Trump’s election spurs campus division

By November 16, 2016

USA (MNN) — Since Donald Trump became the United States president-elect, the country has divided against itself. The U.S. college campuses, a microcosm of its society, have not been exempt from this division.

Campus Division

(Photo Courtesy James Stutzman via Flickr)

(Photo courtesy of James Stutzman via Flickr)

Yet, it’s in times like this when the message of the Gospel can be a light where there seems to be none. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is an example of this as it works to navigate campuses’ choppy waters and serve both the students who voted for Trump and those who oppose him.

“There’s certainly a group of people who are, if not overjoyed, at least hopeful,” explains InterVarsity’s Vice President and Director of Campus Engagement Greg Jao. “They recognize the moral complexity representative by president-elect Trump. Many of his statements are troubling to them, but they’re hopeful for openness around…agendas that are important to them.”

However, as Jao also said, there’s an equally large (if not larger) people group who are very worried and concerned about the fate of immigrants, women, Muslims, and so many others during Trumps presidency.

Basis for Fear

InterVarsity acknowledges there is reason for peoples’ fears based on Trump’s previous statements and behaviors, and no doubt there’d be a similar conversation brewing had Clinton been the president-elect.

Already though, InterVarsity has seen a number of threats made to non-white students and even physical attacks against Muslim students. In this case, college campuses are sadly reflecting America’s society and the media’s headlines reporting hate.

(Photo Courtesy InterVarsity Christian Fellowship via Facebook)

(Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship via Facebook)

In light of this, InterVarsity is trying to help students in a variety of ways like providing places for students to pray and come together in Scripture. Jao says it’s important students are able to do this, because then the fears and anxieties regarding Trump’s presidency can be brought before the Lord and shaped by Him and the Christian community.

However, shaping fears through Christ isn’t meant to make those concerns disappear. Instead, it’s meant to help channel those concerns into constructive and productive directions on campuses.

Simultaneously, InterVarsity is also working with students who voted for Trump by helping them learn to listen to the voices of pain, anger, and confusion and to temper their responses accordingly.

“I think, ultimately, what I hope we’re doing with students is challenging them to go both into Scripture to identify: what are some of the key passages it seems we need to think about? What does it mean to be created in the image of God? What does it mean to advocate and care for one another?” Jao says.

InterVarsity’s Hopeful Response

Jao hopes students in response would do three things:

  1. When students see things in the coming administration which they can support and encourage, that they would do so.
  2. When students see things they can’t support, things which don’t reflect Scripture in light of justice, the value of life, and the dignity of people, that they would resist and protest such things.
  3. And finally, that they’d all exhibit the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — without using them as excuses not to do what is right.

The ministry is trying to help students biblically think through why these concerns are concerns to others, but also is encouraging all students to pray for Trump’s presidency as an act of faith and hope.

“All of us are commanded to pray for our leaders, that they would reflect God’s reign and rule more fully in their lives in the types of things they do and the way the country is led,” Jao explains, referencing 1 Timothy 2.

“We think of this as an immense opportunity to witness, particularly among communities of color, immigrants, certainly the Muslim-American community there, and a lot of women [who are] deeply troubled by the fact that up to 81 percent of at least white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump.”

The Gospel and Prayer

(Courtesy Photo from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship)

(Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship)

For some people, because of the high statistics of evangelicals who voted for Trump, they’re turning a deaf ear to those sharing the Gospel with them, or even on faith in God.

For others, it’s causing them to question what the nature of the Gospel and the evangelical church are regarding people of color, women, and justice issues.

Still, as Jao says, this is a chance as the Church to say to those hurting, “We do care deeply for you. We are going to advocate for you.”

At the bottom line, though, neither party fully reflected the image of God or a concern for it. The image of God includes all people from conception to death, every race, ethnicity, social status, and gender. Every person is made in the image of God, regardless of if they or others recognize it. However, it’s the Church’s job to recognize this.

So please join in prayer for churches to join in on the conversation of the complexity of what students and the rest of America are facing right now. Students need leaders and models of adults biblically handling this election. Pray the Church would be the place to find them.

Pray also for students and so many others who have been threatened or feel threatened by Trump’s presidency. Pray for their safety, for peace in their lives, and for the beautiful image of God’s love to be shown to them one way or another.

Finally, if you want to help encourage those who are scared or worried, consider writing a letter. Tell the local multicultural student organization, mosque, or who else might be in your life that you support them, you don’t support the hate they may be exposed to, and that you stand by them in Christ.

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