He opened a gospel tract and started explaining God’s creation, the fall, and the redemption offered by Jesus.
She started getting agitated. “There’s no point to this. Nobody can know if they’re going to heaven or hell.”
Chris leaned forward, “Why do you say that?”
“I just think no one can know how God will judge us,” she retorted with folded arms.
“Madelyn,” Chris said gently, “This is a God you can trust. We don’t worship a God that is waiting to pull the rug out from under us. You don’t have work so hard to achieve something. Forgiveness was always meant to be gifted, meant to be received.” And right then and there, Madelyn’s defenses broke. She wanted that God who was good and safe. She wanted the God who would rule with justice and have mercy on our broken world. She wanted the real Jesus.
She prayed in repentance and accepted God’s forgiveness.
Chris was shocked. He hadn’t doubted the power of God, but this happened so fast. In a matter of days her entire belief system had changed. The person that looked least reachable to him had never been out of God’s reach.
Now, only a few months later, Madelyn has become a powerful force in Campus Ambassadors. Bold and committed, she continues to bring friends into the community she herself only just joined. Pray for God’s blessing on her spiritual journey.
Madelyn’s story has already been an answer to prayer. This year, Chris had felt convicted to pray for leaders at the State University of New York Oneota Campus. As he goes about his regular ministry of evangelism and mentorship, he has been faithfully asking God to equip young people to impact their peers with the truth of Christ. When he first saw Madelyn’s blue hair and fierce expression, she looked like an opposition to that mission. Little did he know, she was already a part of God’s faithful answer to his prayer.
Chris himself was introduced to Christ by a Campus Ambassador when he was in college. He’s worked in college ministry for nearly fifty years and understands the challenges students face in secular higher education. If you’d like to support Missions Door campus missionaries like Chris, you can do so at his page.