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"The Rock On Campus" -- Spiritual Care for Community College Students (The 'best kept secret' no more!)
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By Laurel Hardgrove volunteer and Rev. Francois

The statistics suggest that between 61% and 80% of Christian students will walk away from their faith before the age of 29. And typically, this happens while studying at our post secondary colleges and universities.

Encountering students--connecting with them where they are; engaging students by connecting them with faith and fellowship; pointing students to Christ by encouraging them to plant in a local church--are the focus of "The Rock on Campus."

Students meet several times a week at "The Rock on Campus" on the Fanshawe College, St. Clair College and Lambton College campuses. These students are surprisingly hungry for scripture, and most want to know how faith matters in their lives. Chaplains at each campus lead student discussions on how the Bible pertains to everyday life. Many students are at a crossroads in their lives--decisions to be made about schooling, career, finances, and relationships. The Chaplains from "The Rock on Campus" have been connecting with students who are on the verge of suicide; connecting with students who are recovering alcoholics; connecting with students who want to leave the life of recreational sex in search of something more meaningful; connecting with students trying to decide if the faith of their parents will become their very own.

Janine, a student at Fanshawe College, is grateful that "The Rock on Campus" was a safe place for her to go in the midst of very secular college life. "Francois and the other chaplains were so welcoming. I am grateful they provide a place for students to meet, grow in God, and build new friendships with other Christians. The people I've met, the life lessons I've learned from my time spent at The Rock, have been invaluable".

Ziad first came in contact with "The Rock on Campus" as an international student from Palestine, whose family worked with Yasser Arafat. Ziad came to Fanshawe to learn marketing. What he didn't expect to learn about was the deep faith of a female student who wouldn't date Ziad unless he met with the chaplain to answer his difficult questions related to the Christian faith. A muslim by tradition, the chaplain gave Ziad an Arabic New Testament which held his interest so much that he asked to meet weekly with the chaplain to study the Bible. After six months of study, and after developing genuine friendship with the chaplain, Ziad asked to be introduced to Jesus Christ. After a further year of meeting with the chaplain and the student group on campus, Ziad asked the chaplain to baptize him before his church.

Today, Ziad works for TD Canada Trust, is a financial partner of "The Rock on Campus," and is the leader of the Alpha program at North Park Community Church.

Ministry for your church or small group: We would love to have you, your church, or your small group involved in "The Rock on Campus." Here's just one example of how you can make a difference as a church: In the past year, Royal View Church made a difference in the lives of college students by preparing Exam Gift Bags with highlighters, pens and pencils, a Tim's gift card, a package of cup-a-soup and a little note from the Church and the chaplains that the student was being prayed for. These care packages made a big difference in the lives of students during exam time.

In the words of Matt "I first started coming out to The Rock about a year and a half ago .... after a couple of weeks of debating if it was worth it, I finally decided that I would give it a shot. Several weeks after I started coming, I found myself being challenged on things I had not considered. It was exciting and I started seeing God's word in a completely different way. A book I once rarely turned to became relevant to my life. I ended up meeting my best friend because of The Rock, and I continue to learn new things each week."

Save the Date! Join us on Friday May 11th for "Dessert & Coffee" at North Park Community Church and to hear more about this impactful ministry!

Laurel Hardgrove is a volunteer and Rev. Francois Kruger is the Executive Director of The Rock on Campus Canada.