Experiencing the love of God
From January 13th through the 16th, NDSU Chi Alpha members, along with neighboring Chi Alpha groups, traveled to Alexandria, Minnesota to attend the Great Plains North Chi Alpha SALT conference.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chi Alpha, it is a Christian community that builds fellowship through prayer, worship, discipleship, and mission on the campuses of universities across the nation.
At the SALT conference this weekend, students and staff from North Dakota and Minnesota came together to worship together, hear some amazing speakers, and pray for the transformation of our universities and world.
Every year, there is a new theme for the SALT conference, and this year’s was Transforming the University. Speakers and worship sessions focused on how we, as God’s sons and daughters, can transform ourselves, our universities, and the world by letting God work through us.
When asked what made her decide to return to the conference this year, Jesie Osier, an NDSU student who attended last year’s conference, answered, “Experiencing the presence of the Lord with so many people who love God and want to be with Him is so amazing.”
At sessions, we got to hear the good news of Jesus from a couple of people who showed us exactly what it looks like to love God.
Joe, who has been serving in ministry throughout Southeast Asia for the last 12 years with his wife and 3 sons, spoke at the opening session on Friday and both the Morning and Main Sessions on Saturday.
In his first sermon, he spoke on how we must be resurrected in Christ and become new; the second was about how as Christians we must be set apart from the world; and the third was the idea of arming ourselves with God’s love.
On Sunday, Chi Alpha’s National Director, Scott Martin, preached at the Morning Session, telling us about the way God changed his life at the age of 18, and how He can do the same for us as long as we surrender our own will and desires to Him.
Scott’s challenge to university students was, “Every student goes, every student gives, every student prays, every student welcomes.”
Lastly, on Sunday night at the final worship session, Stephen Glasser of Northview Church gave us a word on how God is the only way. He talked about how every day God invites us to join Him on the greatest adventure of all time: seeking Him.
The greatest lesson we can learn is that God is with everyone everywhere and He has only love for us.
On Saturday and Sunday, attendees had the option to attend multiple breakout sessions. The two sessions I attended were Jesus and Suicide: Having an Honest Conversation and They Don’t Serve Breakfast in Hell.
Jesus and Suicide: Having an Honest Conversation was hosted by Ryan Kockelman and focused on the difficulty Christians have when it comes to talking about suicide and how the teachings many of us have heard on suicide in the Bible may have been unhelpful at best and flat out wrong at worst.
Savanna Bader, another student who attended this breakout session, explained, “After the Jesus and Suicide workshop, I felt a sense of relief knowing I’m now more prepared to help others with their mental health. This time spent addressing suicide let me know that we as Christians need to start learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
They Don’t Serve Breakfast in Hell was presented by Josiah Negron. This session was a biblical theology of Hell according to Jesus in the Gospel and the New Testament writers. We learned about what hell is, who goes to hell, and what God thinks about people going to hell.
Coralie Schwartwalter, an NDSU Chi Alpha member, said, “Something I really enjoyed was how Josiah came to that session with tons of scripture and biblical history to teach us about. He was not trying to persuade us to think one way or another. I love that Chi Alpha is a group of Christians from all sorts of backgrounds and denominations, but the heart is about being Jesus people, not converting people to a specific denomination.”
Throughout the conference, attendees had the opportunity to learn about God and His works through not only worship and breakout sessions but also the gift of providing for others.
Great Plains North Chi Alpha came together with Venture and Feed One to donate their time and money to provide for those less fortunate and in need of God’s word.
On Saturday, SALT attendees came together to each run a mile for Venture, an organization that focuses on addressing human trafficking, refugee crises, and extreme poverty through rescue, food security, education, discipleship, women’s empowerment, and agribusiness. A total of 450 students attended which will provide 15 months of care at a safe house in Nepal to girls rescued from trafficking.
If you are interested in tracking your miles for the betterment of the world, take a look at venture.org for more information.
On Sunday night, Feed One by Convoy of Hope, a program that works to fight hunger and poverty with nutritious food and opportunities for children in need partnered with Great Plains North Chi Alpha to raise money for the cause.
Just this weekend, $79,548.48 total was raised for Feed One. To put that into perspective, just $120 can feed a single child for an entire year, so that means that with the amount of money that was raised, 662 children will have access to an entire year’s worth of meals.
If you would like to contribute to the cause, make sure to visit feedone.com.
When asked how it felt to make an impact on the world through these acts of love, Amy Klain, an NDSU freshman, replied, “I felt a wave of emotion come upon me because of the difference we were making. We take so much for granted that millions do not have. As Christians, we are called to love others, and this is the perfect way to love on others by showing them God’s love through us.”
Through SALT bringing together so many people for good, students also had the opportunity to create bonds with other Christians. Regan Jones, another NDSU freshman said, “I had the chance to meet so many new people from other universities that shared my love for Jesus.”
The last and most memorable events that took place in God’s presence were the water baptisms. Students were asked to give a word that described their lives before Christ and a word for after they met God. A few of the words that people thought of from their lives before God saved them were broken, alone, and scared; and the words describing after they found God were whole, loved, and fearless. Many tears were shed and the experience was absolutely beautiful.
The Great Plains North Chi Alpha SALT conference was truly filled with God’s presence. Students and staff were brought together to experience something transformative and emotional along with having the opportunity to get to know more followers of Christ.
If you are ever contemplating following God or are intrigued by what His love can look like, I highly encourage you to join us at Chi Alpha. There are services every Thursday at 8 PM in the Anishinaabe Theater at the Memorial Union. Jesus loves every single one of you and is the only way to true fulfillment.