On your mark! Get set! Go! I’ve heard the saying that Christianity is a race that needs to be won. One thing that I’ve never liked about this image of Christianity is that it’s a lonely one, where Christians are all in their own lanes, relying on the training they’ve done and hoping it’s enough.
Growing up my Christian circle had always been small; my parents are missionaries, and we’ve planted a church here in Montreal. Three years ago, I never really asked any questions or tried to get deeper in the faith. I had a mindset that, because my parents have faith, it will just transfer over to me without me doing anything.
That all changed when my parents asked if I had really accepted Christ into my life. I was speechless. I’ve said the “I confess I am a sinner and Jesus is saviour” prayer over and over and yet I couldn’t give them an answer. That’s when I felt God calling me to go deeper with Him.
A Fresh Start at Dawson
Three years ago, I got accepted into Dawson College, my second-choice school. I ended up paying the school fees, and the next day I received an acceptance letter from Vanier. I wanted to go, but it was too late. I went to Google trying to search for any reason not to go to Dawson but instead I found that Dawson had a Christian fellowship. I was hooked. One of the first things I did at Dawson was sign up to be a part of the fellowship. I thought that, finally, I could be a part of a Christian community, have a space to freely ask questions and explore the answers with other people who have the same questions.
During my first year I went to one bible study, a prayer meeting and an event called Victory Night. Victory Night occurred at the end of the semester and it was an event to reflect on how God had been there for us during that past semester. With every interaction, I felt welcome. There were always snacks, and the executives even helped me navigate the campus. It was everything I thought it would be and yet I pulled away.
I pulled away from the fellowship because of something I couldn’t forget about my program orientation. At my orientation, the president of the student union at the time encouraged us to
take part in the activities hosted by the union, by different clubs and various departments within the school. The president then told us that by the end of our time at Dawson, if we got involved, it would be possible to make up to 1,000 friends and connections. I was shocked by that claim. How can someone get to know up to 1,000 people in the span of 2-3 years? But I was determined to find out.
Every event that I could participate in, I did, in a volunteer capacity. Volunteering involved helping to organize the event, set up, media promotion, tabling, animating a specific activity during the event and helping with the take down of the event. Taking part of the community in this capacity was really rewarding.
The Fear of Missing Out
My first semester I was volunteering at a Christmas event and I was put in charge of the karaoke machine. Cookies were the incentive to sing a song. For awhile no one would come participate in the activity and I couldn’t figure out why. One of the coordinators of the event suggested that I sing a song. My first thought was, “No. I don’t have a great voice and this would be in front of random people.” I don’t exactly remember how it happened, but I ended up singing more than one song. As I was singing, more people began to line up for the activity. That’s when I learned that if I don’t want to take part in an activity, I couldn’t expect other people to take part.
I fell in love with the idea of helping people join in activities that would add to their college experience one way or the other. I then tried to be at every event at Dawson and soon developed FOMO (fear of missing out). I was afraid that I’d miss out on the opportunity to help people join in an activity that would add to their college experience.
My fear started off as a good thing; I wanted to serve my Dawson community. But at times, I did it to the detriment of my health. During my second semester, I had eight classes, I was running the school’s union election by myself and attempting to still be part of as many school activities as I could. It was a nightmare. I had my first ever panic attack. It felt like the walls were closing in and I couldn’t breathe. Luckily, I was having it during my break, so I ran outside and took some deep breaths.
After a couple of minutes, the attack passed, but I started breaking down. I remembered Psalm 23:4: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Even though it wasn’t a “valley of the shadow of death,” I remembered that God was with me. So I kept on going after that, holding on to that verse.
At the end of the semester, I was so tired that I decided I would stop volunteering and try to focus on myself and get back in rhythm with God. As I was making this decision in the hallway, I was approached by a member of the leadership team of the InterVarsity fellowship and I was asked if I wanted to join the leadership team. I said yes and never looked back.
A New Kind of Involvement
Being a part of the leadership team with InterVarsity involved leading a Bible study, something I had never done before. I learnt new ways of studying the Bible like the inductive Bible study method. This method encourages those reading the Bible to observe the text, ask questions about it, interpret it and identify how the text could be applied to their day-to-day life.
As I was preparing for Bible studies, I was learning more and more about God’s love and how Jesus demonstrated it in every part of his ministry. Another role that came with being part of the leadership team was having to plan and execute events in order to grow in numbers, serve our school community and bring people closer to Christ.
My favorite event that I got to run was at the beginning of my second year and was called “Bae-goals.” I woke up early in the morning to get bagels and cream cheese and offered them to students. The students were shocked and asked, “Is this free?” I had to make a sign to let people know it was. The event was a huge success, the fellowship got to be promoted, the people who came to eat a bagel come to our Bible study and prayer meeting. I even got to run the event again at the beginning of my final year at Dawson. These events allowed me to feel like I was inviting people to add to their college experience, just like I felt volunteering at my first Christmas event.
An Active Community
While fulfilling my leadership duties with InterVarsity, I continued to volunteer in other areas of the school, but it wasn’t the same as my second semester when I was alone. By being part of InterVarsity, I had people who were checking up with me every week. I was an active part of a community of people who supported me and called me out when I was putting too much on my plate. My Christian life was no longer a race I was running by myself; it became a relay. I was part of a team of people pushing each other to go deeper in faith so we could cross the finish line together. God didn’t create humans to go through life alone, so we shouldn’t try to run the race alone. Join the team, be part of InterVarsity on your campus.
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Eveshore Omogbai is a recent graduate of Dawson College, where she studied General Social Science and was on the executive team for InterVarsity. In her spare time, Eveshore loves to volunteer, read, watch movies and journal. She is about to start a double major–one in Human Relations and the other in Anthropology–at Concordia University in Montreal.