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How you can pray for college students during unique pandemic challenges

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December 31, 2020

Imagine that the year you were born, the world changed forever. Terrorists decided to attack your country on the same day in multiple places in September of 2001. We know that this tragic event is real life. It changed how we lived, how we traveled, and how we view the world.

Now, fast forward 19 years. Your world has changed yet again. Your last year of high school is obliterated in the spring by a virus that no one fully understands. Fear of the unknown casts a shadow on your future, and life as you know it has changed once again. 2020 high school graduates had to finish up their high school year virtually, and some graduated virtually as well.

These same young people, and their parents, are still trying to figure out how to navigate college. They were forced to decide if they move on campus or if they attend their first year virtually. Some didn’t even have a choice. This poses a whole new set of challenges for students, parents, and also ministries that are focused on reaching this generation.

The importance of ministering to college students 

I have the privilege of working with both campus collegiate ministers and church-based collegiate ministers in my vocation. I have had the opportunity in the last month to be on calls with them and hear their hearts. These are some of the most creative people I have ever known. Many have shared innovative ways they are trying to reach out to new college students and disciple and lead those students returning to their ministries in the middle of a global pandemic.

Any collegiate minister will tell you how important ministry on campus is to the spiritual life of college students. Many of these ministers have testimonies of how their lives were captivated by Jesus in a Baptist Student Ministry on the campus of their school or spending time with a collegiate minister from a church near their campus.

In my role as a mission mobilizer for students, I have heard over and over by those who end up serving long term in a different cultural context and language that college is where they heard God’s call the clearest or experienced missions for the first time. In other words, college is a critical season in the life of students and ultimately the church.

In light of this information, I want to share some ways you can pray for these students, their parents, and the ministry leaders that want to desperately connect with them while they are college students.

Pray for the students that are entering college, whether in person or virtually, will find Christian community and invest their time and energy there. Pray for unbelieving students to find connections and friendships among those strong believing students in these ministries. More than anything, we want students who do not know Jesus to come to know him.

Pray for parents as they send their students to dorms, classrooms, or virtual learning options. This is a unique season for parents as they work through the best situation for their children. I am sure some fear or anxiety for their children’s safety and health is involved as they drop their students on campus.

Pray for campus ministries and church-based collegiate ministries. These unique times are calling for creativity and fluidity. I say fluidity and not flexibility because things are changing quickly with requirements and rules imposed by the university campuses on which they work.

Ask God to give these ministers endurance and encouragement as they seek to love and disciple young adults.

Pray for God to move among college students even with these challenges. We know that nothing is impossible with our great God (Luke 1:37). He will continue to draw students to himself, empower his people to share the gospel, and build his kingdom. We can trust him to display the light of his glory, even in the midst of such pandemic darkness. 

April Franklin

April Franklin is a student mobilization associate for the International Mission Board. Read More by this Author