Spiritual disciplines of a private, Christian, liberal arts college

Zoe Hoekstra–Guest Writer

The Dordt College campus gives students ample opportunities to put spiritual disciplines into practice.

At the beginning of the school year, students can sign up for Bible studies or counseling sessions and are introduced to campus activities such as Monday or Thursday night worship, Wednesday chapels, and Sunday night services. Many of the arts, athletics, and classes use prayer and devotions in their programs.

From freshmen to seniors, students of all ages take advantage of these opportunities, along with their own different spiritual disciplines.

Janaya Hirsch, a sophomore, appreciates the community worship opportunities at Dordt. The ability to bounce thoughts off other students and faculty and pray for each other is something she loves being a part of.

Hirsch also emphasizes the idea that God wants to be not only in the spiritual but also unspiritual things of life. “Grocery shopping, doing homework, he is in everything. It’s the idea of ‘He’ll never leave you nor forsake you.’” With that in mind, Hirsch strives to never leave Him and instead, pursue Him back.

Something that is evident in the students’ heart is the importance of daily spiritual disciplines. Many students practice daily devotions, pray before meals, and go to church every week.

“I think they [spiritual disciplines] are important because they keep you grounded in your faith and it puts them into action,” sophomore Adri Tilstra said. “It’s more than just your beliefs and allows you to be connected with God on a daily basis.”

Nic Veldhorst, a freshman on the Dordt Cross Country team, was invited to attend Coach Wolfe’s Bible study held at 7 p.m. on Sunday evenings. Nic believes it grows the runners as a team, but also roots the team’s relationship and atmosphere in Christ. It allows the runners to have a deeper and spiritual connection with one another.

Dordt students are known for being engaged in classrooms, but they are also very attentive to each other. Spiritual disciplines are passed on from student to student. Nic rooms with fellow cross country member Davis Tebben. One way that they strive to grow closer to God in a community aspect is by praying together every night. It was not something that they decided to do on their own. During the first week of college, known as Week of Welcome, Nic’s leader gave him the idea by telling the group that she prayed with her roommate before bed every night.

Another way people get ideas for spiritual disciplines is from their homes. Many Dordt students come from Christian houses that have implemented practicing religion since day one. It starts with parental figures that bring their families to church every Sunday and pray over their children before falling asleep. Something that Nic’s father encouraged him to do was to keep in touch with his friends back in Wisconsin through devotions. Nic regularly calls his friend from high school, and they do a Bible study using the Bible app.

Many of the students on campus strongly feel that practicing spiritual disciplines is a key aspect of what makes us Christians. Levi Yakubu practices praying consciously every day. He shared the reality that spiritual disciplines are not easy. Sometimes life is overwhelming and he feels swamped. He then went on to highlight that not all spiritual disciplines are long and need undivided attention. “I try to love genuinely. Without those disciplines, for me, our society would be worse than what it is right now. What is everybody loved?”

Watching the students of Dordt College put their religion into practice is what makes Dordt a unique place. Spiritual disciplines are not supposed to feel like homework or a heavy weight. They give hope freely and renew spirits. Things like chapel and worship help acknowledge human weakness but also remind people of God’s providence and that we are not alone in our work and struggles. Lastly, the idea of spiritual disciplines pushes the college’s mission statement, “…to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.”

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