Kayla Smith: Standing Up

Growing up, I remember my parents always telling me that God can use your stuttering but he cannot use your silence.

That phrase held especially true for me when I began college.

It was my second day of class in my first semester. I didn’t know what to expect and could barely even find my classroom. I sat down and tried to still the nervous shake of my hands. So it didn’t help my nerves when my professor opened up the class up with the question, “What is the meaning of life?” I knew right then and there that I would have to say something.

The room was dead silent. I raised my shaking hand timidly. The professor looked my way and when I spoke, my voice sounded stronger than I felt.

“I believe that we were created to know God,” I answered.

A few people looked my way. I felt a blush creeping up my cheeks, but I held my chin up. The room stayed silent.

Finally the professor spoke. But rather than acknowledging my point, he used my answer to launch his next agenda, talking about metaphysical questions, questions that cannot be answered, and how we cannot know if there is a god, let alone what that being would look like. A few people spoke, saying things like they believed god was whatever they wanted him or her to be, that no one knows the answer, and therefore you can make any assumption you want.

I felt another tug in my gut and knew that I had to speak up again.

“Well, actually we do know who God is because He tells us in the Bible,” I began. “Jesus is God…”

The professor cut me off. “Jesus isn’t God,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“With all due respect, sir,” I stuttered, “I believe what the Bible says and in the Bible, Jesus says He is God.”

He stared at me with narrowed eyes. “I would like you to write up where he says he is God and give it to me next week,” he said.

I vigorously nodded my head. “Of course,” I replied.

After another tense silence, the professor launched into his lecture, giving me a chance to catch my breath. I could still feel some of my classmates’ eyes lingering on me, but I didn’t care. The joy that filled me was worth every stare.

At the start of the next class, I handed my professor a paper with a few verses I had typed up, showing where Jesus specifically says He is God. I told him if he ever wanted to know more about it, I would love to share.

Funny enough, this built a sense of respect and even friendship between us. In the weeks to come, he would call on me to answer questions much more frequently than other students. He would ask my opinion on topics we discussed, always wanting to know what I thought. My answers seemed to fascinate him, like he had never thought of the possibility that there could be something more to life than what he was living for.

But through it all, he never mentioned the paper again. I thought he must have forgotten about it—until the last day of the semester.

He dismissed the class for the final time, but as I turned to go, he called me over to his desk. Curious, I approached.

“Kayla, just so you know, I kept the paper you gave me, and I still read it and try to make sense of it,” he told me.

Stunned but happy, I smiled. “I’m so glad you liked it!” I replied. “If you ever want to know more, I’m actually taking another of your classes next semester. I’d be thrilled to answer any of your questions.”

He smiled back. “Thank you.”

I think back often to that encounter and think that if I had never spoken up, my professor, and maybe even my entire class, would have never heard about Jesus or that there is more to life than what they were living for, that they were created for a purpose.

As challenging and as hard as it was, I am so thankful for the experience and the lasting friendship I am able to have with my professor. I still pray for him, that the Lord would open his eyes, that he would accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Kayla Smith, a freshman at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, is a student leader with the campus fellowship group led by CCO staff member Dan Terracciano.