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The Power of Living Among the Lost

December 21, 2015

If you visit the eighth floor of Humphreys Dorm at the University of Arkansas, you will notice something very unusual over one of the doors—a plaque dedicated to student Ben McKibben.

It’s not a memorial to a student who lost his life while attending college. And he isn’t an Olympic Champion or an American Idol.

I share Ben’s story with my leadership team every year. Why? His commitment to share the Gospel with his peers is an example for all student leaders.

In spite of his upperclassman perks, Ben chose to live with his peers in Humphrey’s dorm all four years of his college career.

Residence hall leaders were so impressed by Ben, they placed a plaque in his honor above the door.

John 1:14 tells us Jesus Christ “made his dwelling among us.” He came to earth as a man and lived among normal, everyday people.

Jesus could have lived anywhere. He could have lived in the most exclusive gated community of his day! He could have lived in a palace! But he chose to dwell with us. Why? He knows the best way to reach people He loves is to live among them.

A student willing to live on campus is a powerful weapon in reaching peers who are far from God.

Like Jesus, Ben chose to reach the lost by living among them. But why is it so powerful?

Here are three of the most important ways students can reach the lost by living in the dorm.

Living among the lost models a Christlike life

When a Christian is constantly visible to his peers, they have a chance to see how he responds to difficult situations.

They witness how he treats others when things aren’t going his way, whether he serves others or is self-serving, and how he puts the needs and wants of others ahead of his own.

When a student lives off campus, this witness of character is less constant and focused on the times when being Christlike is easy.

Living among the lost multiplies gospel opportunities

A student who eats, studies, sleeps and unwinds among his peers has significantly more opportunities for Gospel conversation.

We can’t plan when others will be open to hearing the Good News, but living with the lost allows students to share the Good News of Christ at the times the hearers are most open.

It may be at lunch after a hard, unsatisfying night of partying or in the dorm room at midnight just after a breakup.

The student who lives off campus misses ministering in the most powerful moments.

Living among the lost forces ministry… even when you don’t feel like it.

Once a student who lives off campus runs home to his apartment for dinner or a shower, it’s difficult for him to want to get back to campus to minister to others.

Sacrificing comfort and privacy for the decision to live on campus removes the temptation to “stay home.”

In the long run, it’s easier to not be faced with hundreds of decisions to deny oneself and leave the comfort of home.

Challenge your leaders to stay on campus all four years. A student willing to live on campus is a powerful weapon in reaching peers who are far from God, as well as building disciples.

The Great Commission is not going to be fulfilled by people motivated by convenience and comfort. It’s going to take spiritual leaders who have yielded every area of their lives to the lordship of Christ, including the decision to live on campus.

Challenging students about aligning their vision and living situation can expose comforts, but they need to be exposed.

My prayer is for an entire generation of Ben McKibbens, willing to make any sacrifice for their peers to come to know Him. A generation of young spiritual leaders who will “make their dwelling among them.”

Reflection Questions

What testimonies do you have because a student lived in the dorm?

How can we support students who choose to live in the dorm?