Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Story (Part 8) - Darkness Sets In

Read Part 7

I came out of the gate as a rookie R.A. full of enthusiasm.  That quickly faded.  I won't go into all the details.  But to keep it short, my two years as an R.A. were two of the darkest years of my life.  A cynicism began to take hold of me.  Burnout set in.  So, why did I do it a second year?  I figured the second year had to be better. It wasn't.  The bright spot of those two years was when that girl I fell in love with my first day on campus went from being my best friend to my girlfriend!  She was huge blessing to pull me through those two years.

Perhaps the biggest reason things turned so dark was that, in the midst of the pressures of classes and being an R.A. on the football floor, for the first time in my Christian life I began to let my prayer life take a backseat to everything else I was doing.

The Chapel in North Canton
I was also being spiritually supported by attending The Chapel in North Canton.  What made this so special was that Pastor Bennett, who had since left Valley View Village Church, was now the pastor in North Canton.  It was wonderful to be under his teaching every Sunday once again.

I was also able to work through some of my struggles with the campus Chaplain, Phil Howard.  I first met Phil in my freshman year as I sat on the search committee for the chaplain position.  Phil and a new friend of mine, Kris, were the first people I knew of who were a part of a denomination called The Christian and Missionary Alliance, which will come around again soon.

Phil Howard
After these two difficult years, I knew I had to set aside the R.A. role for my senior year.  This proved to be a wise choice.  During my senior year, I roomed with my friend Kris.  As an R.A., I had a room to myself, which was nice, but having someone else with me probably would have spared me a lot of pain in those two years.

Together, Kris and I worked with Phil Howard to establish a men's ministry on campus which enjoyed a nice season.  I also had the opportunity to do an internship with Pastor Bennett.  I cherished my one-on-one times with him as he taught me the ins and outs of pastoral ministry.  

Early in this senior year, my girlfriend and I had gotten engaged and Phil worked through premarital counseling with us.  This also served to help me get my feet under me again and leave behind the two dark years as an R.A..

Cleveland Municipal Stadium
Another blessing that came to me in this time was when I left the painting work and got a job at a local Christian book store.  One of the perks with the job was that I was able to help set up book tables for the Billy Graham Crusade in Cleveland in 1994 at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium.  I had also gone through training to serve as a counselor for the event.  I know people have mixed feeling on Dr. Graham, but being in the middle of what was happening was a special time.  What I will forever most remember about that event is one afternoon when we were unloading books from a truck, the crusade choir was dismissing from their practice and the entire choir filled with halls of the stadium singing, "Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King."  Gave me chills.

Through all of these events and into my senior year, my prayer life was being restored.  Perhaps the defining moment in this restoration was when a friend lovingly confronted me about letting studying and ministry take the place of seeking God.  I am forever grateful for this brother.

As college graduation came, wedding plans were on the agenda, as well as preparing for begin my seminary studies.

Read Part 9

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