Ruth McGee entered her sorority house to the sound of sobbing late one night. She noticed one of her sorority sisters hunched on the floor as she walked down the hall.
“What’s wrong?” Ruth asked.
Through tears, the sorority sister told Ruth she had been mistreated earlier that evening.
“I’ll sit with you until your roommate gets home,” Ruth said.
But when the girl’s roommate returned, her response was less than sympathetic.
“Oh, that’s the way the world is,” she said. “So just move on.”
Ruth looked back to her tearful friend.
“It’s okay to feel sad.”
Ruth is one of a few Christians in her sorority at the University of California at Berkeley (Cal). What started as an outlet for her to talk about her faith and make friends has actually shown Ruth what Christians can learn from sororities.
Ruth had been a Christian before coming to college and was involved in a small group and with her church. But she was nervous when entering Cal. Berkeley has a reputation among Christians, which suggests God is not present. The campus culture promotes openness to all different religions and Berkeley’s rigorous academic standards and scientific mindset can often dismiss Christianity.
“In classes, I come up against stereotypes of Christians almost every day – that Christians are ignorant and that they are close-minded,” Ruth said.
Ruth decided to join a sorority as a way to make friends and be involved at college. She pictured that the sorority would be a place for her to build relationships and to live out her faith.
“I see it as a place of friendship, community and other things I have come to learn and really love,” she said.
For those outside the Greek life, they can stereotype sororities and fraternities as a place for partying and keeping up appearances. Many Christians stay away because of this. But Ruth imagined that if Jesus were to go to this campus, He would join the Greek system.
“In the gospels, Jesus surprised people by those he associated with,” Ruth said. “If He were to come here, He would surprise people by coming to those who are hurting and those who are engaged in a life of this world.”
In the Greek system, students can attempt to find happiness in being social and portraying themselves as a certain type of person.
“I have encountered people late at night, everyone’s gone and they are by themselves, faced with ‘where does my happiness come from?’” she said.
Ruth feels a burden for her sorority sisters don’t know Christ. She says her heart is to show them how He sticks with her through it all.
But it wasn’t that easy.
She faces stereotypes toward Christians constantly. “You aren’t fun and you don’t do these things with us that we love to do.” “You might be judgmental so I can’t trust you, since you might think you are better than me.”
Ruth desires to love her sorority sisters and build deep relationships that show she is different from the stereotypes. Then she wants to tell them about her belief in Jesus.
“Once they have seen that I am normal. That I can be trusted and won’t be judgmental. That I’ve made my own mistakes and my own experiences, I feel like that is when that barrier can be broken.” Ruth said.
What the Sorority Taught Ruth
Joining a sorority helped Ruth’s faith to solidify. She finds it is impossible to be in the middle anymore and needs to live life differently. She sees that the Christians there who choose to follow Him are “all in.” But what she didn’t expect was how much Christians can learn from sorority life.
Ruth has learned about the philanthropic side of her sorority. For example, she helps her friend, Sarah, teach a class titled Human Trafficking Prevention Education. The point of the class is that people from different majors enroll and, after graduating from Berkeley, go on to be leaders in society with this knowledge of human trafficking, which will help tackle the problem. This is not a faith-based class, but a lot of speakers happen to be Christian.
Ruth tells the girls in her sorority about this class and talks come up at dinner. Their interest begins to grow as she tells them about human trafficking in their own city, Oakland. She has seen at least 5 women from her sorority take the class, with their hearts breaking for other people with true empathy and compassion.
The sorority life of living under one roof, eating all your meals together, and seeing everyone at their best and at their worst allows no way for anyone to completely have their guard up all of the time.
“The acceptance and support in this house is unlike anything I have seen in any other community,” says Ruth. “Studying late at night, seeing people do dumb things, you laugh with them and connect in a way that is deeper than friends you can make in your class or on the street.”
3. Acknowledging people made in God’s image
The servant’s heart in every person that lives at her sorority is a reminder to Ruth of Jesus. The love they have for each other is another reminder. Ruth sees God’s care in people who have not trusted Christ. She feels excitement when she walks around campus seeing research and exploration of God’s world being done there. And her sorority sisters are a part of that innovation.
Ruth understands she cannot do anything through her own strength and that Christ can do things through her. She also regularly meets with other Christians who are involved in other sororities and fraternities, which encourages Ruth to continue to serve her Greek community. She recognizes that this isn’t just her work in the sorority, but God has called her and is equipping her to do this work.
Some questions to consider:
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