by Carl Millender
Today began with a sense of awe at what I was going to do and work that was taking place. Never before in my life have I felt as though I had such purpose; and yet, for that last few days on this ride, I have begun every day with this same feeling. As I stepped out of bed, I saw the ocean. As its waves lapped against the shore, I was reminded of God’s awesome grace– the very grace that I would need in order to survive the rest of the day.
Upon our arrival at Regent University we were greeted with a fleet of police cars that pulled out as soon as our bus was seen nearing the campus (it was later hinted to me that our bus has been under constant surveillance since we arrived in town). The bus then briefly stopped by the side of the road and was boarded by a police officer who warned us that if we so much as stepped foot on the Regent University or any of the surrounding property that we would be given no warning but would be immediately arrested. The feeling in the air was tense, especially because up until few days ago we had struck a deal with the university to allow us not only onto their campus but we had also been asked by members of the faculty to speak in classes. However, we received a letter from the university not much more than a week ago telling us they had rescinded their offer. As I looked out the window at the not-that-small army of Police officers I knew they weren’t kidding.
At this point, riders began to become a bit discouraged, but we continued our discussions with the police and found a place where we could hold a silent vigil. So we marched into place and turned our gaze upon the school with our pamphlets of “What the Bible does and doesn’t say about Homosexuality.”
We stood in peace for those who had taken their own lives because of the message that God rejects them. We stood voiceless for those who did not have a voice in their mistreatment, and we stood silent for all those who suffer in silence every day because they believe they are less than worthy because of the messages that are coming from schools like Regent. At that moment, as we stood together, we were one in our commitment, in our goal, and in our desire to see things change.
As the police force around the campus continued to grow we noticed that they were not only holding us at bay, but they were also keeping back many students who did have a true and honest desire to dialogue with us. Hope seemed fleeting until one of our riders had the bright idea of writing his phone number on a large piece of paper and held it up for the students to see. Once he did that his phone spring to life.
The students were then told they could meet with us at the 7-11 across the street from campus and a crowd of students began to gather. We had accomplished our goal for the day and enjoyed a moment of victory. As we realized that we had actually managed against all odds to speak with the student we broke our silence and began to sing.
When the time came to leave, we were all very tired; and yet, something was struck within us all, but me especially. As I walked away from the school knowing all the good we had done and knowing that the desire to have us there was strong among he students, something inside me was compelled and I knew that tomorrow I was going on that campus. I would try to reach those students no matter what the cost.