CEDARVILLE, Ohio (BP) — More than 100 students made professions of faith in Christ during Cedarville University’s annual Fall Bible Conference. Another 90-plus students responded to a call to full-time ministry.
“We praise God that each of these students responded in faith, moving forward toward what they felt God wanted them to do,” said Thomas White, president of Cedarville in southwest Ohio. “It was an amazing week, and we are praying that it is only the beginning of even more spiritual awakening.”
This year’s speaker, Clayton King, founder of Clayton King Ministries and teaching pastor at NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., spoke to 3,400-plus students, faculty and staff during the Aug. 17-20 conference.
King shared the story of loss in his own life, including the deaths of his mother and father. He spoke about weakness and brokenness and how God uses those times as a way to worship Him and as a way to heal.
“Hard times don’t make us happy,” King said early in the week. “They keep us humble and make us holy.”
Those words — and others sown by King in his series of messages — fell on fertile ground at Cedarville, which has been endorsed by the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio since 2002.
After the student body was dismissed Tuesday evening, residents of Lawlor Hall formed their traditional ring around their parking lot to sing songs of praise and pray for those who had made decisions during the service.
“While coming together in prayer and praise is something of a longstanding tradition, this year felt so different,” said Scott Stephens, Lawlor’s resident director. “We were able to celebrate what the Holy Spirit had done just moments before. There was a great energy.”
Among those touched by the Spirit of God: freshman Megan Orr, a new student from Crystal Lake, Ill.
Orr spent the summer preparing herself for a new chapter in life — new friends, new challenges and the beginning of her studies as a psychology major. She came to Cedarville from a Christian home with faithful church attendance. But, she recounted, something was missing in her life.
“I’d always been really plugged in with my church,” Orr said. “I always thought I’m doing great, I’m doing ‘the God thing’ but I never really understood it. I’d go to church camp or a youth retreat and be on fire for God, but it didn’t last.” Eventually, her church attendance became sporadic and she wasn’t inclined to consider a Christian university when the time came to choose a college.
“I was struggling with a lot of guilt,” Orr said. “I kept telling myself that I was a sinner and I didn’t belong in church. I didn’t even want to attend a Christian college, but my parents brought me for a visit and convinced me it would be good for me.”
While sitting in the pew during King’s Tuesday evening message, Orr couldn’t help but feel that something was pulling her toward a decision about faith. “I could feel that something big was going to happen,” she said. “As I listened to Clayton pray for us and ask us to pray along, I began to cry. I knew that I needed to trust in Jesus.”
Orr returned to her room in Printy Hall after the service and began a frantic search through her Bible to find the exact words to pray.
That’s when senior Anna Prosise came alongside and explained there is no ritualistic passage or process that Orr needed; she simply had to ask Jesus to save her from sin. For Orr, that moment was the culmination of something that had been building since she stepped foot on campus four days earlier, encountering faculty, staff and students who welcomed her and pointed her toward Christ.
“It can be easy to take for granted the privilege we have to live in a community like this,” Prosise said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us at Cedarville. Never again will we have the opportunity to be around this many believers who will challenge you, grow with you and support you.”
Not lost on how God moved during the Bible conference is the $17,764 offering from attendees for the Miami Valley Women’s Center, a nonprofit organization in suburban Dayton that educates men and women with parenting skills, assists women who are considering an abortion, and provides regular Bible training for their clients.
“[W]e look forward to following up on each decision,” White said, “as we use their 1,000 days on campus to intentionally guide them to a life that glorifies God.”