Faithful Together Despite Campus Closures
Closed campuses don’t stop students from preparing together to live faithfully this semester.
Students across the country are in the midst of discovering what it is like to be a university student without stepping foot on campus. Classes continue but apologies for knocking everyone in row ‘H’ with your backpack while shuffling to an empty seat in the lecture hall you got lost finding, are a relic of other days. Perhaps, more grievous, many students wonder if university community is possible in an era of social distancing.
InterVarsity students know the answer. Determined, they are in the thick of creative, pandemic-time community. The kick-off to the semester for many in Ontario began the last week of August when over 100 staff, students and alumni gathered for a Zoom conference called Daniel: A New Hope. Over four of the final days of summer, an eager group dove into the book of Daniel, discovering themes of faithfulness in exile, repentance, hope, justice and the kingdom of God.
As the icon squares popped up, screens became a mosaic of excited waves and smiles. Hot soup from a post-summer-job dinner steamed up a webcam, while a cat ran across another student’s couch. The chat flurried with “Heyyy!!!” and “So good to see you!”
Later, in appreciation of finally being together, one student remarked, “Oh man, I miss singing and worshipping with others in Church so much.” The sentiment was much shared, expressed via emojis and smiles of gratitude transcending cyberspace.
During the conference, one of the teachers, Matt Lindo, South Western Ontario Staff Director, remarked that when faced with crisis, Daniel responded with prayer, courage and peace. In the scripture, Daniel and his friends are exiled from their homes and taken into captivity in Babylon. They grieve the loss of their families, routines, mother tongue and even their own names. However, when put to the test, they refuse to grieve the loss of their God. They separate themselves from the sin of the culture encompassing them and remain faithful in trying circumstances.
After a long season away from Christian community at university, connecting over zoom was a breath of fresh air for both long-time friends and newcomers longing for comrades in faith and encouragement from scripture’s timeless truths. Small groups were filled with testimonies and stories of honest struggles, laughter and prayer.
Students may not be crowding into living rooms for Bible studies and potlucks. Cookie-sharing is perhaps at an unfortunate all-time low. However, at Daniel: A New Hope it was clear that students are continuing to show up to follow Jesus faithfully together and will continue to do so no matter what comes.