Homecoming is taking place on many high school and college campuses this month: football games, parades, seeing old friends, lots of good food and plenty of cheering. It’s a fun time with a lot of emotions involved in the anticipation and preparation. In all, a celebration is happening.
But other situations may come to mind with the idea of homecoming.
I think of Andrew and Bullen, two former Troy University students from South Sudan. Both would love to be able to go home and celebrate “homecoming,” to be servant leaders in their communities and enjoying family togetherness.
But conflict continues to rage in their country where people are dying in war and of starvation. So as they anticipate and prepare for that future day of returning home, Bullen shares Christ and provides aid to other Sudanese refugees in Uganda, and Andrew is in America raising support and aid to those fighting for their lives in South Sudan.
I also think about other international students who have come to the United States and accepted Christ as Savior and have to return home to a hostile atmosphere where they may be rejected for their faith. So I lift up a prayer for the Spirit of God to go before them to prepare the way so they may share the Good News and that the celebration can continue in other lives, that His love will not be rejected.
I am reminded often of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) as I meet students who grew up in church but have since wandered into destructive lifestyles and empty philosophies. They are in need of homecoming – to a God who loves them unconditionally, to parents who continue to pray for and anticipate a return, to a celebration of cleansing and hope.
God does not take us back home as hired servants but as His children, forgiven (repentance is a necessity) and loved.
I am encouraged by those students who are strongly committed to their relationships with Christ, and they are boldly seeking ways to love and minister to fellow students through word and deed. They may be the voice God uses to draw a prodigal back toward home. One beautiful aspect of this story is God does not take us back home as hired servants but as His children, forgiven (repentance is a necessity) and loved. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. …they began to celebrate.”
As homecoming events take place around the country on many academic campuses this month, pray that Christian students will be bold to share God’s story of love and forgiveness. Pray for lives to be transformed, for relationships to be healed, for celebration to break out.