Knowing God: Student Week of Prayer at Pacific Union College

By Melinda Smith on June 13, 2007

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The Christian tradition colors all aspects of life and study at Pacific Union College. Accordingly, beyond PUC's academic focus, there is an emphasis and concern with the developing Christian experience. Nine students took the platform during Student Week of Prayer, January 21-25, to share their own experiences, insights, and struggles. They came from a wide variety of years and majors, but all focused on the theme of "Knowing God."

Student Week of Prayer has been a long standing tradition at PUC, and according to junior Daneen Akers, religious vice-president, a traditional favorite. "Students really enjoy being ministered to by their own peers," she said. "Hearing experiences and struggles from someone your own age makes a huge difference, and students pay a lot of attention to what their peers have to share."

This year, the selection process focused on students not commonly found up front speaking. "We picked people because God is doing exciting things in their lives. They aren't your typical up-front people," Akers said. "I only think that made them more real and believable."

Each speaker interpreted the broad week of prayer topic in a personal way. The first speaker of the week, senior psychology major David Pizarro, dealt with knowing the assurance of salvation. Freshman health administration major Greg Henderson spoke on knowing how to allow God to use us for his purpose. Lisa Mitchell, a junior social work major, emphasized the reality of God and the ability of everyone to experience him. Wendy Ruiz, a junior social work and Spanish major, shared what brought her closer to God and how she believes we can know God's plan. Senior communication major Vania Matheus chose to focus on expectations of God. Sophomore music education major Darren Belleau's presentation, "What Next?," was something he had wanted to say for a long time about God's sacrifice and what lies beyond. José Ramirez, senior psychology major, spoke on knowing God through difficulties. The Friday night vespers speaker was Jeremy Pierson, a senior public relations and Spanish major. The thought that motivated him to participate in Week of Prayer was the topic: "Knowing the Peace of God." The last speaker of the week, Julie Lee, a junior English major, spoke for the Sabbath service about knowing God's truth.

Of the three weeks of prayer per year at PUC, the one in which students lead out consistently draws the greatest response from the college audience. Said sophomore Brandi Brashears of this year's Student Week of Prayer, "It really helped clarify to me what I think about God. Some of the topics were just what I needed to hear. And I needed to hear them from people my own age."

Campus Chaplain Mike Dunn observed, "The variety of speakers this year served to reach out to all aspects of our campus. The people that are not normally heard really had a message." He added, "Worship services often speak to the front half of the audience. Many of this year's Student Week of Prayer speakers spoke to the back half as well."