Written by: Susie Richardson, Cru Senior Writer
“Most of us don’t listen with an intent to understand but with an intent to reply.” -Stephen Covey
Avowed atheists on stage at Cru’s Winter (Epicenter) Conference. Say what??
You heard right … definitely a new twist on our decades-old tradition, gathering Cru students over the winter break to help them grow in their faith. Cru staff member Doug Pollock, author of God Space, demonstrated his message of “listening people into God’s Kingdom” as he interacted with self-described atheists, Paul and Adam. Raised in church-going homes, both young men left the faith during their military service, having developed some well-articulated reasons for their decision. Adam, Dartmouth ‘15, joked to the several hundred-strong Cru crowd, “I feel like Daniel in the lambs’ den.”
One of the Cru crowd, Deanna, a Brandeis junior, began to see similarities between these two guys (skeptics) and a friend from home. “Kathy and I were fairly close--co-captains of the cross country team and running half marathons together. She was so smart, I was afraid to bring up our obvious differences in beliefs.” Pollack’s presentation, however, motivated Deanna to see if “God space” could be created in her relationship with Kathy.
“I called Kathy to catch up a bit, and then told her about Epicenter and the interview with Paul and Adam.” Repeating one of Doug’s questions, Deanna asked Kathy,”If you could give one piece of advice to me as a Christian on how NOT to share my faith, what would you say?”
That simple question led to a lengthy disclosure of Kathy’s experiences, things Deanna had never known or suspected during their 5 year friendship. “I tried to just listen as she spoke and ask good ‘I wonder ...’ questions,” (another of Pollock’s suggestions). “I began to grab hold of the truth of 1 John 4:18, ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.’”
It would appear progress is being made, ‘listening Kathy into the Kingdom.’ Back at their respective Boston campuses, after the two girls spent some time together one evening, Deanna made ready to leave for Cru’s CityWide meeting, prompting Kathy to ask, “Are those the people that actually teach you how to talk about faith the right way?” Deanna sums up this ongoing aspect of her Epicenter experience: “I learned that if we aren’t afraid to just listen to people and try to meet them where they are rather than talk at them about where we think they should be, they are far more likely to experience God’s love and power through us, His servants, and His Holy Spirit.”
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