Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

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Author Offers Advice on Surviving College with Faith Intact

  • Jenni Parker AgapePress
  • 2004 2 Mar
Author Offers Advice on Surviving College with Faith Intact

A recent college graduate has compiled a book designed to fill a void for young people of faith who are facing the challenges and transitions of college life.

Author Abbie Smith, who graduated from Atlanta's Emory University in May 2003, says even though she was raised in a loving home and surrounded by achievement and opportunity, she never truly began to learn about real success and fulfillment in life until her freshman year of college. That was when she realized that nothing the world could offer her would be enough – that only discovering her identity in Christ could give her life meaning.

It was during that first year of college that Smith says, "God began passionately pursuing my heart and drawing me to His." As a result of that divine pull and the witness of numerous friends from Emory's InterVarsity Christian fellowship, that spring, the young woman gave her heart to Christ and began earnestly seeking a deeper knowledge of him.
But in one area, Smith found information about life in the faith elusive. "I anxiously desired to get my hands on anything revolving around Christianity," she says, and adds that she was especially craving "information and thoughts from people in my age group and stage of life." But after searching from one bookstore to the next, she came to realize that the stories and experiences of Christians during their college years often went untold.

Filling the Gap

To Smith, this dearth of available literature from her peers' perspective left a dangerous void that she, prayerfully and with God's provision, set out to fill by writing a book. The dream that began during her sophomore year at Emory culminated several semesters later in a work titled "Keeping Your Faith in College" (VMI Publishers, 2003).

Smith says she wrote the book hoping to help students like herself "avoid the temptations and pitfalls of college life while developing a healthy and more mature faith." Her brief introduction is followed by a compilation of practical and personal stories from Christian students representing more than 35 schools across the United States. Each individual chapter is introduced by the author and groups the other students' stories into categories like "Dorm Life," "Academics," "Peer Pressure," "Dating in College," "Racial Relations," "Greek Life" and "Clubs and Extra Curricular Activities."

The young author obtained these first-person vignettes through intensive networking, starting with 15 friends and working outward to tap a rich vein of young Christians across the country, all of whom were willing to share vulnerably about their struggles to remain loyal to God during these formative and transforming years. Acknowledging that they were and still are by no means perfected in their faith, many of the students included in their stories their mistakes as well as their triumphs.

The stories are honest and compelling. For instance, one co-ed writes in "I Learned My Lesson" about the danger of letting a romantic relationship edge God out of His proper central place in her life. In "Obedience Under Influence," a young rush-week survivor tells how he narrowly escaped compromise during a high-peer-pressure fraternity outing. And in "My False Idol," an athlete describes how he came to realize he had exalted tennis over God.

Stories like these fill the pages of "Keeping Your Faith in College," and illuminate for today's and tomorrow's college students the hope that comes from knowing that Christ is present with them on the seemingly lonely and confusing journey toward a degree.
Smith's says her own faith journey was enhanced by the experience of writing the book, which she worked on amid academic trials, travel, and extra-curricular commitments, and finally finished the fall of her senior year. Although there were times when she thought she would never complete the project, she says, "I was constantly refreshed by the ways God was growing and teaching me through the process and realized that the actual product was somewhat inconsequential."

Smith says her hope for the book is that it will encourage other Christians to live radically and passionately for God, as well as to grow in the understanding of what it means to live a happy and faithful life in this world while looking joyfully forward to the next.

© 2004 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.