I met Katie Story, like many people do, on the UGA freshmen Facebook page. I posted in the group to find a roommate once I decided on Georgia. Although I was skeptical and nervous, Katie and I found each other. We seemed similar enough, but our uniting factor was our faith.
We quickly (maybe too quickly) decided to room together and met for coffee. We were both nervous, Katie was dropping things, I was stuttering, and I think we were more concerned with trying to appear as normal as possible rather than getting to know one another. Despite our encounter, we stuck with each other.
Enter Cat Jessup and Grace Jenkins
I got a text from Katie one day suggesting two girls she found as possible suite mates: Cat and Grace. Katie knew Cat from her home church, and they all three knew each other from FCA camp. However, none of them really knew each other on a level deep enough to enter our unexpected rooming situation. Little did we know, we wouldn’t quite have the suite-style living we imagined.
Housing selection day arrived, and I had the first timeslot. I would be in charge of registering all four of us (no pressure). We quickly found out the only sweet-style dorms near the center of campus were taken. That’s when I found it: the 24×11, four-person, former study-room we now call our shoebox. They agreed on the room (not really knowing exactly what they were agreeing to).
I was just getting off work when move-in day arrived, so the three of them moved in the day before me. As our arms were full and our nerves were heavy, my family and I walked up the stairs to the room I would call home for the next year. They made signs and were playing music to welcome me, and all the nerves were relieved… well, almost.
I had met Katie for coffee once, I was with Grace at orientation for a total of maybe an hour and I hadn’t even met Cat yet. Although they seemed nice, I realized how little we all really knew each other.
When maybe one week passed by, we realized we were assuming too many things we didn’t know. Actually, we knew nothing about each other besides surface-level qualities. So, we got out a tub of cookie dough and sat down on our rug. We were going to share our testimonies.
When everything changed
Four spoons, four girls, one tub of cookie dough and a fuzzy carpet. We each didn’t quite know where to start, so we just shared it all. All the things we try to cover up or pretend didn’t happen or aren’t true about ourselves were finally shared. Our stories were all very different, but there was a common theme: we were all broken people who had imperfect lives and made mistaken decisions. But, our stories don’t end there.
Somewhere along our life story, God captivated each of us with His glory, His grace and His son. Our faith didn’t mean we lived perfect lives or didn’t make mistakes, but it did mean the Lord convicted us and filled us with a desire to make much of Him and less of ourselves.
It started with vulnerability
Our vulnerability, openness and honesty was the groundwork for our relationship, but our unity was found in Christ. We are pursuing vastly different careers, but we all desire to glorify God in whatever career path we choose. We study the Bible in different ways, but we all aspire to know God’s Word and His will better than we did yesterday. We have different personalities, but we all seek to love others and share the Gospel with them.
Although we are different, our constant prayer is for God to radically change the hearts of a campus whose majority is pursuing anything other than Him and His will. We might get discouraged, but a prayer-filled community is guaranteed to be a few feet away.
Olivia Nail and our rug
One day, Olivia (or Liv) came into our room and our lives and never seemed to leave. Liv sat on the same fuzzy rug where we first shared our testimonies and turned it into the location of many tear-filled conversations, laughs and deep discussions.
Now, all five of us head to church, ministries, libraries, and just about everything together. We built friendships that feel like they have been there for years, a level of honestly and loyalty I had never experienced, and a community firmly rooted in Christ.
I never could have expected such a Christ-centered community my first semester in college, but God has a way of providing in unexpected ways. However, it doesn’t end with us. God’s provisions aren’t for us to keep to ourselves.
God’s radical intentions
Cat and I are reading David Platt’s book, Radical, and we are learning “God has shown [us] great grace in order that he might use [us] to accomplish the glorious, global, God-exalting purpose that has been primary since the beginning of time” (82). God hasn’t given us a great community for us to keep it all to ourselves. He gives us resources and displays His greatness in order that we might make much of Him at home and abroad.
We must try to live radically for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever context we find ourselves. It doesn’t matter our age or the fact that we are students. God’s mission and purpose doesn’t limit itself to a generation or circumstance: it is multi-generational, all-encompassing and all-important. He has a way of using the most unlikely people to bring even more glory to Himself, and this is our purpose.
Let’s see how far we’ve come
We have finished one out of eight semesters at UGA, and we have gone from being full of nerves to laughter, worries to prayers, anxiety to support and reservations to vulnerability. My prayer for the rest of our time here at UGA is that we wouldn’t be limited by our age or status, but that we would utilize the blessings God has given us in order to accomplish the global, God-exalting purpose we were created for.
Let’s go far.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).