March 6, 2019
East Texas Baptist University hosted a series of events for Spiritual Renewal Week on Monday, February 25 through Thursday, February 28. Themed “Defeating Distractions” based on Hebrews 12:1-3, the week consisted of chapel services, a Night of Worship, Concert of Prayer, and Student-led Worship.
“We believe the theme of this year’s Spiritual Renewal Week was a timely emphasis for busy college students, who can feel overwhelmed with life, school, and relationships,” ETBU Dean of Spiritual Life Scott Stevens shared. “We wanted to offer them an opportunity to pull aside and reconnect with Jesus. Student engagement is also very important to us. As we want to give our students opportunities to use their God-given gifts in service to others, students were involved in leadership in every event of Spiritual Renewal Week.”
Bethlehem Baptist Church Youth Pastor Carlos Francis began the week by speaking in chapel and at the Night of Worship on Monday. Francis’ sessions emphasized the importance of focusing on Jesus especially through trials.
“In Hebrews 11, we read a list of people who have been faithful,” Francis said. “When the author says ‘a great cloud of witnesses’ in chapter 12, he is referring to this ‘Hall of Faith.’ These witnesses would tell you that even through trials God was faithful to them. If you are trying to do what God has called you to do, you will face hard times. Satan wants to isolate you, but God calls us to live as a unified body of believers. Not only do you have a Father in Heaven, He has surrounded you with a history and current community of followers, who can testify to His faithfulness. The obstacles you face may look too large to overcome, but stop looking at the race. Keep your focus on God, who is faithful yesterday, today, and forever.”
Immanuel Baptist Church Senior Pastor Shawn Smith also served as a guest speaker during Spiritual Renewal Week. Teaching from Nehemiah, Smith encouraged students to persevere in God’s calling on their lives during the chapel service on Wednesday.
“We need to turn our misery into our ministry,” Smith said. “When God calls you out of sin, He calls you into service. When you consider what you are called to, reflect on what burdens you. Trade your comfort for your calling. When we set our attention on what God has called us to, we neglect our will for our lives and turn our focus from ourselves. As you fulfill your calling, you will face adversity. Confront adversity with a recognition of God’s great work in our lives. We should be motivated to persevere by the desire to glorify the Lord.”
The Concert of Prayer on Tuesday night guided students through six Scripture-based elements: Stillness, Adoration, Confession, Hope, Peace, and Focus. During the service, students wrote their sins on black paper with a black marker and nailed it to a cross. Students also wrote their distractions on a railroad spike, which they kept as a prayer reminder.
“Spiritual Renewal Week strengthened me in my walk with Christ,” ETBU sophomore Religion major Ethan Cook commented. “I have not known what God is doing lately, but reading through Scripture with others really helped me. I believe the Lord directly spoke to me. I knew what I needed to do in order to get back on track and mainly focus on Him. It was an amazing opportunity to connect with God.”