June 20, 2021
My name is Priscilla Ofei-Manu and I am one of the student leaders that head the prayer ministry at Western Illinois Campus Students for Christ Ministries (CSC). I am writing about the experiences I have had being involved in CSC for the past year.
Coming to the United States from the country I used to reside in was quite a hassle. The pandemic was still rampant when I landed in the country in September 2020. Before this, I had gone through online interview sessions with Avery and was very excited to live in an apartment owned by a Christian ministry. My arrival was late in the night but Mary, who was my next-door neighbor at the time, welcomed me so well (shout out to my girl). After my two-week quarantine, which was total bliss for a loner like myself, I was able to meet the students and staff that were involved in CSC. I remember Dr. Boli giving a word from the Book of Esther at the first Sunday service that I attended.
I would say among the many events held at CSC, Testimony Night has been one of the most powerful that I have attended. Testimony Nights are held once every semester. It is an event where people involved in CSC share their life testimonies. These could be how they met Christ, how Jesus delivered them from situations and addictions, or their most recent experience with God in their daily lives. I grew up in different churches including Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Reformed, you name it. I have seen the different dynamics that exist in churches that emphasize different parts of Biblical theology. I grew up in a country with a culture that avoids shame and I saw that seeping into the churches in the land. It was a rare thing to see a church member being transparent and further experiencing the act of giving grace to those who admitted their wrong or their dark past. This is why I found the event quite intriguing. Students would openly admit their past before Christ and frankly confess particular sins and addictions they struggled with.
Revelation 12:11 says “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony….” I tend to emphasize spiritual warfare and intimacy with Christ in the secret place to overcome obstacles but not so much the latter part: sharing problems and/or testimonies with others. Testimony Night was an event that indeed acted out this portion of scripture. Another excellent aspect of this event is how relatable it is for students. CSC is a campus ministry where university students are at the center. Speaking from my own experience, there is a greater degree of conviction and impact made when you see people of the same age group confessing sins they had to wrestle through and boldly proclaim the mercy of God. The detailed information testified enables students who are going through similar situations to first, know that they are not alone, second, that Jesus is always ready to save no matter how much one has fallen, and finally that transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit is indeed possible and available as long as one is willing to repent.
There is more to this event that I considered beautiful. It is the consecutive worship sessions at the end of every testimony. If I may be honest, I initially thought it was redundant to stand and worship at the end of each testimony. Why not have a longer worship session and let the audience listen to each presenter without a worship break, I thought. It seemed like the flow was interrupted each time. I was pondering on this during the event when the scene of David sacrificing bulls and fatlings every time the carriers of the Arch of the Covenant made 6 paces (2 Samuel 6:13) flashed my mind. The fear of God in Davis was at such a degree that bulls were slaughtered and offered to the Lord each time the Arch moved a certain distance; David went ahead and accompanied this act with the sacrificial dance of Joy that he performed “…with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14). He did this having girded himself with a single linen ephod only. David understood that it was only through the Lord that the Arch of the Covenant returned to Judah. He also understood that only God should be given credit for finally making him king. It was an act of giving God all the glory through offering sacrifices in such a meticulous manner. The recurring worship offerings at Testimony Night were not as tedious as David’s but it was an enactment of God’s people humbly acknowledging that God continually deserves our praise and worship for each testimony and each life transformed. While I was deeply embarrassed at my initial thought, I delighted to be one of the people that God transformed and to have the opportunity to rejoice with brethren.
There have been other experiences and opportunities at CSC that enabled me to grow as a Christian and as an individual. Participating in the weekly cleaning of the facility gave me a sense of responsibility to be aware of the presentation and maintenance of the House of God. Sharing a bedroom with someone (that is not a sister) for the first time enabled me to learn the art of rightfully managing and compartmentalizing my time, space, and boundaries. Being a student leader and leading the prayer ministry was the most challenging but fulfilling experience at CSC. While I am not a sociopath, I have been performing an introverted character due to the circumstances and situations of my upbringing. I prefer to be rather discreet but this had cost me the extroverted aspect of my personality. It took some time to bring out that side of myself to relate with people. By God’s grace, I had gotten used to it by the end of the semester and was able to carry out an hour worth of prayer sessions without extreme anxiety or fear. Juggling the prayer ministry with leadership meetings, classes, readings, and assistantship work was PRETTY hard, but it taught me dedication and time management, which I am extremely grateful for.
I have mentioned Mary (Woop Woop!!), who was my neighbor for the first semester. I need to give her a formal shout-out that she deserves. She was such a great help to me when I moved to CSC. She assisted me with navigating the apartment, giving me countless rides for my errands, listening to the tons of burdens I had to let out, became my movie night partner, and most importantly, she became my prayer partner. I am so thankful for the meaningful fellowship we can have from time to time.
I am excited for what the Lord has for me in the second year of my stay at CSC.