The Lifelines ministry started more than 10 years ago as a grass roots effort to better connect with non-believers using the vehicle of the outdoors. Using adventures like whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and backpacking, Lifelines has taken the Gospel into hard-to-reach sectors of the campus, including the LGBTA, Free Thinkers, Unitarian Universalists, ROTC, International, Greeks, and sports teams.
The last decade has been a refining process, taking the ministry through different growth phases. In recent months, Lifelines has relocated to become more accessible to students and staff across the country. Lifelines Resource Teams are forming in the Greater Northwest (Bend, OR), Northeast (Plymouth, NH), and Great Plains (Boulder, CO). These teams will serve the Campus Ministry by offering adventures that assist Missional Teams in launching new movements and providing development opportunities for staff. The goal is changed lives through gospel experiences amidst the backdrop of God’s creation.
I recently asked an involved non-believer, Matt, to write down what Lifelines has meant to him. The following quote from Matt helps show the fruit that God is bearing through the work of the Lifelines ministry.
College for me had a rocky start. I found myself seeking hollow relationships, founded on convenience and filled with parties and drinking. This isn’t to say I didn’t find real friends or meaningful experiences; however, I lost myself. When I finally came back to school this past August I knew that I didn’t like the person I had become, or the choices I had made. But I didn’t know how to change. I didn’t know who I wanted to be, much less how I would get there.
My friend Jessie invited me to do a rappelling trip with Lifelines. I should let you know now that I hate heights but I loved Jessie and I also loved conquering my fears. So I went. I won’t go into detail, but that trip - going over the edge of that cliff - forced me to rely on someone other than myself. It forced me to rely on God.
That trip was the first time that I really had to contemplate my faith, and that was a hundred times scarier than any cliff. I didn’t have the same relationship that this group had with Jesus. I didn’t think I could.
So for the first time in my life I sat down and started to read the Bible with the help of a Lifelines staff. They say the first step in every journey is always the hardest. Well, Lifelines helped me take my first step.
If you had asked me what my plans were last semester, I would have told you I was transferring. Now I have my place at UVA. You see, meeting this group, meeting Lifelines, has introduced me to a new world. The Christian community here can only be described with one word: love. These are the kinds of people who never meet you once. You are never just a familiar face or a simple acquaintance. From the first time you meet, you are a friend.
I still haven’t figured out my faith 100% and I am still making that leap. However, I have found a community that will hold me up, even if I fall. Who will love me and who will show me every day, through their actions and words, what it means to be a Christian and what it means to have a relationship with Christ. It’s a beautiful thing to witness, and it’s an even more beautiful thing to be a part of.
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