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For a few Mondays in a row at the beginning of the semester, I sat with friends over dinner dreaming about what God could do at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, praying for Him to lead us, tossing around ideas and plans, hammering out concrete details.
“We want to reach out to the new students on campus,” one person said.
“I want to have a place where we talk together about how to share our faith on campus,” suggested another.
“I think it’s important that we do something where we can bring friends and let them get to know Christians in a natural setting,” said a third.
I sat there listening to them wide-eyed with a huge grin spreading across my face. Because all of those ideas came from students.
I don’t think it will ever get old to watch students catch the vision for seeing their classmates and peers reached with the gospel and step up to own the movement.
Fast forward to when classes began at the universities across Berlin. The new semester brought about 30,000 new students to Berlin from across Germany and around the world.
At Humboldt, we tried to greet as many of those students as we could with a warm smile, a friendly conversation, and a flyer in their hand so that they could find us again. One of my favorite ways we did that was through an outreach we called “Ein Muffin für deine Meinung” (a muffin for your opinion).
We set up a large chalkboard outside one main university building and asked students for their answers to a new question every day in exchange for a homemade muffin. One day’s question was “Who is Jesus to you?” They answered everything from ‘no one’ or ‘a charismatic historical person’ to ‘a friend’ and ‘God’s son.’ At least 200 students participated (that’s great for our campus!) and hundreds more took notice of us.
We were thrilled by the positive response of so many students, but I think the biggest highlight for me was watching our believing students own the outreach with us. Dozens of times, I overheard students enthusiastically invite their classmates to come check out the board, consider the question, give an answer. They smiled brightly even at the people who laughed at them, listened with genuine curiosity to those who participated, and bravely identified themselves as followers of Jesus. That sure sounds like the beginnings of a movement to me.
Though it seems like you’re lowest on the totem pole, you’ve actually got an advantage. Decisions you start this year will shape your future years in college still to come. With this in mind, here are some things that I wish I had known as a first-semester student.
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