GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–The murmur of lowered voices mingled with the melody of worship songs as groups of students huddled in the morning sunlight.
The sounds of hammers pounding wood quickly cut through the quiet morning as groups of collegians from across the country and as far away as Australia staked more than 70 crosses on a field opposite the prayer garden at LifeWay’s Glorieta Conference Center.
Written prayer requests covered the 2-foot crosses -– petitions for nations, friends, college campuses.
Each cross represented students “staking down a claim on your campus this fall and spring,” National Collegiate Week speaker Jon Randles told the crowd in opening the Aug. 3-9 gathering at Glorieta outside Santa Fe, N.M.
Randles, a popular collegiate ministries speaker, encouraged Collegiate Week attendees to understand and nurture their passion for Christ.
“This isn’t the first generation to have passion,” Randles said, citing the Vietnam and civil rights generation as an example. “But that generation lost it.
“God has given the passion back to you in a more spiritual, theological way.”
Many of the 1,200 students who attended the conference sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention came with their school’s Baptist student organization or their local church’s college class. Each group received one of the wooden crosses on which students could write their petitions for prayer or otherwise decorate. Some used a simple pencil to cover their crosses with writing while purple cloth and pictures of national flags adorned others.
As Collegiate Week worship leaders Ross King and Band played quietly from a makeshift stage, students held hands or wrapped arms around each other’s shoulders and prayed for one another and their world.
The prayer crosses helped Joni Watanabe from the University of Hawaii focus less on herself and more on the people and circumstances around her during a week designed to grow her personal walk.
“It helped our group come together in unity,” said Watanabe, attending her third Collegiate Week conference at Glorieta. “We’re all fighting the same fight.”
One by one, groups staked their crosses into the ground and trickled from the field to attend the various activities that filled the week. But the crosses remained in place throughout the conference, and individual students as well as whole groups returned to the field at undesignated times to add new requests or pray for those already listed.
This is the second time students have gathered to display crosses with prayer requests during Glorieta’s annual Collegiate Week conference, and Bill Wade, LifeWay’s national collegiate ministry specialist, said he would like to see the tradition continue.
“This is a group you invest in for the future,” Wade said. “We did this once before and it was just extremely popular. We’d like to make it a yearly thing.”
For more information about Collegiate Week at LifeWay Glorieta or LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., visit LifeWay.com.