April 2008 - Vol. 18

A group of university students enjoying a light moment during a UCO dormtroopers event. 


On the front lines of evangelism in a campus dormitory

By Ben Gilbert

How can I best serve the Lord and spread the message of Christ and his gospel? I began to ponder this question last year, in the middle of my freshmen year at the University of Michigan. It’s been the driving force in many of the decisions I’ve made as a university student. 

I got involved with University Christian Outreach (UCO) during my first semester at the University of Michigan. Almost immediately I was drawn to the strong calling of discipleship in the group – the call to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord and his will for our lives. Throughout my first semester, I asked the Lord to show me exactly how I could give myself more fully to him as a university student. His answer caught me by surprise, because he spoke into an area of my life I did not expect him to work in. He asked for my living situation so he could use it for his purposes. 

In the early winter of 2007, a fellow student asked if I would be interested in living in the dorms so we could do campus evangelism together. I was intrigued, especially since this was an idea that had never crossed my mind. I had assumed I would move out of the dorms after my freshman year, as most students do, and find another apartment with other Christians somewhere off campus. However, I did decide to lift this decision up to Christ. Where did he want me to live? His answer came quickly and resoundingly. He reminded me of how many students are in need his love and truth – and how much work there is to be done on this campus, and of how full of opportunity the dorms are. They are a wonderful place for outreach since they are filled with so many students living so close to one another.

Ben (far right) and his fellow roomate “dormtroopers” Dave and Brad spruce up their room for Christmas

So this year I am living in the dorms with two of my fellow “dormtroopers” as we now call ourselves. We have a triple suite together.  It is our hope that through our daily prayer and dorm activities we can share the gospel with those around us through our words and example. So far the year has been amazingly fruitful and life-giving for us. To support one another we agreed to participate in certain events. We have morning prayer for men three days a week, and on Friday mornings we have coed morning prayer in our suite.  My roommates and I also have lunch together once a week to discuss how our week is going, both spiritually and physically, and what we could use support in. Finally the dormtroopers also have dinner together once a week to spend time with one another and to encourage one another in Christ. 

Through the spiritual events – inviting students to join us for morning prayers, dinner with prayer together afterwards, and celebrating the Lord’s Day’s with an opening ceremony and meal on Saturday evenings – we are able to share our faith in Christ with so many others while also seeking to deepen our own relationships with one another and with the Lord. We also put on fun events that have included movie nights, men’s nights, a bowling night, and just hanging out playing different card and board games with people from the hall. I have been able to form some great friendships while sharing my faith in Christ with many of the guys that live on our hall and in our dorm.

Sarah Hughes, a “dormtrooper”  from a women's residence hall, 
prepares a Saturday evening dinner event for resident students

My roommates and I have been able to bring some of our dorm friends along to the UCO events and some have started coming to our regular UCO weekly prayer meetings. While others may not be interested at this time in coming to our UCO events or in pursuing more spiritual-oriented activities, we have nonetheless formed good friendships and opportunities to offer them personal support and encouragement to pursue faith in Christ. The experience of being in the dorms, on the “front lines” of evangelism, has been a life changing experience for me and my fellow “dormtroopers”. I continue to thank the Lord for calling me to this service for his kingdom. 

I keep going back to that question: How is it that I can best serve the Lord and spread the message of Christ and his gospel?  I believe the Lord has answered the question at least for now by calling me to live my faith openly and witness Christ to others in the dorms.  I was surprised at the call, it was an answer I did not expect, but in agreeing to follow the Lord I have been abundantly blessed and I truly believe his work is being accomplished.  I encourage everyone who wants to serve the Lord to not be afraid to ask this question and then to follow where the Lord leads. How can you serve the Lord and spread the message of Christ and his gospel? Ask him. You might be surprised by the answer. 
Ben Gilbert is completing his second undergraduate year at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, majoring in cell and molecular biology along with philosophy. In addition to his full-time studies, Ben is actively involved in student evangelism and music ministry with University Christian Outreach.

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