Westmont Magazine God Is at Work at Westmont
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” — Isaiah 43:18, 19
God loves Westmont College. Clearly his hand has been on this place since its inception. Our staff in the campus pastor’s office feels privileged to partner with Him in the work that He is doing with students, faculty and staff. Daily there is evidence that He is doing a new thing here, and with that knowledge comes joy, anticipation, lots of prayer and plenty to do!
There are a variety of ways to measure the spiritual climate on campus and many that could offer additional thoughts. These are a few of my observations as a pastor to students.
This year Campus Pastor Ben Patterson has been preaching on the themes of joy and edification of the body in chapel. Visiting speakers have addressed topics ranging from justice to racial reconciliation to missions. The reception by students has been both enthusiastic and reflective. They are engaging in worship in new ways, and attendance has increased.
Recently our office designed a response card that students turn in when they register their attendance in chapel. On the card, they can request prayer, an appointment with one of our staff, chapel tapes or devotional materials. They can indicate interest in small groups, spiritual direction or mission outreach, or request transportation to area churches. The response has been exciting!
We have also been encouraged by participation in the “School of Prayer” that Ben teaches on Thursday nights, the question-answer sessions with visiting chapel speakers and seminars that address difficult questions about the faith. Optional evening chapels have been added this year to engage students in a more relaxed, spontaneous style of worship.
Response and participation are good indicators that the thirst for God is increasing, but when students begin to initiate worship, spiritual renewal flourishes.
Last November, Kate Retzer, a participant in one of our leadership training groups, had the vision to lead a seven-day Jericho walk around the campus. Forty students joined her each morning at sunrise singing and praying for the Westmont community. On the last day, Kate reports: “As we got closer, we let out a shout and everyone began to yell for joy! I was suddenly overwhelmed with the whole scene, the faithfulness of God and the joy of completing the walk. That moment . . . . is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Shortly after that, 50 students traveled to Vanguard University to pray with Christian college students all over Southern California for God to do a new work on their campuses. Our capable ministry interns, Meghan Obermann and Megan Nevills, are busy strategizing how to transport more students to a larger event at the Rose Bowl in February.
Perhaps you can see why we are all grateful that we have been called to this work. Few things are more satisfying than helping young men and women listen to God, worship Him, and explore ways to serve Him through their chosen vocations. Many people say that this is a very special generation — that God will do a mighty work in the world through them. I believe this is true as I watch students who are willing to fast and pray and relinquish their personal desires for the sole purpose of pleasing God.
Please pray with us that God will be able to do all that he desires at Westmont so that it will be a light to the surrounding community and throughout the world.