A Gospel Start to the Academic Year

by Ryan Bower, Assistant Director of Public Relations

When the annual Fall Bible Conference started at Cedarville University, no one could have predicted that more than 100 students would make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, or that another 93 would respond to a call to enter full-time ministry.

But that’s exactly what happened following evening messages on Aug. 18 and 19, when God broke down walls and moved in the lives of college students.

God worked in ways only He can orchestrate. Seeing students’ lives changed for the gospel is the most encouraging aspect in life—especially on a college campus, where the next generation of leaders is being equipped both professionally and spiritually.

“We praise God that each of these students responded in faith, moving forward toward what they felt God wanted them to do,” said Cedarville University President Dr. Thomas White. “It was an amazing week, and we are praying that it is only the beginning of even more spiritual awakening.” 

Clayton King, founder of Clayton King Ministries and this year’s conference speaker, spoke to more than 3,400 students, faculty, and staff members during the course of four days. He shared the story of loss in his own life, including the deaths of his mother and father. He spoke about weakness and brokenness and how God uses those times as a way to worship Him, and as a way to heal.

“Hard times don’t make us happy,” King said early in the week. “They keep us humble and make us holy.”

Those words from King - and others that were sown during his series of powerful messages - fell on fertile ground. Ground that God used to change lives during the four-day conference.

“I sense a hunger on this campus,” said King. “I sense a spirit of hunger for the Word, of hunger for the presence of God, and a desire to know God and make Him known.”

After the student body was dismissed Tuesday evening, residents of Lawlor Hall formed their traditional ring around their parking lot, signing songs of praise and praying for those who had made decisions.

“While coming together in prayer and praise is something of a longstanding tradition, this year felt so different,” said Scott Stephens, resident director of Lawlor. “We were able to celebrate what the Holy Spirit had done just moments before. There was a great energy.”

The Spirit of God touched the life of freshman Megan Orr, who just arrived on campus a few days earlier from Crystal Lake, Ill. Her life hasn’t been the same.

Orr spent the summer preparing herself for a new chapter in life. New friends, new challenges and the beginning of her journey as a psychology major. She came to Cedarville University from a Christian home that faithfully attended church. But, by her own admission, something was missing in her life.

“I’d always been really plugged in with my church,” she said. “I always thought ‘I’m doing great, I’m doing ‘the God thing,’ but I never really understood it. I’d go to church camp or a youth retreat and be on fire for God, but it didn’t last.” Eventually, her attendance at church became sporadic and when the time came to choose a college, she wasn’t even ready to consider a Christian university.

“I was struggling with a lot of guilt,” she said. “I kept telling myself that I was a sinner and I didn’t belong in church. I didn’t even want to attend a Christian college, but my parents brought me for a visit and convinced me it would be good for me.”

But while sitting in the pew during King’s Tuesday evening message, Orr couldn’t help but feel that something was pulling her toward a decision about her faith. “I could feel that something big was going to happen,” she said. “As I listened to Clayton pray for us and ask us to pray along, I began to cry. I knew that I needed to trust in Jesus.”
 
After the service, Orr returned to her Printy Hall room. She began a frantic search through her Bible to find the exact words to pray.

That’s when senior Anna Prosise came alongside and explained that there wasn’t some ritualistic passage or process that Orr needed to go through; she simply had to ask Jesus to save her from sin.

For Orr, that moment was the culmination of something that had been building since she stepped foot on campus just four days earlier. She was on a college campus where the faculty, staff, and students welcomed her and pointed her towards Christ.

“It can be easy to take for granted the privilege we have to live in a community like this,” said Prosise. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us at Cedarville. Never again will we have the opportunity to be around this many believers who will challenge you, grow with you and support you.”

It’s evident that God is changing lives at Cedarville and nowhere is that more evident than in the Christ-centered community of students who live, learn and grow together.

Not lost on how God moved on campus during the Fall Bible Conference is the generosity of the students who gave $17,764 from the conference offerings to the Miami Valley Women’s Center. The Miami Valley Women’s Center is a nonprofit organization in suburban Dayton that educates men and women with parenting skills, assists women who are considering an abortion, and provides regular Bible training for their clients.
 
Make no mistake about it, God is moving in the hearts of students at Cedarville. White said, “we look forward to following up on each decision as we use their 1000 days on campus to intentionally guide them to a life that glorifies God.” 

“I’m beyond excited at what God is doing this year,” said Stephens. “You can already tell that God has something special in store for Cedarville this year. Something unique is happening, and it’s an exciting time to be here.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,620 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings.