As I write this blog post, our younger daughter has just landed in South Asia as part of the College Ministry SENT initiative program called City Project. This is NOT my first “parent-of-a-City-Project-student” rodeo. Three years ago, our older daughter was visiting South Asia in the same program. I cannot think of a more thorough “hands-on” discipleship opportunity that further grows disciples of Christ and equips them to “make disciples who make disciples.” Both daughters sensed a prompting from the Holy Spirit to apply and participate in the program, and I want to encourage you to be open if and when college students in your life feel similarly led. Towards that end, allow me to share some City Project parent observations with you.
From a Parent’s Perspective
Our older daughter began attending Mercy Hill four years ago, making the forty-minute drive from her Elon University dorm every Sunday. Mercy Hill had been recommended to her by a friend from our Ohio church who was a student at High Point University. We were thrilled that she found such a solid gospel-centered church home in NC. It was comforting to me as a mama of a college student who was an eight hour drive away from home.
When she informed us of her plans to apply for City Project three years ago, we were so proud of her decision, but if I am being completely honest here, I was more than a little uncomfortable about her traveling to a less developed country in Asia. We had traveled extensively as a family, but this was different, and it felt scary to me. Thankfully, the LORD grew ME just as he was growing HER! That summer, our daughter learned AMAZING truths that saturated her soul and changed the trajectory of her life. Because of City Project, our daughter desired to pursue Christ more authentically, learning that her worth was found in him only, not in what her resume shows. She was reminded of the grace that saves her, and as a result, she was more interested in sharing that grace to everyone around her. She realized how very close and present God was to her as she was SO far out of her comfort zone during the many aspects of City Project. God stretched her and grew her; he made himself known to her in new ways. God does not call us to be comfortable, and as she was being reminded of that, I was being reminded of that as well.
As a family, we moved to the Triad in August of 2017 to be closer to aging parents, and Mercy Hill became our new church home. We had attended MH when visiting our older daughter over the last four years. We saw firsthand how the college ministry grew our daughter and how the gospel focus at Mercy Hill changed her and countless others! Our younger daughter was watching this, too.
Our younger daughter is a student at Samford University in Alabama. Like her older sister, she had a number of options for the summer after her first year of college. Again, my husband and I were delighted when she told us she was applying for City Project, and this time around, we better understood how thorough the program was in making the students ready for the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19-20)
A Challenge from One Parent to Another
So, parents, I challenge you to put YOUR dreams for your college-aged children on hold for a summer or two and see where God takes them AND YOU through them. God wants to grow your student as much as he wants to grow you. We take very seriously the call to be our children’s primary faith trainers, but are we getting in the way of God’s best for them when we (secretly or not so secretly) hope that they pursue a particular job at all costs? We raise our children to release them—they really are not ours to begin with. I ask you, as I have asked myself, do you want your college-aged young adults to leverage their life for the gospel more than you want them to land their (or your) dream job? How can we best encourage them to pursue a life with gospel-centered purpose? The answer for our family has been a lot of prayer, discussions, modeling, and discipling—and a whole lot of grace that ultimately has led them to City Project. And for this, I give God ALL the glory.
-Anne Swanson (Mercy Hill Member)
Photograph above by Amanda Castle Photography.