Jubilee Stories: Sam Levy
If you've hung around the Harbor for any length of time, you've probably heard us invite you to the CCO's Jubilee conference. Perhaps you've wondered why we care so much about getting students to come to this. In the weeks leading up to Jubilee 2018, we'll be sharing a series of stories of our own experiences at Jubilee and how God has used this conference to transform our lives. This is why we work so hard to get students there.This week, we're sharing a story from Sam Levy, CCO Campus Staff at SRU and Grove City College. Read on!
It was 2007. I was a sophomore at Shippensburg University, and I found myself in Pittsburgh for a weekend because my campus minister, Phil, told me I should go to Jubilee. I really didn't have much of an idea of what to expect, but I certainly didn't expect that weekend to kick off a series of experiences that would reshape every part of my life.
Funny enough, I don't actually remember a whole lot from that weekend. I remember a tire on our van blowing out, shredding, and causing little pieces of rubber to fly into the back of the van and smack us in the head. I remember vague bits and pieces from some of the speakers. I remember my friend, Ondeck, accidentally throwing a frisbee on top of a roof. But there's one part of Jubilee 2007 that still comes very clearly into focus.
One of the main stage speakers that year was Gary Haugen, founder and CEO of the International Justice Mission, an organization dedicated to putting an end to slavery. Gary said there were 27 million slaves in the world. (IJM now estimates that number at over 40 million.) In fact, he told us, "there are more slaves right now than at any point in human history."
I shuddered. If you're familiar with the evils of modern-day slavery, this isn't news. But Sophomore Sam had a very small worldview, and I was under the impression that slavery had ended when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Gary's words began to shake me out of my naiveté, and at some point during his talk, I remember thinking this:
The Christianity I grew up with has nothing to offer a world with 27 million slaves other than a ticket to heaven after this life is over.
But the Gospel being preached from the stage at Jubilee was different. It had plenty to say about eternity, for sure, but it also had quite a lot to say about the here and now! Granted, I had never been directly told that my life in this world didn't matter, but I hadn't really been offered any real reason to believe that it did. Until that February Saturday back in 2007.
God cared about my major. He cared about my passions. He cared about my hobbies, my relationships, and my habits. And all of that was woven together into who he created me to be and the life he was calling me to live! God didn't just care about the eternal destination of my soul; he cared about the entirety of me, just as he cares about his entire creation. Everything matters to God!
This conference, and specifically Gary's talk, in and of themselves, did not change my life. But I went back to campus armed with a long list of questions and a large stack of books, ready to engage a long series of conversations with Phil and others. For the first time, instead of just completing my daily devotional time, I began to search Scripture and wrestle with God to learn what Truth is and what it says about my life and the world I inhabit. Over the weeks, months, and years that followed, God turned my life upside-down.
It was more than a weekend and more than an awesome experience. God used Jubilee to transform my life, just as he has for thousands and thousands of college students over the last four decades.