“Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.” PSALM 110:3
Huddled together beneath a haystack to keep dry in the sudden spring rain shower, Samuel Mills and four young men’s hearts raced as they discussed the great task before them: the evangelization of the “heathen world.” Sheer belief and whispered prayers sparked the greatest surge in foreign missions the world has ever seen. The refrain: “We can do this, if we will.”
Out of this famed “Haystack Prayer Meeting” more than 100 years ago, God raised up the Student Volunteer Movement out of the Western church. Over 20,000 college students and young professionals abandoned their pursuit of the “American Dream” and, ignited by the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the gospel in foreign lands. Trading in promises of lucrative careers, powerful influence, and comfortable lives, these men and women were not motivated by earthly pleasures and human accolades, but wanted instead to wholeheartedly commit themselves to the fame of Jesus.
Throughout history, Western college campuses have been seedbeds for prayer, revival, and missionary activity. From John Wesley’s Holy Club at Oxford University to the Student Volunteer Movement, to the Jesus Movement, college students have been a powerful force for spiritual renewal in America and the nations of the earth. History will continue to be made on our college campuses as students respond wholeheartedly to the gospel.
Despite the rich history of God’s activity on college campuses, the youth of our nation are in spiritual crisis. Several studies reveal church engagement among college and high school students is dramatically decreasing, as students espouse moralistic, therapeutic deism rather than biblical faith. But we know that God still has a plan and purpose for the youth of America and the West. Behind the waning church attendance and alarming statistics are flesh-and-blood people with passion and destiny. Young adults may be dissatisfied with religious rhetoric and programs, but they are also growing more and more disillusioned with the “American Dream.” They long for greater purpose and influence to impact their generation and change the world. The ground is fertile for change.
In college campuses and local congregations, there are glimmers of hope as young men and women are convicted in the place of prayer and emboldened to volunteer themselves (Psalm 110:3) to help finish the great task before us. We believe this is just the beginning. May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering in our generation.
Pray for college students to be motivated by the worth of Jesus to give their lives for His glory. Pray for missionaries to be sent from the campuses of America to the nations of the earth. Pray that God would touch the student groups that seem the ‘hardest’ and ‘darkest’ on campus.