College Ministry Through a Mother's Eyes
By Erin Wilmoth
This fall I started attending a freshman bible study on Bradley’s campus. Now, we have been working in campus ministry with Cru for over 10 years, but its been awhile since I’ve been in this environment. The bulk of the last eight years has been spent at home with my 4 kiddos and sometimes meeting with student leaders or staff. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I drove onto campus that first night. The last time I was in this environment was when I was a newly married, recent college graduate who felt closer to a peer to these 18 year olds. And while in spirit I sometimes feel like that same person, I feel confident that they do not see this 34 year old mom-of-an-8-year-old as their peer.
I started doubting that it was the right place for me. I’m not cool (which is even obvious by my use of the word “cool”). I don’t know the lingo. While I’ve tried not to totally fall into obscurity, my clothes aren’t trendy and I haven’t watched any current movies or TV in a while. Would they want to be my friend? Listen to me? Let me listen to them? Not resent my intrusion in their bible study?
But the Holy Spirit quickly pointed out the self-focused nature of those thoughts, and my sweet husband encouraged me that my presence had value. But I still wanted to know why. What do I have to offer to freshmen college students?
And while I’m sure there are actually quite a few reasons, the one that I’ve settled in my soul is that I bring the gospel. And that more than just bringing the gospel, I bring a fluency in the gospel that has been gained over the past 8 years of mothering that I could not have offered during those years when I felt more confident in my place with students.Articulating and sharing the gospel clearly is a distinctive of Cru. So I had the “Knowing God Personally” booklet (which succinctly shares the gospel) memorized, and I shared it often those first years. But I feel confident that the practical implications of the gospel in my everyday life were not nearly as clear as they are now. Because I have the privilege of caring for, loving, teaching, and disciplining my children (aka little sinners) with almost every waking moment of my day, the need for a Savior to rescue my children from their natural sinful state is painfully obvious to me everyday. Every correction gives opportunity to point them to their need for forgiveness and a new heart. We discuss the gospel often in our house.
But maybe more than seeing the need in my children, I see the need in myself. I am daily faced with the reality that I am a desperate, wicked sinner in need of grace. In other, younger seasons of life I probably could have finished a day and really not been able to quickly see and confess my sin. But it is painfully obvious now in my irritation when my will is not done, my harsh words in the face of disobedience, my ability to lash out in anger at a problem that I have created and do not want to own, my offering of condemnation instead of grace, my laziness in doing the hard work of discipline, my refusal to run to Jesus instead of chocolate or Facebook. I am daily humbled at how much I fall short of God’s standards. And even as I write this, I am reminded that I cannot stop there, but that I must look up. All that God requires is to look at the Son, as the Israelites needed only to look at the serpent on the pole to be healed. And when I look up, I see a Father who loves so much that He would graciously give me all things, but most importantly his Son.And it is this fluency in the gospel that qualifies me to walk into University Hall on Tuesday nights and sit with those freshmen. Because while they may not yet see their need, I do. And more than seeing their need, I know the One they need because I need Him, too. And through mother’s eyes, I can see them with compassion and love and speak with the gospel fluency that I have gained alongside the ability to change a diaper and prepare lunch one handed while holding a toddler.I often ask my husband if my brain will come back from the hiatus it seems to have taken, but even if it doesn’t, I don’t believe I will quickly forget the hold the gospel has taken in my soul. My roots have gone down deep in Jesus. So, moms of littles, while our days may seem incredibly foreign to those in other stages, we speak the heart language that all the world needs to hear. Motherhood teaches us fluency in what is most important - the gospel. So let’s keep speaking, no matter where we are.
Erin has been married to Micaiah for over a decade and has 4 sweet kiddos. Most of her time is spent doing her best to homeschool her boys while keeping her girls out of trouble and not letting the house be completely destroyed in the process. In rare free time, she enjoys a hike in the woods and a chai tea latte.