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Gloria Newton pt 2 – Live Deeply

I’m Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at UT Intern Gloria Newton, and my family attends CSPC. Here’s more of how I’m living deeply. 

“I grew up with a lot of prosperity gospel narrative- you do your thing and are vaguely Christian, and God blesses you for that. So going into college at MTSU, my goal was just to work toward this hazy picture of what it looks like to be blessed: Do your job, stick to what’s normal, make a good living. But then I came across RUF, a connection that came about because of CSPC. I was in CSPC’s high school youth program for the one year I lived in Knoxville before college, and Mark Steimer connected me to Weston Duke, the RUF campus minister at MTSU. I hadn’t really planned on getting involved in a college ministry, but Weston invited me and helped me move in, so I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll go, I guess.’ When I stepped into RUF, my whole narrative of, ‘I’m just here for college, don’t really need to build a community or care for my faith much here’ just immediately flew out the window. All of a sudden, I was hearing this message that was very applicable to my college life, calling me to live out of my faith. And I met people who were instantly interested in me, invited me back and cared for me. I was like, ‘Oh, I guess this DOES matter.’ (I don’t know how I didn’t really think that before.) My perspective on what it means to be a Christian started to change. I came into college a bit of a legalist: ‘I’m doing the right thing, and I’m not gonna go party on the weekend, so I’m fine. God is so happy with me.’ But through RUF, I quickly realized that even in our ‘doing the right thing,’ we can actually still be doing it in a very fallen way- a way that doesn’t lean on God and doesn’t acknowledge our complete brokenness and dependence. You can live in this unbiblical hierarchy of priding yourself on doing ‘better’ than other people. But that’s wrong. Following God means living lives out of courage and dependence on Him. I don’t think I really thought about what that looked like until I started seeing it in RUF. Now, God is still at work teaching me to depend on Him.

In college, God’s teaching me dependence meant He would bring just the right people for my spiritual growth. I went into college a really big people pleaser- I just didn’t want to rock any boats. But He would put people in my life whose presence meant I HAD to rock the boat a little- sometimes for my own sanity and honesty! Intertwined with my people pleasing, I guess, is a ‘fear of man’ problem. I always thought that if I messed up anything, people would be so mad at me. But He gave me friends who, when I made a mistake, were like, ‘No, that’s actually okay. There’s grace for that.’ And now, working for RUF, He’s given me a team that shows me that same grace as I depend on them. Here’s an example of a scenario that’s played out a time or two: I’m in charge of making the bulletins for an RUF gathering, it’s 4:30 and they’re due at 5:00, my Bible study is about to start, and I don’t have time to make the bulletins. My staff would step right up to do that! Another time my car broke down in January behind the church where we meet. So I was stuck in an alley near downtown, late at night, in the freezing cold. I tried jump starting the car and all the other first things you check, but nothing. Not ideal. Thankfully, my co-intern (who was just about to drive away when my car stalled) stayed with me. By the time the tow truck pulled up, it was about midnight. But my co-intern sat there with me the whole time, kept us warm in her car, then finally drove me home.  Fortunately, she and I are roommates. So for the next week, while my car got fixed, she was bringing me to campus with her. RUF’s intern department even gave me a little emergency funding to help pay for the repairs. The whole week or so was just a really big time of depending on other people at every turn. And through them, God always provided.

I fundraise all my support to be here working with RUF. So I have to live by faith that God is working here, that His work matters, and that I can communicate that to people who will choose to support me. Talk about dependence! Every semester I’m like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to make this happen.’ And then I’m reminded, over and over, ‘Oh, God is the One making this happen. It’s actually not really me at all.’ We are faithless, but God loves to care for us as His children and show His faithfulness. One of the big things I get to do with my students in RUF is tell them, ‘You’re actually as dependent as I am in this season. You’re as dependent as anyone. You can make all these plans during college for what the rest of your lives will look like, but whether those dreams come true or not, God’s working behind it all- and always for your good and His glory.’ If we don’t approach God with the humility to know we’re in complete dependence on Him, it’s easy to think you can have it all and have an easy life- and that those two objectives are the ultimate goals! So I’m glad God keeps showing me my weakness and my need for Him, so that the students can see it, too. Needing Him isn’t what makes us broken- we were dependent before sin entered the world. We needed sleep and food, and God provided those things. Today, He still shows His power when I have to trust that He’s going to make a way for things to happen that need to happen and that my desired paths aren’t always His paths for me. A final example of this would be the day before I started working for RUF. I was so far from my fundraising goal- I needed exactly $1400 to get to 85% funded and be able to start ministry on campus. I mentioned it to a group of people and all of a sudden, there was that much in my account! An anonymous gift of $1400. RUF was like, ‘Yes, you’re free to go onto campus!’ That sort of thing happens a lot, and I usually don’t know exactly who the money comes from. But at a deeper level, there’s one thing I absolutely know for sure: God is bringing me to situations that are harder and better than I usually want and His strength is filling every gap.” 

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