September 2010 - Vol. 42

Sarah in front of her dorm at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

.The Lord is Working: 

Reflections of a Student Missionary

By Sarah Hughes

For the past four years of my life, I have been involved with University Christian Outreach (UCO) while a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This past May, I finally reached graduation, bringing an end to challenging years of study accompanied by even more challenging student evangelistic work on the battle ground of the university campus. As I neared the end – finishing the last assignment, packing up my dorm room for the last time, and getting ready to graduate and leave Ann Arbor – I found myself in a place I have often been in the past four years: bone weary, exhausted, and tempted to despair. In my exhaustion, the Lord prompted me to turn to him in prayer, looking back at the past four years to consider the work that he has done during my time as a student missionary. In weariness, I questioned the Lord – has it been worth it? Has there been meaning and purpose to justify the sacrifice and the pouring out of self? 

As I prayerfully looked back down the years, names and faces flooded my memory. I remembered those who had been close to me, whose lives and tears and laughter I had shared, and who I had seen make difficult decisions day after day to follow the Lord. I have been so blessed to share community with other Christian missionaries in UCO who repeatedly encouraged and inspired me. I remember also those I have reached out to, whose lives I have touched or just barely brushed, trying to leave some fragrance of the Lord and his love and life. While living in the dorms and attending classes, I have had the privilege of speaking about the Lord with many fellow students and friends who were hungry for truth and who needed to know the Lord’s life.

Sarah with UCO friends at Kairos Winter Conference

I remembered also that my time in university was not easy what with the demand of classes, the pressure to achieve, the difficulty of evangelistic relationships, and the constant busyness of an overflowing schedule that left me often overwhelmed. But when I look back, only one thing really seems to matter anymore: because of the way I lived my life as a student missionary, did people, bright and hungry individuals, come to a deeper knowledge of the love and life of our Lord Jesus Christ? Did the course of peoples’ lives change as they moved towards a deeper truth? Now that I have finished university, this is the only thing I really care about, the only thing that makes the sacrifice worthwhile. 

Members of UCO Chapter at University of Michgan

With joy and gratitude and humility in my heart, I think I can say that the Lord brought life out of the humble offering I made of my university years. He was at work as I sought to live as a missionary and to preach his truth in my dorm, in my classes, and in trying to give him every bit of my time and energy. Looking back and thinking about the many individuals I have shared the past four years with, I am deeply blessed in knowing that these years have not been in vain. It has been worth it all to see these others draw closer to Christ and experience his life and love. 

Sarah and dorm friends dress up for UCO theme party

Now that I have graduated, I will be working once again with student missionaries, serving on staff for a UCO chapter in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In my despairing moments, when I look at the weariness and difficulties of the past four years of missionary work, sometimes this future looks bleak – more sacrifice, more nights with little sleep, more pouring out of self and setting aside personal desires. But looking forward, the Lord reminds me of all that he has done and all that he will continue to do if I give myself as a missionary ready to proclaim his word. I can only pray for the strength to believe and to trust that my next years of service will be worth the sacrifice once again. I know that there will be abundance and rich reward in seeing lives come to know him, for there is nothing sweeter in this life. 

My part in the battle as a student missionary has been glorious – our King is a mighty warrior and a bold conqueror. He has brought us to victory, and he is bringing us into more victory. I leave my years as a student, then, not in despair, but in confidence, ready to follow my commander wherever the fighting is thickest, wherever the battle rages, if only the offering of my life might play a part in furthering his kingdom. 

Lead on, oh Lord! Unsheathing our swords, we arm ourselves with your truth. Burn in our hearts, enflame our minds. The battle is now – we’re here to fight.
- from "Lead On O Lord" song by Jonathan Touhill.
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