*For security purposes, this anonymous alumni will be given the pseudonym of “Jake” to maintain confidentiality in this article.
Jake graduated from Stanford University following four years in Chi Alpha and was baptized his senior year. He remains heavily involved as a Chi Alpha alumnus and lives in San Diego with his wife and family. Jake lives intentionally as a military officer where he attends technical school to prepare him to serve overseas.
How did Chi Alpha impact your life?
I was raised Christian, but any meager faith I had fell by the wayside almost immediately when I went to college. I started sleeping around, developed a serious addiction, and made friends with atheists almost exclusively. I went to one or two Chi Alpha services per quarter, usually by accident when I would bike past late-night services and hear the worship music drifting up into the crisp evening air. I would sneak in the back and leave early, trying to avoid conversation and overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame.
I finally started going to Chi Alpha more in junior year. As I write this, I’m thinking about Colossians 4:6 — the people I met in Chi Alpha had something extra in their lives, an indescribable salt that drew me in and made me want to talk to them more. As time went on, I could feel the two warring sides of my life approaching a breaking point. I had been discussing marriage with a girl who was an atheist, while simultaneously talking to my Chi Alpha pastor about whether I could be with a woman who wasn’t Christian – but knew, deep in my heart, that I had to make a choice between the two. After months of discussion and thought, I broke up with her – and four days later, the COVID lockdowns began.
Over the next year, I threw myself into the study of Christianity with the constant help and advice of my peers in Chi Alpha. I knew in my heart that God was important enough to throw away this relationship for, but I had no clue how to actually be Christian and no clue what that meant. I joined a life group in Chi Alpha, started reading through theology books by C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton with Chi Alpha friends, and for the first time in my life, started reading my Bible and going to church of my own free will. By the time students were allowed back on campus, almost exactly one year later, I had turned from my sexual sin, was slowly healing from my addiction, and was ready to get baptized. Chi Alpha was the tool God used to rescue me.
How do you continue to live on mission and be involved in discipleship?
First, while active missionary work is strictly prohibited within the military, I found that the simple act of not hiding my faith had a huge impact. These are small things, like reading C. S. Lewis or Tim Keller books during breaks, praying silently before lunch, or explaining that I can’t go to certain events on Sunday mornings because I’m going to church. Over time, months of those small, non-confrontational acts have helped foster a willingness to discuss faith openly and happily within the workplace, even among non-Christians.
Secondly, I still love those same atheist friends I found when I first came to college! They’re very aware that my life has changed dramatically for the better in the past two years, that I’m suddenly free from guilt and happy with who I am. Answering their questions about God is one of the greatest joys I have, and I pray every day for their conversion.
What advice/encouragement would you give other alumni who are trying to live on mission in the marketplace?
Don’t hide your acts of worship! If you pray before meals, pray before meals at work. If you read books about God, read them on your breaks. When you go to church, don’t let work pressures shift that, and don’t be afraid to say that’s where you’re going when you’re asked. God will use these moments to prompt conversation and to introduce Christ into your neighbors’ lives.