When I was a freshman, I lived on campus. Okay, technically everyone is supposed to live on campus their freshman year. But when I say live on-campus I mean eat, sleep, watch TV, hang out and do homework all on-campus. Students, like me, tend to get stuck in the ACU bubble and forget that there is an entirely different demographic outside of our little campus. Toward the end of my freshman year though, I became involved with something that has changed the way I selfishly viewed my life.
A group of friends and myself are part of a unique Wednesday evening church activity. The local church’s campus ministry employs us as Christian ambassadors to a low-income, government-funded apartment complex. Each week, we walk up to the housing and are greeted by a mob of shrieking children.
“Aaaaaaaah! You are here! It’s about time,” some of them say. They grab the bucket of toys we bring each week, excitedly tear off the lid, and the games begin.
During our time with the kids, so much is revealed. While the kids are lively and fun, sweet and loving, the innocence of a child does not glisten in some of their eyes. Some of these kids live hard, troubled lives. Some of these kids witness things I have never seen in my 21 years of life. When I notice this, the childhood stolen by trauma or neglect or hunger, I wonder if the weekly visits are making any sort of positive impact. After all, jumping rope or throwing a frisbee will not fill their hungry stomachs or meet their family’s financial needs.
As I’ve reflected and wondered on what we could do to make this time together worth their while, I come to realize that maybe we are helping out, in a very small way. Most of the children living in the complex face adult issues. Our bucket of toys provides them a weekly time to play and have fun, a time to regain childhood lost.
Meeting and creating relationships with these kids has been one of the most enriching pieces of my college experience. Although we are not able to fully help the families living in the apartments, we can help them in a small way and hope to make a big impact.
So why is it important to get out in the “real world” to try to make a difference? Our lives are not our own. We are called by Christ to serve others, to be witnesses to them for Him. I hope to continue to push myself to enrich my life by enriching others’ lives first.