Melissa moved into her dormitory room at Newbold College. She smiled when some of the other students stopped by to greet her. Her English wasn’t as good as she thought. Oh, how I wish I had studied English more seriously, she thought.
But she learned quickly, and didn’t feel so alone when she realized that many of the other students knew less English than she did. She marveled at the international makeup of Newbold. Students from four continents were studying there, and some knew almost no English.
Kim,* her roommate in the dormitory, was from Korea, and the two worked hard to understand each other. Their conversations often wandered from school to work to personal lives. One day Kim grew silent for several minutes, thinking. Then she looked at Melissa and asked, “How can I believe in God?”
The question surprised Melissa, who thought that Kim was a Christian. “Can you teach me about God?” Kim continued. Melissa wondered where to begin. She had grown up in a Christian home, and her grandfather had been an Adventist pastor. But she felt at a loss for words. Where do I begin? she prayed.
Kim and Melissa spent a lot of time that year talking about God. Melissa realized that God was using her to introduce her roommate to Jesus. During their conversations Melissa learned what it means to share her faith. And in sharing, Melissa’s own faith grew. Sometimes Kim asked Melissa to pray with her. Melissa prayed, and then Kim prayed the prayer in Korean. Melissa would become so excited about their conversations that often she couldn’t sleep. “I was seeing Kim’s faith grow, and it amazed me,” Melissa said.
One night when the lights were out, Kim whispered that she wanted to pray. The two girls were silent for several minutes, and Melissa wondered why her friend was silent. Then Kim whispered, “Melissa, how do I start?”
“Pray to God as you would talk to a friend,” Melissa said gently. And Kim started praying.
Another evening Kim prayed, “Thank You, God, for a good day. Melissa, how was Your day?” Melissa was surprised, for she was not used to people interrupting their prayer to talk to someone in the room. Then she realized that prayer could be more than a dialogue between God and a person. It could be a conversation among friends. Kim was actually teaching Melissa how to relate to God. It was so neat to see her getting to know God.
Near the end of the school year Kim told a group of students that she had become a Christian. Melissa swallowed hard to keep from crying. God used me to help lead Kim to Jesus, she thought. This is why I’m at Newbold—to prepare me to help others find God.
Melissa understands more clearly now why God has called her to study theology at Newbold College, the Trans-European Division’s only senior college. She, along with the majority of students studying at Newbold, is part of the majority of students from outside England, where the school is located. Besides the more than 20 countries and islands of the Trans-European Division, students come from Africa, Asia, North America, South America, and elsewhere in Europe.
Melissa doesn’t feel like a minority in her studies, either. About one third of the students in her theology classes are women. “It doesn’t mean that we all will become pastors,” she says. “But several will. I just want to prepare myself to serve God wherever He calls me. Thinking about that excites me.”
“I get homesick,” she adds truthfully. “It’s a two-hour flight home to Norway, where I grew up, and I can’t go home often. But I’m not sorry that I am studying here. Our professors and lecturers challenge us academically. They make us think for ourselves. And they encourage us in our faith.
“I’m glad I’m here. I know God is training me, preparing me, for the future,” she adds. “I don’t know what that something will be, but I know it won’t be nothing.”
Newbold College is a small school with a big job. It provides critical education opportunities to students enrolled in a number of programs. Finances are always tight, and the school must meet high standards. Constant upgrades must be made to meet national requirements.
One critical need is to upgrade the women’s dormitory, the dormitory where Melissa introduced Kim to Jesus. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help complete these upgrades and assure a safe and healthy environment for the women who call their dormitory home during their studies.
*not her real name