04 Oct Called to Care
Mamie Adams always went to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly. She went there to buy stamps just before Christmas one year and the lines were particularly long. Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait in line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby. “I know,” said Mamie, ‘but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.” Bits & Pieces, December, 1989, p. 2. Dear friends, this is what students expect from our graduates and staff in our fellowship. Saying hello and hi… and bye over mobile phones would not really help the students grow spiritually, but rather a personal chat would!
Caring can be defined as giving attention to the members of a family or of the other social/inner circles. It is essential to set a friendly environment among its members, and to ensure effectiveness and perseverance in tough times. Caring can be personal as well as spiritual. Spiritual caring shapes the lives, while personal caring shapes the living. If we fail to care we fail to shape the lives and the living of the individuals in our circles.
It was a small beginning, when Professor Enoch started to speak to the students. His primary concern was Evangelism with a spiritual experience of total surrender. But, the students were not convinced easily. Only a few of them became the disciples of God and stood for Him in various walks of their lives. These early groups of the students were characterized by vision, strong fellowship, mature spiritual concern for other students, and obedience to God. As a result of their deeply ingrained Biblical convictions, their number multiplied from a few – to many.
The purpose of parental caring is to encourage the students to sustain their faith in Jesus Christ. Caring is not pampering, but correcting and commending. It is to build the efficiency of the individuals in the expansion of the Kingdom of God.
4. Call for Caring
Graduates who wish to involve in the student ministry should have the assurance of God’s will, as David served his own generation by the will of God (Acts 13:36). One should become a friend, a companion and a counselor of the students. As Paul says, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (I Corinthians 11:11) graduate should set a good example in Christian life. One must win the confidence of the students, before one can be of any use to them.
5. Where to Care
5.1 Christian open Home
Christian Open Homes give an opportunity to the graduates to show the parental care and concern to the students. When graduates invite the students to their homes, and develop friendship with them, students can enjoy the real Christian atmosphere, which they lack in their homes. In the book of Acts, we find the models for this. Lydia, Aquila, Priscilla, and Lydia (Acts 16:15), the fellow workers of Paul, risk their lives for the sake of gospel (Rom 16:34).
Church is a place where all the believers come together to worship God. It is the perfect place to have fellowship with people, and encourage them to be strong in faith. Care and concern towards the new believers, encourages them to participate in the worship services.
6. What to Care
6.1 Spiritual needs: Students have deep spiritual needs. At times they fail to understand the scriptures and apply them in their day to day lives.
6.2 Loneliness: Loneliness is a silent killer. In loneliness, individuals do adopt to places and habits. It evaporates the creativity and spirituality of the individuals and leave them ineffective
6.3 Relational struggles: Being ignored in the family or in the work area/school/college will deprive the individuals of their self-confidence. They may not mingle with others and diverted their mind to worldly pleasures. It also could leave them in depression.
6.4 Sexual Temptations: Sexual temptations are quite common in the lives of the students. While the scriptures instruct them of the sexual purity, world around them tempt them to live in lust.
6.5 Financial Pressures: Finance is yet another constraint in the lives of the students. Many try to go along with the popular saying, ‘Money makes many things,’ and feel dejected when they don’t have some. They also may go for short cuts to gain money, failing to which they are depressed. Graduates need to make them ‘cut the coat according to the cloth.’ It works better than the financial supporting. Supporting would be great, but only with reference to the individuals.
7. How can we care
Students struggle with all the above pressures. Their discouragement, loneliness, personal emotional and relationship struggles, sexual temptations, financial pressures, wrong career guidance, health and many other problems can be dealt by setting a friendly environment, being in regular contact with the students, knowing their family and educational backgrounds, helping them overcome unnecessary fears about their future, and counseling.
Students need guidance in almost all areas of their lives. Caring is the only channel through which a student can be molded. It helps him/her to overcome all the obstacles and grow strong both mentally and spiritually. Caring encourages them to Godly righteous living, have a personal witness, and a missionary vision.
B. Prabhu Varakumar, Staff for Communication & Networking Department, is based in Chennai. Dr Sowmya and Prabhu are blessed with three sons, Sam, Isaac and Paul.