The day finally came. After weeks of prayer, leader training, and connecting with new freshmen at orientation, the first IGNITE of the semester arrived. I saw the look of pure elation on the student leaders’ faces as 300 college students crammed into Summit's Galleria for coffee hour.
For those of you who don’t know, our coffee hour runs immediately before our Tuesday night gathering at the church. It’s another way for students to get connected and meet others in the ministry. A ministry partner of ours, Ride Nature, supplies our coffee.
To say it was an amazing night would be a massive understatement. I had new students rushing me at the end of the night overjoyed that they had found this type of community within the body of Florida Gulf Coast University. Bella, a young woman I had encouraged to attend, was hugging me at the end of the night saying, “This was the closest I have ever felt to The Lord.”
I am encouraged not just by the response of the students to our gathering but that 300 college students were presented with the gospel on that night alone.
While the gathering itself was clearly a wonderful blessing, the mission of giving every college student repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel is moving forward outside of Tuesday nights as well. In order to personally engage with new students, IGNITE offers “Coffee Connections,” in which one of our leaders will take a new face (we call them “new friends”) to get a cup of coffee (we buy) in order to get to know them, answer questions, and, hopefully, welcome them into the community. Incredibly, over 350 new freshmen signed up for a coffee connection at FGCU’s freshman orientation. That number accounts for about 10% of the new freshman class! Every day that I have been on campus this week, Starbucks has been full of IGNITE leaders meeting new friends. But our on-campus presence has not ended there.
With the beginning of the school year comes a seemingly limitless amount of opportunities to have a presence on campus. From involvement fairs to freshman events, library lawn carnivals to personal coffee connections, we meet a lot of people and that’s a very good thing! FGCU is a campus of just over 15,000 students, and about 6% of those are Christian. Our hope is that every student, all 15,000 students, will have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel during this school year, so we take every opportunity to meet them by engaging with them on campus.
The first few weeks of the semester are tiring, time-consuming, crazy, and at the same time one of my favorite parts of the year. I have been blessed to see the Lord’s activity on this campus over the past five years. Each year, I am humbled by his work in the hearts of students at FGCU. It is impossible to know what is to come this year. However, God has proven time and time again that he is already there, working for our good and his glory.
- Jennie Gibson, IGNITE