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God wants to convert you, again and again and again

It’s been a little over a decade since I met Jesus in a Tennessee Waffle House. He plucked me out of my plastic orange booth and, simultaneously, from a deeply destructive lifestyle.

It was a radical conversion on Halloween night. A waiter pranced around in full Elvira drag while I recited a tearful sinner’s prayer in the parking lot.

I have little in common with those who know a perpetually stern and severe God. I serve a God whose eyes twinkle with magic and, at times, humor.

My existing worldview crumbled that night only to be rebuilt by a new architect–by a carpenter-king who reigns by dying; by a God-man who offers his other cheek when the first is struck.

And I’ve followed Jesus to this day, although the ride has been bumpy.

There was some turbulence when I wandered awe-struck through Auschwitz, and again in Albania as war and ethnic-cleansing exploded in nearby Kosovo. My parents’ separation has caused some trouble and I’m a bit unnerved by the “hijacking” of my evangelical faith by a strange Christian nationalism.

But these have all become “conversions” on my trajectory toward the King. Auschwitz quickly shattered all my Sunday-school ideas of God, and the reconciliation of my parents has converted me to a new kind of prayer–one in which imagination plays a central role.

I believe God is in the business of multiple conversions. Waffle House was the beginning, but my subsequent experiences have all deepened the kingdom of God into my synapses, my bones, my sometimes-broken heart.

And I think this campus has the potential to be a giant Waffle House parking lot for those hungry for conversion. It’s true that most of us have already made decisions to follow Christ, but God is far from done with us.

There are worldviews here that need some shaking. There are trajectories that need a little realignment. There are undoubtedly some hearts that, even after reciting sinner’s prayers, need healing, health and conversion.

At the risk of sounding like an EU cheerleader, I think our school’s core-curriculum is poised to convert. Service learning and courses such as Justice in a Pluralistic Society and Science, Technology and Values all have the components to change students from the inside out.

But posture is key. Unless one is postured in a way that one truly intersects with their paper writing, reading and service learning hours, the experiences will be hollow and empty.

Apart from Sodexho’s pecan pie, nothing at Eastern comes served on a platter. For one’s season in school to be transformative, one has to dig.

And if one digs deep enough, I’m convinced there is treasure.

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