Noah Rinehart is a Campus Assistant through Washington University in St. Louis.
In Fall 2019, I was starting my second year of the RUF Internship at Washington University in St. Louis. The ministry was growing, and our staff was encouraged and excited. But we didn’t realize that God might be growing this ministry even beyond the campus of WashU. It was exactly four years ago this month that a freshman at Saint Louis University (SLU) named Peter sent us an email to see if he could get a ride over to WashU for RUF Large Group.
I had never heard of SLU.
Fast forward to this month. Over 100 students showed up at the Student Center for free Chick-fil-a nuggets. About 70 stayed for worship. About 50 of those were students I’d never seen before. Most of them stayed to mingle when we finished worship. (And, in a fun bookend, Peter led worship alongside his wife Hannah).
God is clearly doing a new thing at SLU.
In Christ Alone
As soon as we finished worship, a freshman girl came up to the front of the room. She excitedly asked if I could go back a slide on the PowerPoint, to the lyrics of “In Christ Alone.” I did, and she took a picture with her phone.
“When I came in, and I realized there was singing, I started praying that we would sing ‘In Christ Alone,’ because it is my favorite. And then it was the last song we did!”
I started talking to this student. She is Kenyan, and this is her first time in the United States. She’s been here less than two weeks. I asked how freshman year was so far, and she said, “I have really, really been missing home. I don’t know any other Kenyans here. But I am really glad I found this!!” I told her, “If you’re free on Friday, you should come to Freshmen Bible study at 2.” She nodded excitedly, and with a smile on her face, said, “Yes, definitely!!” I am looking forward to seeing her again in a few hours.
A lot of beautiful things happened on Wednesday. Several non-believers heard the gospel of grace, maybe for the first time. Student leaders stepped up and created a welcoming environment. Freshmen Christians made connections with older Christians. From what I know, this was the first time ever that an RUF Large Group happened on a Roman Catholic campus (“You’re taking Geneva to Rome,” one of my seminary professors quipped this week). But whatever else is true, God used Wednesday night to remind a lonely freshman girl in a very new place that He sees her, He’s with her, and He loves her dearly. That alone made all the work that went into Wednesday worth it.
Let’s give thanks to God that He does unexpected things, that He uses us in ways we don’t anticipate.