Story by John M and Jerusha K, Campus ministry
“Mentally unhealthy is the new normal” – Jerusha Karraker, Campus Ministry
Dealing with mental health is an everyday occurrence for students, says Jerusha Karraker, who works with the Power to Change Campus Ministry.
“I think Gen Z is really asking a lot of good questions like, ‘Does Jesus care about this?’”, she says. “Young people want to know if Christianity has an answer for the things they’re really concerned about, or struggling with and facing”.
With the ongoing impacts of Covid, Power to Change’s campus ministry is increasingly addressing questions about how Jesus is relevant to people’s mental health.
A four-week study created by Cru called Mental Health and Jesus has been a useful way of engaging with young people. It has many tips and information from counsellors and therapists. The tips include advice on how to deal with anxiety, having healthy ways to cope with life, and inviting people to consider turning to Jesus in their anxiety and uncertainty. Other handy tools the study looks at are breath work and meditation.
The team is going to start doing the study with a couple of different girls on campus and have them invite their friends.
It’s encouraging that our students are willing to invite their friends, and we love hearing about what happens when they do.
One girl invited her friend, Rachel, to a Bible study. Rachel has struggled with the tension of wanting to be accepted by people around her and also knowing that God accepts her fully.
“I thought my friends saw Christianity as this uncool, strict, religion,” she said. “I didn’t know where to start in sharing my faith because I feared that they would reject me because of things I’d say.”
Then Rachel bumped into a high school friend who asked if she would like to come to a Bible study. What she remembers is feeling comfortable, heard and accepted without having to do anything to prove herself or fit in.
“I would share my thoughts and could see that everyone was genuinely trying to hear and understand what I was saying”, Rachel said.
Encouraged by their warmth, Rachel explained that, “No one was trying to outdo the other with trying to give the best answer. It was something I hadn’t experienced within a university setting before.”
Rachel then met more familiar faces from her high school who were part of Power to Change. “This really encouraged me as God showed me how they were boldly living out their faith on campus”, she eagerly said. “They weren’t trying to fit in with the university culture. Instead, they considered where they were as an opportunity to serve and honour God in their courses and on campus.
As a result, Rachel was comforted that she was not alone. She added that, “What I appreciated even more, however, was the encouragement that they would give one another in these moments, to look to God and trust in Him.”
Rachel wants to encourage everyone who reads her testimony.
She wants people to think about how they have grown or still may be growing over the duration of their study, praise God for it and continue to see their time at uni as an opportunity to serve and glorify God!