Sometimes life can be quite hard to be a Christian. Your views can be challenged and people can cause you to doubt your convictions. Occasionally this can happen at Atlantic College. I guess that’s what you get when you go to a liberal international school in the UK. There are lots of times that I have found my faith tested while I have been here. But the other side of AC is that there is always a group or place for you to go with people who are similar to you. I have just returned home from Christian Fellowship, an activity run by second years where people on campus can come together and worship. There, we can all talk openly about our struggles with being Christian at AC and have a safe place to worship together.
Leaving home was definitely a test of my faith. I no longer had parents to remind me about going to church in the mornings or youth group to go to on Sunday nights. It was up to me to continue to attend these functions. My first Sunday here I went to a very traditional church on campus. It was quite nice, but a lot more traditional then I was used to. The next week I went to a Baptist church in Llantwit with other students from AC. I immediately knew that this was a church that I wanted to come back to. The pastor is engaging and the songs remind me a lot of home. I now wake up every Sunday looking forward to church!!
In the short time I have been here, I think I have talked more about my religion to people than I ever had with people back home. I have talked to a Muslim girl in my house who was just curious about Christianity for her World Religions class. I have talked with lots of other people in my house who noticed my bible quotes on my wall. With the Muslim girl, we talked about how Muslims get a bad reputation because a small amount who call themselves ‘Muslim’ are doing bad things in the world. Such a small minority represents the entire religion. Christianity has a similar situation. Right now, there are very conservative Christians and people like the Westboro Baptist Church that are making Christians become disliked. Christians are called ‘close-minded’ and religion is painted to be a bad thing. The greatest compliment that I have received at AC so far was ‘open-minded’. Already, stereotypes are being broken and people are starting to see that there is more to people then is on the surface.
Coming to AC has helped me be a lot more vocal about my beliefs and opinions. Back home I tended to keep my views to myself except around certain people, and often those people had the same views. But now, I am not afraid to express my opinion even when it’s an unpopular one. The important thing that I have come to find out is that it’s okay to change your opinion and it’s okay if you don’t convince the person you are talking to about your views. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. But you can at least say your opinion and get it out there for people to decide themselves. Be open to what other people are saying and if you feel like they are making valid points and they sway your opinion, that’s fine!
The bottom line is that new experiences are often a test of your faith. And I know my test is far from over. I have two years to go! But I know that there are both people here at AC and back home to help me through and I am so blessed and thankful for them.