Monday, September 29, 2014

Praying for and with students at CNU

  The Rev. Lauren McDonald, campus chaplain at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, took a leap out of her comfort zone and is ministering to the students at CNU in a new way - the plaza prayer station.

"Sometime last spring I read a blog post by Jonathan Melton, campus minister at University of Wisconsin-Madison," writes McDonald. "In the post Jonathan talked about starting what I call a 'chapel steps' ministry in which he put out a couple of chairs next to a sign that said, 'How may I pray for you?' Although I didn't remember all the details, that blog post lodged itself in my brain, and from time to time I would think about it and ask myself whether I wanted to start such a ministry at CNU. What he did sounded so brave to this shy introvert."

The Rev. Lauren McDonald (L) with two CNU Canterburians.
McDonald is sharing her experiences on her blog, Leaping Greenly Spirits. If you spend any time on Facebook you may have seen some of her posts. They are highly recommended reading.

"I had such low expectations for this ministry," writes McDonald. "My whole goal was to be brave enough to set up a sign and sit next to it. I had figured it would take a long time for students to get used to me being there. Never underestimate God."

Just three weeks into her effort, McDonald has "repeat customers" join her as soon as she arrives - talking about their lives and their classes, asking questions, sharing problems.

 The students "are drawn to the presence of a person praying for them, someone who doesn't judge or grade them, someone who isn't there to enforce rules, someone with a little more life experience, someone who has time to listen," writes McDonald. "Maybe we'll spontaneously start doing noon-day prayer together... Maybe I'll have another week where no one comes. But they will see me, sitting there, available if they need me, ready to listen. There's no telling what might happen.  We need to stay open for surprises - there's no telling what God might do next."

The Rev. Lauren McDonald's blog is Leaping Greenly Spirits,