Southwestern Adventist University held its annual Student Week of Prayer from October 5 to 9. The week featured nine dynamic messages from members of the SWAU family who spoke on this year’s theme, Pursue.
The speakers were: Hau Sing, junior theology student; Danny Verdugo, senior theology student; Renata Ocampo, Director of CASA - staff; Ivan Franco senior theology student; Austin Stephens, junior psychology student; Sitvi Fehoko, junior theology student; Kayla Goodman, junior theology student; Ismael Valladares, junior biology student; and Kyle Barrow, sophomore theology student. The student speakers are part of the Biblical Preaching Class taught by Professor Buster Swoopes, and all the speakers shared perspectives on what pursuing God means to them.
For Kyle Barrow, it wasn’t about what he was pursuing but rather why he was. Kyle realized that in life, he had done good for selfish desires rather than keeping his relationship with Christ at the center of his motives. He recognized that he had become a slave to the things that were pulling him into the world and away from God. He challenged his fellow knights to surrender their passions to God.
Kyle shared that in certain circumstances, God might even take things away from us so that we can put our focus back on Him. God allowed him to be in a place where he would hear God speaking to him. Kyle called on his fellow students to reflect on what it is that they are pursuing and appealed to them to give everything to God.
As a recently returned student missionary, Kayla shared about what led her to make a year-long commitment to service in Pohnpei. Before traveling, she had been going through a difficult time but decided to trust in God and go serve Him. With the unexpected, God slowed her pace so He could move in her life. She was able to witness and experience God’s goodness as God transformed her life and those around her to reflect Jesus. She saw what it meant to step back and let God take control. God reminded her through His goodness that He was at work. Although Kayla couldn’t finish her year as a missionary due to the global pandemic and has had to face reverse culture shock upon her return to the states, God has continued to work in her life and her heart. Kayla found hope and joy during her year abroad and realized that just as she pursued to serve Him, God pursued her in a deeper manner than she’d expected.
Finally, Ivan Franco vulnerably shared about his journey with depression, some of the phrases people often said to him when he was struggling and some of the moments that caused him to feel worse. He shared that despite the conditions someone may find themselves in, nothing can stop them from receiving blessings from God. God not only invites each person to the table but sits next to them. God does not stop pursuing His children and reminding them that they are worthy of His love. Although they may face challenges, they can remember that God is pursuing us to have a real relationship with Him. What we are reminded to do is to accept the invitation and to pursue a relationship with Him.
“This has been a powerful week on campus,” shared Russ Laughlin, Vice President for Spiritual Development. “Usually we bring a guest speaker to campus in the fall for our Week of Prayer. This year, due to the pandemic, we felt like it would be best to not bring in a speaker to campus but rather have our students speak. What a blessing! Each student’s message was Biblical, practical and powerfully delivered. Our campus was challenged to Pursue God as our top priority.”
These are highlights of three of the nine messages shared during this semester’s week of prayer. To watch each powerful message from Student Week of Prayer, visit www.swau.edu/live.