Natalie Frazier and Madi Grimes now, more than ever, appreciate their conversations with Josh Weakly, The Navigators Campus Direction at Indiana University (IU). Unaware of where they would be today, they both signed up for a Navigators freshmen Bible study their first year at IU.
“That fall we combined men and women studies in hopes of creating a welcoming space for new students,” Josh shared. “Madi and Natalie have joyful personalities and love people well. Encouraging them was a joy as we shared how ministry was going, where we needed help, prayed for one another, and shared tools to help engage in disciplemaking.”
Now juniors, Natalie and Madi frequently chat online while one remains on the IU campus and the other in Spain for a study abroad semester. But both focused on intentionality and authenticity through co-leading Bible studies—two qualities used to describe their conversations with Josh and relationships built because of The Navigators Collegiate ministry.
Loving others through intentional questions
On a hike, Natalie struck up a conversation with Lydia*, a fellow IU student. Later, Natalie found out about the impact this intentional conversation had on Lydia.
“After asking a bunch of questions and listening on that hike, Lydia shared with my roommate, ‘Hiking with Natalie was the first time I felt someone intentionally wanted to see and know me.’” shared Natalie. “Lydia goes to church sometimes and feels like that’s enough, but I try to encourage her that there is so much more to this relationship with Jesus.”
Natalie remembers how her Navigators freshmen Bible study leaders wanted to know her heart, often asked what was happening in her life and desired to go deeper. As Natalie now co-leads a freshmen women’s study, she tries to model this.
“I encourage the ladies in the freshmen Bible study to talk to Jesus about everything and all the time, even as they walk to class,” Natalie shared.
It isn’t easy to find extended time with Jesus in her schedule these days, but Natalie makes use of those in between times like her commute to class or even coffee with a friend as an invitation to be with Jesus and in the Bible.
“The Navigators encourages me to walk close to Jesus and have that accountability. It’s helpful to pause in the week and reflect on how I’m doing spiritually and think about how life in college impacts me,” she shares. “Josh reminds me that outside of college people may not be as intentional as Navigator students are with one another. He encourages me to seek those people who are ahead of me in their spiritual journey and ask to tag along.”
Creating spaces of authenticity
“In Spain, it’s culturally acceptable to invite yourself along if you’re within an earshot of hearing someone’s plans,” Madi shared.
This is how Madi often had time and conversations with other university students also involved with the Cru ministry group Q Madrid.
During the past seven months, Madi has lived in both Liberia and Spain. In Liberia, she had the opportunity to teach English, which ties in with her college major and future dreams of teaching ESL. Her time in Spain was a study abroad program where she learned more about everyday discipleship as she made friends from around the world.
God knew Madi would need Q Madrid after experiencing both culture shock and reverse-culture shock from so many transitions in a short amount of time.
“Q Madrid is a very multiethnic community in which many people have lived in other countries and know exactly what it’s like to go through culture shock and reverse culture shock,” she shared. “In the same way I am investing in others by being part of this community, I am also being heavily invested in by fellow Christians in Q Madrid. As always, God has been faithful to me in providing everything I need.”
It’s through Madi’s authenticity and vulnerability that students in Q Madrid feel safe sharing theirs.
“At Indiana University, investing in others through Life-to-Life® discipleship for me looked like meeting with a friend and reading the Bible and getting coffee every once and awhile. However, I have learned that this isn’t the only way to invest in others,” she shared. “Right now, I am investing in friends in Spain by having conversations on a hike, practicing English with friends, and joining them in living out the gospel in community.
Josh notes how eager Natalie and Madi are to share their faith and engage in discipleship with those who need it.
In reflecting on the purpose of those weekly conversations, Josh shared, “Meeting together was about sparking disciple-making movements of the gospel in different relationship networks.”
Pray for our Navigators Collegiate ministries across the U.S. and world as they head back to campus in the new year. Pray for leaders like Josh Weakly, at Indiana University, who invest in students who in turn take the gospel all over campus and around the world.
*Name has been changed.