Why I Chose a Christian College


Jim Long shares his story about how giving his life to Christ changed everything, including what he was looking for in college.

Something remarkable happened to me halfway through my senior year of high school. You've heard of the domino theory? Something happens that sets in motion a chain reaction? That was my experience. I entered my senior year without really thinking much about the future. I was busy scanning the present, trying to make sense out of it. Like most people, I sometimes found life frustrating. But as the year unfolded, I began to think about the negatives a whole lot less. That's because I met a few people, just a few, who were truly different. Their lives weren't trouble-free. But they didn't let their problems make them bitter. They seemed to have a sense of purpose to their lives, which I admired. And I noticed these people had something else in common: They loved God, and they cared about me. Faced with authentic faith, I started paying closer attention. I began reading and asking questions, and somewhere in the middle of the year, I took Jesus seriously.

The dominoes began falling. Change swept through my life. I became more of a positive person, I put bitterness behind me, and I started to care more deeply about people other than myself. I woke up one day and realized I was on the other side of a chain reaction. I now fully believed, and I knew Jesus deserved my total commitment. That encounter changed almost everything about me, including what I was looking for in a college education. If God had a claim on my life, I wanted to use my energies to advance his purposes in the world. To do that, I reasoned, I would need to understand him better. I would need experience in ministry. I would need the foundation of a caring Christian community. I would need a Christian perspective on all my studies. By the end of my senior year of sweeping change, I had concluded that the best way to meet my new goals was by attending a Christian college. Here's what I was looking for—and what I found—in my Christian college experience:

In-depth Bible study

I was not raised as a Christian, but I had hung around the church enough to know that Moses broke the Ten Commandments in more ways than one; that David brought Goliath down with a slingshot, and himself with lust; that Thomas finally figured out that believing is seeing, not the other way around. But now that I felt captured by Jesus Christ, I felt captivated by Scripture. My interest was deep. I found it exciting that I could study the Bible at the same serious collegiate level as I would study sociology, psychology, history or science. I felt motivated. I took classes in personal evangelism, missions, theology and biblical studies. In high school, I had studied Spanish without much enthusiasm. Now I eagerly tackled New Testament Greek. It was my Christian college that opened up these educational opportunities I would not otherwise have had.

Incredible ministry opportunities

I began to see the world with different eyes. My Christian college put me in touch with opportunities to share my faith on the beach, in parks, on the streets of Los Angeles and Hollywood. I took weeklong missions trips to Mexico. I counseled at camps for underprivileged kids. I shared my faith at rescue missions. I taught Sunday school to kids not much younger than I was, and I directed a youth program. My Christian college education broadened my horizons. I heard about needs and opportunities worldwide. I met and talked with people who were making a difference all around the world.

A caring family of faith

As I mentioned, I was not raised as a Christian. In fact, we had some pretty significant struggles in my home. As much as I loved my mom, dad, brother and sister, I think it's interesting that God gave me the opportunity to broaden my family. In college, I met fellow students who became like brothers and sisters to me. I was introduced to a dimension of friendship I had not previously experienced. What was it? That we all understood a deeper purpose in life? That through faith we shared something in common that was beyond us all? That we were all beginning to understand love and acceptance in a way we hadn't before? Whatever it was, I found it in my Christian college experience. It was also during those years that I discovered the idea of a caring faculty was more than just an advertising gimmick. I wasn't close to all my profs; I could not honestly say I enjoyed every last one. But I did find several I thought of as friends. They prayed for me, and when they asked me how things were going, I knew they cared. They didn't reach out just because the catalog said they would.

A Bible-centered perspective

Christians view life from a different perspective. We study science, and we see the hand of a creating and sustaining God, not a random grouping of energy and matter. We trace the movements of history, not as a scene or disconnected circumstances, but with a sense of agenda, moving toward time's final destination in Christ. We examine sociology, psychology and politics knowing that God speaks to these areas of life. A Christian college education serves as a reference point for every subject, a context for every discipline. And to a large degree, that's what it was for me.

Equipped for Life

I entered college relatively new to faith, with my Christian ideas still developing and largely untested. But as I studied, my foundation became firmer. As I shared my faith, I learned to share it with both skeptics and seekers. As I related Scripture to all areas of study, I gained a view of the world that made sense. It provided the framework for a lifetime of further study. I entered college looking for friendship, and I found it in ways I had never before experienced. I was, in fact, embraced by something more than mere friendship; I found a deeper sense of family. I was pretty self-centered when I entered college, but I learned ways to break out of my selfishness to touch the world for Christ. In those years I came to see more clearly what life is all about—what it means to waste it, and what it can mean to redeem it through service. When I enrolled at that Christian college, I'd felt it was the result of sweeping changes that took place in my senior year of high school. I suppose I thought Christian college was the last of all those dominoes to fall—the last stage in a chain reaction of faith. I now know it was only the beginning. 

Written by Jim Long

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