Everyday Disciple: Bekah's Story

This post is part of an on-going Everyday Disciple series. We're celebrating here what it looks like to follow Christ faithfully in the day-to-day. I am thankful to share the stories of gracious friends and readers, and I have sought to preserve and honor their voice in the post below. I invite you to join me as we listen to their experience as an "everyday disciple."

Bekah and I first met while working at a summer camp in Pennsylvania. We'd fallen out of touch in recent years, but I was excited when she emailed me to share some of her story. It's a story both of how she sees God working through her work - and of how God has used other "everyday disciples" to direct her to the place she is today. 

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The beginning of my freshman year at Shippensburg University was a challenging and unusual situation. I was a commuter, a student athlete, and an undeclared major.

As a commuting student, I felt like an outsider. (I once had someone tell me, “You are not a real college student anyway.”) I loved being a part of the cross country team, but my situation was different from that of my teammates. I had to wake up earlier to get to school for practice, and when teammates wanted to hang out after practices, I eventually had to go home. As I watched new students move in, I witnessed something I would never experience. It was very hard for me.

Early on, I met Melissa, who was an intern with the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). We began meeting weekly, and she took time to listen, encourage, and mentor me throughout my first year. At one of our meetings, Melissa told me she could see me working with college students someday. I gave her a quizzical look and just brushed the statement off.

I made a painful decision to stop doing track in the spring season. Little did I know that this hard decision would lead me to discovering my passion to work with college students.

I eventually began volunteering with the Career Center. In the fall of my senior year, the Director, Victoria, said, “I could see you working in higher education with college students some day or even having a position like me one day.” Once again, I brushed the statement off. I planned to stay with the company I’d been working at since high school.

But as I began to think about what came after graduation, the conversations I’d had with Melissa and Victoria kept overwhelming my thoughts about what I really wanted to do. Through long course of discernment, prayer, and decision making, I ended up where I am now: at Geneva College, getting a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration and working as the Graduate Assistant-Career Coach in the Career Development Center on campus.

Bekah Elbel work (2).JPG

Looking back, I am amazed how God used Melissa and Victoria to encourage me to work with college students and in career development. It is a testament to me that the Lord truly has a plan for the experiences of our lives and he brings people along to speak wisdom and encouragement to us as we pursue our passions and use our gifts and abilities.

I take the time to tell this story because I now get to influence and make a difference in the lives of students just as previous professors, staff, and mentors (like Melissa and Victoria) have made on me throughout my life. I meet with students, as they did with me, to help them better understand their callings and professional pursuits. I get to help students explore their purpose in life—discovering the passions God has given them, understanding how their past has influenced their present, focusing on the whole picture, remembering that God has a plan for their life.

I see my work in the Career Development Center as a way to help students know that whatever career they choose, the Lord can use them in it to be a light for Him. I want to show Christ’s love to each student so they know that they matter, their story matters, and their experiences matter.

I ask you to pray for our college students and the college communities across the nation and the world. Many of our students are facing major challenges and are trying to figure out the plans for their lives. I ask you to consider connecting with a college student or someone you know who works in the college setting.

Meaningful and supportive relationships can help these students see and reach the individual and unique potential the Lord has for their lives. We can encourage our young people to use the gifts and strengths the Lord has blessed them with in the careers and opportunities they will have for the rest of their lives.

I know—because I was once one of them.