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UND Chi Alpha

A family away from home

Jake Andersen, Staff Writer

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“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God,”- 2 Corinthians 5:20.

In Greek, “chi” is C and “alpha” is A, representing the first letters of Christ ambassador. Hence, the Christian ministry, Chi Alpha, stands for Christ ambassador. In my life, UND Chi Alpha has not only shown me what it means to be a Christ ambassador, but how to live as one.

In fact, before coming to UND as a transfer student three years ago, I had a flawed perception of Christian churches and ministries. I was under the impression that no matter where I went, I would find a community that labels themselves as Christians, yet doesn’t fully desire to live like Jesus.

As a freshman at Bethel University, I read the Bible more than any other time in my life. I found that Jesus lived an intentional life, a life that not only saved me, but showed me how to live as a follower of Him. Yet, every church or ministry I went to, I was left disappointed when I didn’t see those communities desire to live as Jesus did.

Don’t get me wrong, as humans, we are all imperfect, especially me, but that shouldn’t change our desire to do and follow what’s right. Yet, I had not found a community of people that lived with that desire until I came to UND.

I remember coming here, hoping for a new start and community that would embrace and accept me. I had lacked approval my whole life and I just wanted to feel like I belonged, feel like God was there in my life.

In my first week at UND, I experienced quite the opposite. I experienced the same loneliness that I had felt before, the same loneliness that made me question if God was really present in my life. So, I locked myself in my dorm room in West Hall, regretting my decision to transfer four and a half hours away from the comfort of home.

Yet, that all changed one afternoon when a friend of mine, who was attending NDSU, recommended I check out Chi Alpha. She told me the ministry changed her life at NDSU and that she could connect me with two pastors from UND Chi Alpha.

I accepted that offer in a heartbeat and was surprised when Chi Alpha pastor Mark Erickson asked for my number and wanted to meet with me.

I must admit, I was skeptical, but I was pleasantly surprised when he started asking about my life rather than shove the Bible down my throat. I saw a man that genuinely wanted to get to know me. It was a breath of fresh air, especially when he ended our meeting by praying over me, something I had never experienced before.

That same week, I went to Chi Alpha, meeting in their normal spot in the Reed Keller building on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. I went alone, I knew no one except Mark, something that was out of my comfort zone, but I was approached and welcomed right away and even invited to a small group.

Furthermore, I saw something that I had never seen before in a community, a group that desired to follow Jesus full-heartedly and wanted to love people, whatever their background.

In small group, I met with a group of guys weekly that became my best friends. They supported and genuinely cared about me. We discussed the Bible and Jesus, as well as how to apply His teachings to our lives, but equally important, we discussed the highs and lows of our lives in an environment free of condemnation and instead, replaced  it with love and grace. Basically, we practiced living as Jesus did, not only to one another, but also, the community around us.

In Chi Alpha meetings on Thursdays, I learned about who God is and what he wants for my life and the messages radically changed and humbled me. I realized that while I thought I knew how to live like Jesus, my actions didn’t align with what I knew to be true and I needed that community to hold myself accountable.

And now, as I finish my third year at UND, I have made huge strides in my life, as well as my relationship with God, thanks to a community that has kept me accountable and steadfast for God, even during the most challenging of times. Times that I didn’t deserve forgiveness and grace, but was shown it anyway because that’s part of what it means to live as a Christian ambassador.

While I recognize that the Chi Alpha community is full of imperfect people, the difference is that they have a hunger for God and a desire to speak life into people that are in need. They have shown me how to live as the hands and feet of Jesus and were that for me in my times of need and for that, I am forever thankful. It has shown me that there are Christians living intentionally for Jesus in this world and most importantly, that I am capable of living in the same way.

To incoming and attending students, if you are in need of community in your life, a community that is willing to accept, support and encourage you in the ups and downs that life throws at you, I have found no better place than Chi Alpha. Just come as you are and be ready to join a community that feels more like family.

 

Jake Andersen is a staff writer for   The Dakota Student. He can be reached at  jacob.t.andersen@und.edu

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