By Kim Wilson, Collegiate Minister, California University of Pennsylvania

“I don’t think I should go on the hike,” Jackie confessed to me while we were standing in the back of a cattle truck on our way back to the compound. We were wrapping up our mission trip in Dominican Republic with an excursion the next morning, and Jackie was battling her fears.

“What if I don’t make it to the top? What if I hold everyone back?” These and other questions tumbled out of her mouth in quick succession, like they had been rehearsed.

I acknowledged her fears and offered a rebuttal: “What if you do make it to the top? The view is like none you’ve ever seen.” Hesitantly, she agreed to take on the mountain, even though she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the athletes.

We started up the trail, and I could see the apprehension in her eyes. I told her I was with her all the way. When we stopped in a shady spot to get some water and rest for a bit, she fought off tears and the anxiety that was threatening to give her a full-on asthma attack.

We pressed on, and our hike continued in much the same fashion. A lot of things were stacked against Jackie that day: heat, anxiety, and a looming mountain that seemed impossible to climb. It was a battle for Jackie, but she kept fighting.

Jackie Pierce and Kim Wilson

Jackie Pierce and Kim Wilson

With God’s help, Jackie overcame it all. As we took our final steps at the top, Jackie’s tears flowed freely. Not tears of defeat or sadness, but tears of joy. She had done it. She had fought hard for this, and her breath was taken away by the incredible view.

This is the joy of being a campus minister, to walk alongside college students, helping them overcome their fears and showing them that the struggle’s worth it. College students have a tough road to travel, but having someone to walk through life with them can often make the difference between giving up and having victory, between thinking they’ll never make it and finding a God-given joy at the top of the mountain!