Making the ‘Unburden’ banner; ‘without looking, without judging, without speaking’; a student unburdens herself
In a world that is increasingly individualistic, where the problems of others may not seem interesting and where we are full of words, listening to others is thinking ‘outside the box’. In fact when students of ECU Costa Rica decided to listen, people found it surprising beyond belief.
Every year, immediately before World Student Day in October, ECU holds National Evangelization Week. While they want to proclaim the name of Jesus during this time, they have realised that most students simply don’t want to hear what they have to say.
This year, student leaders decided to make a big change: instead of speaking, they would listen!
We decided to do something we called ‘Unburden’. We chose a location outside and put chairs in pairs. In one chair sat a blindfolded ECU student leader. Several students who attend Bible studies invited passers-by to sit opposite a blindfolded leader and talk. Those who were blindfolded were told to respond only when and if the other person asked. Although most people said they had nothing to say, those who sat down discovered they had a lot to say!
Listening is not as simple as it sounds. During ‘Unburden’ we realized that listening means sharing the burdens of others, and that is something that few want to do these days. We saw the need for students to be heard, because although they seem to have a perfect life, they lack the most important thing: Jesus. So they feel empty and do not understand many things in life. They are full of anguish, although on the surface it appears otherwise.
Rosibel, a student leader shared with us:
‘From time to time all the chairs were full of students telling their life stories to a stranger, and not only telling about their life, but opening their heart, some crying, others asking for a hug, others simply talking and thanking us. But they were there, needing to be heard.
‘It was a day to set aside my problems and put myself in the shoes of someone else. But it was difficult, and worst of all was imagining that everything we heard was experienced without Jesus. I still do not understand how people can live without him.
‘Some asked for an opinion and I felt this great responsibility on my shoulders while my brain made a quick search of what I know from the Bible to know exactly what to say. Then I realized my humanity and my inability to give something to someone else if that something does not come directly from Jesus.’
Cristell, also a student leader said:
‘A young man told me that he had attempted suicide two days ago. After he left, I could not hold back my tears. It is impossible to be indifferent to the needs of the world: they need Jesus, and we have to speak without fear.’
We thank God for what he is doing in the university and for using us as his missionaries there. Please pray that we will continue to listen and by God’s grace know how to respond.