As this semester gets rollin’, more and more conversations are happening about how the Westmont community views and interacts with the Holy Spirit. Especially since Westmont students come from different backgrounds, many are curious about how their peers view this topic.
Third-year Dylan Wile was kind enough to share that he’d grown up in the Pentecostal tradition. According to Wile, the Holy Spirit “has always been present” in his life. He emphasized that he feels led by the Spirit in his everyday life and works to consistently submit his life to Him.
For Wile, the Voskuyl Prayer Chapel on campus has been a major point of intersection: “I’ve had so many late nights there where random people will show up, and it’s the most amazing worship experience … just this supernatural joy.”
Others on campus claim to feel the Holy Spirit individually yet are hesitant to bring their experiences into conversation with peers on campus. Shelbi Loehrer, a third-year, mentioned, “Sometimes when you mention speaking in tongues, prophecy or modern miracles, people get skeptical … it’s the unknown.”
Some of these topics can be controversial, and students wonder, “Are our professors and campus ministries discussing these things openly?” Campus pastor Scott Lisea answered some of these burning questions. When asked if he’d received any pushback from faculty about the Holy Spirit being active in these ways, he said, “You know, when the faculty gets together to worship, they are usually more traditional [and] liturgical … but I haven’t had a lot of pushback.”
When talking about his own interactions with the Spirit here on campus, he recalled times when he’s met with students when “there’s always a moment when the Lord gives me His eyes for them.” He admitted that he’s still growing to give in to those Holy Spirit “nudges,” to give in when he feels called to go talk to someone or pray for them.
Lisea explained that it’s important to remember we have an interactional relationship with the Spirit of God by submitting in that way. He shared a prayer that he utters every hour: “Lord, I’m aware of you, I am available to you, and I want to be obedient to you.” A good one to put in your back pocket!
Though many students seem unsure about discussing the Holy Spirit with their peers, it’s clear that people at Westmont are open. Whether students, faculty or staff, people here are part of a learning community. There is a clear desire to learn from one another and glean from one another’s stories and experiences, as members of a community “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).