When Sir Winston Churchill was called to head up the war effort for Great Britain, he remarked that all his life had prepared him for this hour.  Churchill knew his calling, as I believe we can all know the call that God has for us.  In the past year God has been teaching me about one of His callings  in my life – building community.

I met my current roommate while we were neighbors living in the dorms at the University of Illinois.  His name is Bofan but most people call him by his English name Dean.   He is Chinese but has lived all over the world including China, Japan, Canada, and various states in the US.  He doesn’t have an accent and he acts American in most ways.  For the first half of the semester we were acquaintances but did not see very much of each other.  I got to know Dean during daily meetings with another guy named Daniel.  We met an hour every day for prayer, sharing, and quiet time with God.

The idea for us to become roommates came from Daniel.  After one of our meetings,  Daniel suggested, “Why don’t you two room together?”  I freaked out about how to respond.  I thought, “Me room with Dean, what have you gotten me into now Daniel?”  I worried about Dean’s habit of gaming late into the night and that he would never leave the room.   I worried that he would not want to build a community like I felt called to do.  On the bright side Dean could not be any more messy than my current roommate and the more I thought about the proposition the more I felt led to accept it.  I cannot exactly put into words how my fears were calmed, I believe that God was pushing me in the right direction for His plan.

My plan was to stay on the 4th floor and continue the work that had been begun by Daniel, and others.  God had other plans.  During the second semester, a few Christians from Blaisdell met to talk about our vision for the dorm.  It was decided that we wanted to take  the spirit of community found on Blaisdell 4 and spread it to other floors.  During that meeting, Dean and I were nominated to start the new floor!  Neither of us were very enthusiastic about leaving the 4th floor.  During the next week we considered if this was the right idea, if God was calling us to go.  We determined it was, and late in the registration period I became official roommates with Dean on the second floor of Blaisdell, room 228.

The issue was laid to rest as we went home for the summer.  We returned three months later and moved back in to PAR.  The first few weeks of the semester were hard for me.  Again, I was full of doubt.  What if we had made a mistake?  We left a great floor and community to move here among strangers.  What if we had gotten the message from God wrong?  I doubted for two weeks.  Then I met Josh one of the twin Korean guys living down the hall from us.  This was the first sign from God that He had a plan.  We talked for over an hour and I found that he was a strong Christian!  I was amazed that God had brought such people to our floor.  I had nothing to do with it, I just moved in.  In the course of that third week of school I met 4 Christian guys and over 10 guys who would later become instrumental to building our community.

During the year I saw God build community despite my fears.  It turned out that Dean did game a lot and never left the room but his gaming turned out to be one of the gifts that brought the floor together.  We ended up playing 8 person HON (a multiplayer game) matches.  We played the entire storyline of a really scary game called Amnesia – The Dark Decent.  We gathered 7-10 people in our room, turned the lights off, and freaked out together when monsters chased after us.  A friend of mine a floor below us asked what all the screaming was about!  Dean and I played through Portal 2 together while a bunch of people watched and helped solve the puzzles.  It was amazing what God did with Dean’s gift despite my doubts!

Blaisdell 4 was amazing, I made lifelong friendships there, and I will always fondly remember the time I spent there.  In the end Blaisdell 2 was not the same as Blaisdell 4.  The communities were built with different gifts.  I think that this is very exciting because it means that all of us are able to build our own unique community, with our own unique gifts.  It’s an invitation and a challenge.  Will you be a gatherer for God’s kingdom work?

God’s Calling

What always amazes me when I think about God’s calling are the “random coincidences” that line up to bring us to the place we need to be.  There were many of these random coincidences that brought me to room 228 Blaisdell Hall.  The University of Illinois was the only school that I applied to because I felt called there.  I was randomly assigned to a crazy roommate who I chose to room with a second year.  He decided, without much consulting me, to move back to Blaisdell 4 where he had roomed his freshman year.    I took a chance by becoming roommates with Dean and we took a chance by moving to the second floor.  More than 10 great people came to the second floor which formed a core group to drive the building of a community.  The last coincidence: we pulled it off!  God’s direction is clear in this set of circumstances; He called me to build a community on Blaisdell 2.  I think that Frederick Buechner’s advice sums my point up, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”