Phillip Williams: On faith and college life

Phillip Williams came to college determined to grow in his relationship with Christ. By the end of his freshman year, he wondered if this was possible.

Faith in Jesus runs deeply in Phillip’s family. For many years, he played piano at his family’s church. His keyboard was a gift from his grandfather, and Phillip used it to worship the God they both loved.

So when he arrived at Guilford College, Phillip found a Bible study on campus. It was a good study and helped ease his transition to college. But throughout the year, pressure began to build.

Phillip played both football and trombone. He studied both music and creative writing. His classes were demanding, and his performance schedule full. Soon Phillip stopped attending Bible study regularly, and when he found out the leader was leaving Guilford, he wasn’t sure what place faith had in his busy college life.

“I understood I needed guidance and definitely felt an absence of that,” he says.

Then one day, early in his sophomore year, Phillip was walking across campus and noticed some friends playing “capture the flag.” He met the game’s organizer, CCO staff person Judson Van Wyk, and they exchanged phone numbers. Judson texted Phillip the next day, asking if he’d like to get lunch and talk about his faith.

He did. He really, really did.

Over the next few months, Phillip became more and more involved in CCO campus ministry as he discovered connections between the Gospel and his college pursuits. He joined a Bible study, attended a men’s gathering, and began to meet weekly with Judson.

In February, Phillip went to the CCO’s Jubilee conference. He chose breakout sessions with Wendell Moss, who talked about race and trauma, and with Joy Ike, who talked about what it means to be a Christian musician.

“I honestly wish Jubilee could’ve been longer,” Phillip says. “I took the information with me and continue to carry it daily.”

Now Phillip serves in leadership with both the campus CCO fellowship and the Black Student Union. He is working with fellow leaders to address issues of racial equity and reconciliation. Phillip also continues to lean into his faith and develop his creative abilities. 

“I’m just learning to have a professional career in which I’m doing what God wants and glorifying God with the abilities he’s blessed me with, ” he says.

“My number one goal is to be in a position where I can influence the next generation so that they will pursue a relationship with Christ, just like I am.”