Welcome Week is the time clubs have the opportunity to attract students to be part of a group that they feel is right. At the University of Utah when fall semester begins and the incoming freshman come, many are interested in joining. Jessica Hannan is part of a group named Antioch and she is one of the leaders for the college ministry established on campus. This is the first year this group has come to our campus to get college students to join.
Antioch is new to the Salt Lake City area. Hannan tells me it all started in the 1980s in Waco, Texas. She says “A group of college students in Waco, Texas basically said there’s more of Jesus. We want it, we don’t want to be just religious people going through the motion if god is real we want all that he has so they basically started a church”. When they didn’t have a building they would have church “in a parking lot on a flatbed trailer for a year and college guys were like bringing their big pick-up trucks with their entire couches” she says. Now there are over 30 Antioch churches planted across the United States and it continues to grow.
There are many religious clubs around campus, so what makes this group stand out from the other groups? Jessica was not raised in a home where Jesus was a big part of their lives. She met Jesus when she was starting her masters and her little sister was a big influence on her decision joining the group. A story that her sister told her was that a friend’s car broke down one day and a group of college, Hannan says that “the bible says give to anyone that needs and they bought her a car and so it was shocking to me. I was like wow these are people who actually are doing the things that they preach.” This was something that amazed her because she had never seen a group of people that were so loving and caring. Her sister also fell into depression and she saw how her friends never left her side this made Jessica crave these type of people in her life.
The college ministry is taking a trip to Tijuana, Mexico this year for spring break. This is the first of many trips they will be having. When I asked her what these trips were about she was very excited to tell me everything about what has happened in previous trips. She says that “basically part of it is service oriented but most of it is going out and just encouraging people, praying for people who need prayer, praying for the sick, and sharing the gospel”. The spring break trips are called Awaken and some of her favorite memories come from .
When listening to her story, I had chills running down my spine. The trips a whole week long and on one of the nights they do dramas without speaking so everyone in the audience can understand. One of her friends was on the side of the stage praying to god to help them out and she says god still speaks to his children. Hannan’s friend felt like the lord said there was someone in the audience that was deaf and he wanted to restore their hearing. Hannan says “the woman’s friend signs to her like this is what he is saying come forward and so she comes forward and her hearing was restored and she starts weeping.” She wants the college ministry here to encounter god the same way she did.
Joining Antioch changed her life around not only did she meet amazing people that truly cared about her but she also now is a leader for the life group of the college ministry. Last year was the hardest time for her, she had just moved here and shortly after she found out her parents were going their separate ways. Her group stood by her and helped her get through such a rough time, she says even “when I was ugly and reserved and not all pretty with a little bow on top like they never let me go.” For her being a leader for life group has been an amazing part of her experience here, she loves the college students she has met here. What she is looking forward to for this life group is that as time passes the group will eventually be led by college students. Right now she says it’s weird because the people leading the group are post grads. She can’t wait for “college students disciplining college students.” For now, she is loving every minutes of this amazing experience.