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 “Why faith?” I heard some of my classmates ask towards the end of class. “Why not focus more on learning instead?”

I sat quietly in the corner of the room listening to the conversation between my classmates, and realized I had never really thought much about it before. Waynesburg University and faith had always gone hand-in-hand for me. It’s one of the many reasons I chose this school. But what is it that makes faith such an important element to a Christian campus like Waynesburg? That’s what my classmates wanted to know, and that was the question that kept drumming through my head for the rest of the day.

As my classmates began packing their things, quickly transitioning into various other conversations, I remained silent, thinking. Even as I exited the room, my thumbs hooked through the straps of my book bag, the question kept presenting itself to me. Why faith?

When I reflect back on my college career I remember weekly Chapel services, Sunday night student-led worship services, heart-to-hearts with professors—all things that have influenced my experience at Waynesburg. Everything I have learned throughout my four years here has somehow referenced back to my faith, causing me to grow in ways I never imagined I could.

So, why is faith so important? In my own words, this is what I came up with:

  • Faith is the foundation, not only to Waynesburg University, but also in many of our lives—it’s where things began. When we look back at our history, not only as a University, but also as a country, faith was the driving force that got us on our feet, something we proudly fought for and defended. With that foundation, even when the walls shake and crumble, there is always hope for restoration.
  • Faith is a source of joy, hope and love. I know how hard it is not to fall into the selfish, materialistic ways of society. What’s in it for me seems to be the mantra of the world today. Through my experience, this constant push to be perfect only leads to self-destruction, but when we focus our lives on faith instead, we realize just how perfect we are in God’s eyes. It’s not about what we wear, what we look like or how much money we have; it’s about finding ourselves lost in the beautiful, boundless love of Christ. Through faith, we can experience a joyful, hopeful, loving way of life, free of charge.
  • Faith pushes our boundaries. One of the things I have loved and hated most about my faith is that it challenges me to think beyond my reasoning and pushes me out of my comfort zone. Faith is not about being comfortable and it’s certainly not easy, but when we find ourselves wrapped up in it, the end result is nothing short of rewarding. When I find myself questioning anything, including my faith, I find myself learning. This is what makes the pairing of faith and learning together so endearing to me. A well-developed faith often comes through trial and error, much like learning a skill in the classroom. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t, but just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean the answer isn’t out there. Often times it takes patience and a willingness to accept things through a fresh set of eyes.
  • Faith gives us something to look forward to both today and in the future to come. When everything else seems to fall apart, faith is the crutch we are given to help us stand. God wants us to come to Him with our problems. He wants us to know that through Him all things are possible. With Him, nothing can tear us a part. Through our faith, we know God has promised us a future, even as we step into the unknown. This gives me the strength to get out of bed each morning despite my racing anxieties of what the future holds. For, I am a child of God.

 

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It's probably an understatement- and an overstated one in my posts, at that- that I really like it in Ireland. There is so much to like and it's an environment that has a lot that personally interests and excites me; the things I'm learning, the people I've met, the music, the culture, the history, the land. However, it hasn't been easy. It was a lot of work to get here in the first place, and when I got here, there was a lot I had to adjust to, but in a way I think that's probably better, and it has definitely helped me grow.

One of the hardest things for me was being on my own in a country where I knew absolutely no one. The people, both the other international students and the people from the University, as well as the locals I came into contact with, were all very nice, don't get me wrong. The thing is, I have never really been in a situation of this magnitude where I haven't had some sort of close-by support; emailing and messaging  people is great, but it's incredibly comforting to have someone physically there. At home I had friends and family, and even when I went to college freshman year, my roommate was a girl I was friends with from home. So for the most part, I've tended to have someone either with a stronger personality than mine who wasn't afraid to take the lead in new ventures, or at least someone who I knew would support me if I took that position.

Here, though, I had neither of those and had to fend for myself. If I wanted to go talk to someone, I had to make that step. If I wanted to go somewhere or do something, I had to do it, without someone to lead on and without someone as my backup. Not that I didn't make friends- I have several, and they have been such a blessing- but while we all do things together, we are all still having our own personal experiences. I also have to hold myself  completely accountable for my schedules, what I eat, when I do my schoolwork, the money I spend, etc. and I don't even have a roommate to tell me to turn the lights off and go to bed at a respectable hour.

It's been a little scary since I've always considered myself a pretty shy person, but I cannot express how gratifying it is to know you've personally reached for something you've wanted and were able to reap the benefits of that. And it really has been incredible. That's how I ended up here in the first place, that's how I made the new friends I have now, that's how I found the absolutely incredible church family I wasn't sure I'd have here, how I've seen new and wonderful things, tasted things I'd never even  heard of before,  and had all sorts of new experiences. If going away for college is a way to learn how to be independent, than studying abroad is that tenfold.

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In the mist of papers, final preparations and projects in the final weeks of class, here is your chance to blow off steam. Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) will be hosting a Communication Carnival on Thursday April 10, 2014 at 4 p.m. Students currently enrolled in a Department of Communication class or a student in the department are invited and encouraged to attend, along with faculty and staff of Waynesburg University.

PRSSA will host several fun activities and games set on the fourth floor of Buhl Hall. During the event, there will be a department wide girl vs. boys Pictionary game, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Early sign ups for the dueling game are located outside of room 408 on the fourth floor of Buhl Hall. Other activities for the evening include a casino room, mini-golf and corn hole.  Each game and activity will require a small donation upon participating. There will be prizes for winning participants, such as real live golf fish and candy. During the event there will be a professor pie-in-the-face competition, meaning the professor with the most donations in their jar will receive the lucky whipped cream pie smashed on their face. 50/50 raffle tickets will be available during the event, as well as carnival style popcorn and beverages provided upon a minimal donation.

All proceeds during the event will go solely to Waynesburg University PRSSA Chapter. Come on out and support your local PRSSA Chapter and Department of Communication, but most importantly have some fun!  As we head towards the end of the year, the Communication Carnival will be a great way to wrap up the spring semester. 

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Just as March quickly faded into April like the swatches on a color wheel, graduation has become less of a dream and more of a reality. Going to Waynesburg and earning my undergraduate degree has been my life for the last four years—a life I have looked forward to and a life that has shown me I can handle more than I thought. Change is on the horizon and the more I think about it, the more nervous I become.

“What’s next?” people ask.

“I’m not sure,” I respond in honesty. 

It’s no secret to those who know me that I am not someone who embraces change easily. I have the same morning routine no matter the day of the week; I’ve gone to the same church my entire life and lived in the same town; I’ve always done what’s comfortable.

I hear my classmates talk about their plans to go on to graduate school and then get their doctorates. I’m proud of them. Their plans sound so crisp and attractive, but are those same plans for me? 

I’ve sat in my classes trying to absorb everything I can, grasping at each and every word as if they are the last remnants of some sort of ancient colony. I’ve collected those words, organized them and placed them inside a clear glass case in hopes that, one day, I can help future generations learn from and admire them as I did. Even as I go back through everything I have stored in my memory bank, my mind wildly races: am I really ready for this?

Of course you are, God answers. Have I not gotten you this far?

My faith is a constant reminder to me of what’s in store for my future, even when I have no idea where my life is going. There is no question I’m entering a time of change. My life is going to be flipped inside out, washed, pressed and hung to dry, but one thing will always remain the same: the love my Savior has for me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.." Jeremiah 29: 11

This very verse has gotten me through my entire undergraduate career and is sure to get me through even more as I enter the new stages of my life. Even when the prospects of college, jobs, marriage, kids and a mortgage seemed like distant fairytales, God was preparing my heart for them, watching me transform into the person He wants me to be.

I know this journey is far from over, but with the things I have learned as a student at Waynesburg and in prayer, I also know I have the ability to harness my nerves so God can lead me to the place I’m meant to be.

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John 8:12: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

b2ap3_thumbnail_John-8-12.pngEvery time I walk outside in the evening and it is actually still light outside, I can’t help but be thankful. What a difference light makes! It is almost as good as the prophecy in Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!”

Tomorrow in chapel, we have the privilege of welcoming Johannes “Jannie” Swart, a professor World Mission and Evangelism at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is from South Africa and has lived through the darkest days of his home country. He has seen what a difference the light of Christ can make in the midst of the darkest hatred and broken relationships. And he has seen that light spread from his home country around the world to bring hope, peace and reconciliation in places where no human action could have accomplished. Only the Prince of Peace, who was willing to lay down his life for us, could bring that kind of light into this darkness.

What are the dark places in your life today? Are there places of doubt? Insecurity? Unforgiveness? Fear? Shame or Guilt? I pray that you would allow the light of Christ and the warmth of his love to fill your heart today and drive away all the darkness. And may the peace that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessings,

Rev Carolyn Poteet

 

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