Many years ago someone wrote a book about the 5 Love Languages and how to “speak” each other’s language. It was a fine book, but they failed to mention my favorite Love Language… FOOD! Ever since I was a young girl, I have baked and cooked for the people I love. I learned to bake banana bread for my family in 4th grade. In college, I would go home to do laundry during Sunday afternoons. While my laundry was running, I would make cookies or Rice Krispy bars for my friends back at school. In our Youth Ministry days, I told our teens that they could stop by our house any time and I would make them a snack. Several made it a habit to stop by after school for a cookie or popcorn. And on their birthdays, I would make my youth group girls a special batch of my famous strawberry lemonade, frozen in a zip lock with a bow on it. These are ways I showed love.
This last weekend we had our first “Leaders Retreat” at our house. We are in University ministry, and this last year we launched our first 4 groups on 4 campuses with 8 more in the works for 2013. So now that we have leaders, we need to train them. My husband did two days worth of teaching, training, and planning with our students. I made all the meals for them. I literally started prepping 3 days before the event. I made the base for a cold press coffee cooler drink that the students love. It takes 24 hours to brew. I made the menu and sent my husband to the store while I taught school during the day. Then when our car broke down, I walked to the store myself for the last few ingredients that needed to be purchased fresh.
In addition to preparing meals from scratch and washing dishes about 10 times a day, I taught a cookie baking workshop in my kitchen. I told them, “Food makes friends- especially hungry University students.” I have never seen a college kid turn down a home made cookie. I send them with my husband to his teaching seminars all around the country and they make him very popular. I send them as gifts to students when I hear that it’s their birthday. Now our students could invite others to their groups by passing out cookies and a flyer. Cookies open doors and iced coffee opens hearts. Food should definitely be considered a love language.
World Missions Summit
We have had an amazing opportunity this past week. Every couple of years we attend a World Missions Summit for University students. Students are given the chance to rub shoulders with missionaries from all around the world and to be inspired to consider serving overseas themselves. The theme is “Give a year, pray about a lifetime.” For me, it’s a real highlight of our job to be able to inspire and encourage Christian students to seek God’s will for their lives.
I love those “light bulb moments” when students catch the vision of missions when “I could never do that” turns into “I could do that”. Even just being more open to the possibility of being called by God is a huge step for some of these kids. Many of them have an idea of what they want to do with their lives, and laying down their dreams to be available to God is a scary thing.
I remember being in college and just having the end in my sights. I just wanted to be done, to finally be a grown-up and let real life begin. Of course, we did not have the kinds of opportunities that these kids had. Missions was something that youth groups did once in a while or professional missionaries did for their whole lives, but the idea of taking a year out of your life and serving overseas was not on my radar any more than joining the Peace Corps was an option for me. I just wanted to graduate and start life.
So for me, this is amazing that students would even be open to the idea of taking a year out of their lives and investing in something bigger than their career. For many of these kids, this decision could change the trajectory of their lives forever. Some of these kids will go out for a year, fully expecting the commitment to only consume one year, and find that God has another plan for their lives. Some of them will abandon their career plans and give themselves to becoming God’s hands and feet and voice of love to a hurting and broken world. This week could change kids’ lives.
Yes, this week also has the benefits of being like a family reunion for us missionaries (we have reconnected with so many beloved friends from all around the world!), but it’s really about the students. We have a window of opportunity in which to expose them to a bigger world and to inspire them to think less about themselves and more about the lost. We have this great chance to change the future. Dang, I love my job!
All those university students committing to give a year and pray about a lifetime.