Observing and engaging with God’s steadfast heart for Community College has been one of the most precious gifts of my life. I have been laboring alongside Jesus as an InterVarsity staff worker at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) for two years now. As a black woman with a multiracial background, I deeply appreciate that HCC is a place where black students are not scarce. In my short time at HCC, I have seen shades of God’s face and depths to his Spirit that I did not experience at the private university where I was educated for four years.
I have seen Jesus living his life out through black Caribbean students longing to attain citizenship and struggling to fit in a country that doesn’t welcome them. I have seen the tears of God in wounded African American women. I have heard God’s voice through multiracial students sharing their stories of being rejected by their peers. I have watched God’s hand guide African national students as they wrestle with black multiculturalism in America. The wounds reach deep and the measure of God’s gifting stretches wide in the lives and personhood of these students. These students and their stories are the heart and voice of the community college! And I have learned that the community college has something prophetic to say to this world about overlooked crevices of God’s heart and whom Jesus calls us to invest our time and prayers in.
Community college not only represents the lost and the least of the academic world, but it also reveals the wide diversity of the poor and underprivileged in our local communities. Though God can get his glory in whatever he does and wherever he goes, scripture shows us his special attention given to places viewed with little regard and much apathy. We see this same theme in Jesus’ intentionality to grow up in Nazareth and begin his ministry in Galilee rather than in Jerusalem. Hidden within these unwanted community colleges is the depthless beauty of God. He is so smitten and proud of these campuses that he will not allow their radiance to be unrecognized for long.
As the black community increasingly emphasizes the importance of academic pursuit, more and more black students are college bound. The majority of these black students are beginning their studies at a community college! We all know that college is such a transformative and defining season for young men and women. We as the church have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to labor with Jesus, reaching the black community via black students while they are being shaped spiritually, socially, and intellectually for adulthood.
God continues to release black community college students from existing within the shadow of traditional colleges and private universities. God is drawing black students to himself and sending them to be leaders on campus and in the community. Rather than a place to be adrift and a place to rush out of, God is defining community college as a place to love and meet Jesus. We are being called to follow suit in heart and action in response to the prophetic voice of the community college.