Cold. Tired. Wet. These were the first few words that came to mind as I awoke surrounded by the morning dew.
While daybreak pushed through the darkness of the previous night, the blades of grass I had once embraced now seemed less inviting after five sleepless hours.
Nearly 200 students slept, scattered around the lower soccer fields in those early morning hours as part of the first Exile Experience on campus.
While many ideas clouded our fatigued minds, one sobering thought dominated.
What we had experienced during that night is norm for hundreds of thousands of Christian refugees around the world today.
Each morning, they wake up and face an uncertain future. Some don’t know where they will get their next meal.
Others live in constant fear of attack from ISIS or other militant organizations.
To say refugees have it rough is an understatement.
The Exile Experience was not only meant to give a glimpse of what refugees face on a day-to-day basis, but focused specifically on the suffering many Christians endure for Christ’s name.
Considering their persecution, there are many self-reflective questions we can ask ourselves. What would I be willing to endure for the sake of Christ?
Would I still praise God and refuse to deny my faith if my 9-year-old brother or 13-year-old sister were beaten to death in front of me?
If I were to be beaten so brutally that I could barely walk, would I still count myself fortunate to have suffered for the sake of Christ?
Even now, these are difficult questions to answer because until we truly experience that intense suffering, it’s hard to say how any one of us would act.
But because we don’t currently face brutal beatings or fear for the lives of our families, can we truly know what sacrifice for Christ means?
And does committing ourselves to living for Christ mean living a life of suffering for us? I believe there is a misconception even before asking the question.
Because of the Fall, we already live in a world of suffering. But by committing ourselves to living for Christ, we begin suffering for the right thing, the ultimate reason —the glory of God.
But what does sacrificing our lives for Christ and God’s glory on BJU campus mean?
Perhaps we can begin to understand the meaning by learning everything we can about His Word and His world around us.
We should study theology, science, art, history, business, education, health and anything that will equip us for a life of service.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that while students, faculty or staff, we’re on this campus and in this community for a purpose: God’s glory.
In a more specific sense, sacrifice for God’s glory means taking time to listen to that student struggling with academics, fighting illnesses or worrying about their family back home.
Sacrifice means going out of your way to help a classmate on a project when he’s stressed with every aspect of life.
Sacrifice means spending the precious time God gave us by going out into the community around us and sharing the love of Christ.
Sacrifice means living unselfishly and continuously looking for opportunities to serve and love.
But striving to live worthy for Christ doesn’t mean we’re going to be instantly perfect.
We’re going to mess up during our lives. A lot. But that shouldn’t stop us from serving our God with all our heart, by His grace of course.
That doesn’t mean we’ll live a life of ease nor does it ensure we will be tortured and martyred for His name.
Committing our lives means we submit ourselves to God and trust He knows what’s best for our lives.
Like those Christian refugees and like many Christians living around the world suffering for Christ’s name, I want to sacrifice my life so that others may see Christ.
If even one soul comes to the saving knowledge of Christ’s cross, I will count my life as well lived.
During our Exile Experience, during that sleepless night on the fields, a speaker made a thought-provoking statement to us.
The fundamental difference between Christian refugees and us is this: their lives are a daily reminder of the exile we are all living on this earth.
How are you sacrificing your life for His name?