“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
College is often viewed as the time to go, be on you own, and “find yourself.” But the problem is, this mindset breeds selfishness. It encourages us to find our identity in the world instead of claiming the identity Christ has given us in Him.
I’d be lying if I acted like I really understood this going into college. I knew I wanted Christ to come to college with me, but I didn’t have a clear picture of how this would look. So, my freshman year was a little bit like “information overload.” I didn’t really want to commit to any one path, because what if I chose the wrong one? “I did not want to mess up God’s plan.”
But God is in control of His plan, and I am powerless over that plan, soooooo right before my sophomore year, God used a friend to tell me about CURE. I went on CURE’s website and watched a video about a little girl named Joy. The top of her head was twice its normal size, and her father didn’t know what to do. He took her to a witch doctor that convinced him someone had put a spell on Joy. The witch doctor “treated” Joy by slaughtering a chicken and covering her with its blood—a very traumatic experience for a young girl. Time passed, Joy’s head continued to grow, and she stopped walking, and she stopped talking. In desperation, her father took her to a CURE hospital. There, the doctors found that she had hydrocephalous—a fatal condition in which fluid builds on the brain. The CURE staff prayed with Joy and her father to put their trust in the Lord. The doctors performed surgery, and within days, Joy could speak again. Her father described the joy he felt each day knowing she was not cursed. God loved her, and she was cured.
I couldn’t stop watching videos of these children whose lives were transformed, and I wanted to be a part of this kind of love. So, I said “yes” to advocating for CURE kids, and I worked alongside friends to build CURE Clemson.
Then, last summer, Clemson gave me the opportunity to go to the CURE hospital in Zambia and experience the love and dependence on the Lord that these videos could never do justice. There, I saw God. I saw God in the hands of neurosurgeon Dr. Kachinga Sichizya who prayed and sang worship songs over Francis as he operated and healed him of hydrocephalous. I saw God in the eyes of Philemon who tried to walk on feet that were turned inward and upside down, and I saw Philemon come out of surgery with a smile and feet that were straight. During a village outreach, I saw God in Maria’s face as she accepted Christ for the first time, and I felt God in Pride as she curled up in my lap and fell asleep, wearing the same outfit I’d seen her in all week and one single shoe. And God was beautiful.
Then, I came home. I saw children in nice dresses and I saw paved roads and fancy showers, and it was hard to comprehend the contrasting conditions of my world in Clemson and the world I saw in Zambia. I was overwhelmed with questions of how to transform my busy college world into God’s will for my life. I was scared I wouldn’t see God in Clemson as clearly as I had in Zambia.
But God was in Clemson, too. I saw God in my friend’s passion, as she would care for people with special needs. I saw God in the laughter of a friend, who makes you feel funny no matter how dumb you sounded, and I saw Him in a friend’s heart, as she never fails to put others before herself. I saw God in the tears of a professor as he talked about giving up a lucrative business because of his love for teaching and underprivileged kids. And I saw God in the humility of CURE Clemson students that decided to live for a purpose greater than themselves. I saw God in the eyes and heart of each person that took interest in joining CURE’s mission, and despite my own mistakes, I saw God use CURE Clemson to bring healing to outcasts. And I could go on and on. I’ve realized that if you’re looking for God, you find Him.
Going into college, I knew I wanted Jesus to come with me. And when I thought of taking Him with me, I thought Jesus would be there to support me, I thought He would be there to comfort me, and I thought Jesus would protect me. And, though not according to my own plan, Jesus has done these things. But, as my world collided with CURE, and as I saw people giving up comforts in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I knew that Jesus didn’t come to college with me simply to be there for me. Jesus came to show me the beauty of living for Him. Jesus showed me that, while the Bible grants us peace, the Bible does call us to action. In his book Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne points out that Jesus rose His friend Lazarus from the dead only for Lazarus to die later on. He chose to feed the five thousand even though they would become hungry a few days later. Jesus healed so many people knowing that they would die from another disease later on in life. Jesus performed these great miracles, in order to display His great love. And Jesus sent us His Spirit so that His great love can live on in each of us! Mother Teresa used to say, “We can do no great things, just small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.”
I love CURE, because Jesus has drawn me closer to Him through CURE. He has shown me that He has already given me His identity, and He is in control. It is my prayer that, together, we pursue Jesus’s favorite people (“the least of these”) with His great love.
Mary Katharine Thorne